Solar trackers are systems that help in positioning an object at an angle absolute to the sun. A solar tracker is commonly used to position a solar panel which is perpendicular to the sun’s ray at the same time, and place telescopes so that they can determine the direction of sun in a correct manner. The solar trackers adjust the direction of the solar panels according to the movement of the sun. When the panel is positioned perpendicular to the sun, it can achieve more sunlight strikes on the panel and can maximum energy is absorbed which is subsequently converted into power.
The solar power system comprised of multiple components such as PV cells, inverters, batteries, and panel holding equipment among others. Earlier, the solar panels were fixed, primarily used for residential and small-scale commercial applications. However, with the establishment of utility-scale commercial solar plants, to ensure high efficiency and energy output there was a requirement of solar systems which are able to collect solar energy throughout the day. Hence, the solar trackers were introduced. Since then, Solar Trackers are widely used to keeping solar panel oriented directly towards the sun as it moves through the sky.
Placing solar trackers in a correct direction to gain a better output
It has been proved at various stages that the direction of the sun affects the output of a solar panel. A panel device which is perpendicular to the sun produces more power output in comparison to other devices. With the help of technology and complex instruments the solar trackers work to understand and align the panels to the best position. The complex system usually consists of systems to process algorithms that track the position of sun and sensors that share the details to computers or algorithms attached to the panels. A solar tracker works from east to west and north to south also, moving throughout the day to provide maximum output power.
Types of Solar Trackers
There are two types of solar trackers, single-axis and dual axis trackers. Single-axis tracker that moves the solar panel on only one axis i.e. north and south. As the sun rises and sets these systems help the setups arc from east to west. To gain maximum efficiency, orientation of the system with respect to tracker axis is most important and dual axis have showed increased power output ratios as it shows two degree of freedom that acts on axes of rotation. The dual-axis tracker operates the panels move on two axis, north-south and east-west. These systems are designed to help the panels work efficiently in all seasons irrespective of the height of the sun. These systems are ideal for commercial setups where there is limited space for panel rotation. These are typically used to position a mirror and redirect sunlight on a fixed axis to a stationery receiver. The dual axis tracker have almost 45% more efficiency than the static trackers.
Significant benefits and limitations of Solar Trackers
- Solar trackers help in generation of more electric power in comparison to the stationery devices.
- The dual-axis tracking system are extremely useful in the places of high altitude. Here the sun’s position keeps changing a lot during the summers and winter periods. This helps in improving the production and give more energy output.
- With the help of solar trackers the output is increased by almost as high as 45%, in comparison to the original one.
- One of the main factors that works against the solar trackers, is the cost involved in setting up the solar system and hold high maintenance cost. This is mainly due to the complex parts and technology involved in the process.
- Another disadvantage is the fact that they are extremely bulky to be used in solar projects based on rooftops, the ideal with tracking features are necessarily prepared for a system that is installed on ground.
Guidelines for choosing a solar tracker
Solar trackers are ideal for places in high latitude as they experience huge variation of the movement of sun. Hence people residing in the region of Alaska are the best customers for the same. The solar tracker system is ideal for commercial setups instead of the residential ones. Commercial projects with a higher capacity of say 1 megawatt (MW) are ideal customers for solar trackers. When it comes to commercial applications, the long term benefits balance the high cost involved in the installation is worth it.
A rooftop installation majorly offers lower costs not compulsorily demand for a yard space. Moreover, it is preferable for most solar-interested homeowners. Basically, most home solar systems doesn’t hold a functionality of solar trackers. If any construction has a south-facing roof, solar panels will automatically capture maximum sunlight at huge volume, which reduces the necessity for a tracking system.
Moreover, linear actuators holds a significant presence in the success of solar trackers. Linear actuators are generally used with adjustable end-of-stroke limit switches. This keeps the solar panel secure from any potential damage that may be caused owing to over-travel in either direction. It goes without saying that condition and location of the site should be favorable for installing a solar tracker.