Do you know how solar PV panels are positioned so that they receive the optimum exposure to sunlight? With the help of a solar tracker!
The solar tracking system adjusts the direction so that a solar panel is always positioned as per the position of the sun. Remarkably, by adjusting the panels perpendicular to the sun, more sunlight hits them.
As less light is reflected in this way, the panels trap a greater amount of solar energy. The narrower the angle of incidence will be, the higher the energy a solar PV panel can generate.
The most popular application of a solar tracker is positioning solar photovoltaic panels perpendicular to the Sun. Also, it is useful for positioning space telescopes.
Interested in knowing how this tracker system functions? Stick with us, while we explain everything about solar trackers in this blog.
Working of a Solar Tracker
Let us first understand how a solar energy tracker works!
The solar tracking system is an auto-tracking control system. It includes components like PV Cells, PLC, signal processing units, sensors, electromagnetic & mechanical motion control modules, and power supply systems.
The panel gets activated due to the higher strength of sunlight and conveys it to the sensors. The sensor output is conveyed to the PLC.
Then, the PLC compares it and generates a corresponding output to rotate the motor. The motor rotates the panel to orient it toward the sun.
A solar panel that is precisely perpendicular to the sun generates higher power than the one that is not perpendicular.
Types of a Solar Tracker
Depending on the method of working, solar trackers can be categorised as:
- – Passive Tracking Devices
- – Active Tracking Devices
- – Open Loop Trackers (controlled algorithms or simple timing systems)
Open Loop Trackers are further divided into two types:
- – Timed Trackers
- – Altitude / Azimuth Trackers
By the mode of their motion or directional flexibility, solar trackers can be categorised as:
- – Single-Axis Solar Trackers
- – Dual-Axis Solar Trackers
Single vs Dual Axis Solar Trackers
Which one is better among the two? Let us find out!
Single-axis Solar Trackers
A single-axis tracker moves or adjusts the solar panels by rotating around one axis. Its movement is usually aligned in North and South directions.
This device enables the PV panels to move in the direction of the sun as it rises and sets, i.e., from East to West.
It enhances the efficiency of a solar system without having to install more PV modules. Notably, you should install a single-axis tracking system on a flat area of land that is usually sunny and dry.
Although a single-axis solar tracking system has a high initial cost of installation, it can considerably improve the productivity of your solar system.
Hence, it is capable of quickly recovering the expenses.
Dual-axis Solar Trackers
A dual-axis tracker enables your panels to rotate on two axes simultaneously. It is aligned horizontally as well as vertically, i.e., it can adjust in all directions – North, South, East, And West.
These trackers may be appropriate for some commercial properties. A dual-axis solar tracking system is designed to maximise solar energy generation across the year.
It uses algorithms and sensors, which can track the changes corresponding to seasons and changes in the height of the sun, alongside the general daily motion.
Active vs Passive Solar Tracker
Let us understand how these two types of trackers differ from each other.
Active Solar Tracker
Most tracking systems installations are active solar tracking systems. These tracking systems have an energy supply to run a motor or mechanical device. It helps to tilt the attached solar panels directly.
- – An active solar tracker determines the intensity of the sunlight by utilising light sensors.
- – Then, its system evaluates where the solar modules should be oriented.
- – Active solar trackers are ideally suitable for large and complicated solar arrays.
Passive Solar Tracker
A passive solar tracker tracks the sun without any additional source of energy. It moves by utilising the heat from the sun to warm a gas present inside. When the gas expands, it creates a mechanical movement of the PV panels.
The mechanism works in a way that if one side gets heated, the other side’s piston rises, which leads to tilting the panel over the sunny side. When the sun sets, the gas cools and becomes compressed again. Hence, the panels rotate back.
What are the Pros of a Solar Tracker?
- – More productivity: Solar energy trackers enhance the productivity of solar panels. It is due to the elevated level of direct exposure to sunlight. The productivity depends on the geographic location of the installation.
- – Simple & Eco-friendly Energy: Solar energy trackers are convenient devices to track the sun for better energy output. The increased output offers a sustainable power source for our requirements.
- – Land Optimization: Solar trackers are significant land optimisation tools. They can generate more electricity than the installations devoid of tracking systems and occupy the same amount of land.
- – Easy Monitoring: You can easily monitor the working of your solar tracking system from your PC right away.
But, are there any cons to a solar panel tracker? Let us check!
What are the Cons of a Solar Tracker?
- – High Cost: Solar tracking devices are a bit more expensive. They have a high initial cost as they have moving parts.
- – More Maintenance: Solar tracking systems demand more maintenance. Though, the requirements of maintenance depend on the type & quality of the tracking system.
- – Site Preparation Requirements: All types of solar energy tracking systems require significant preparation at the site of installation. It includes additional trenching for wiring and grading, etc.
- – Weather Constraints: A solar tracking system is not favourable in snowy weather. Such tracking systems are only beneficial in hot climates.
Is a Solar Tracking System Right For You?
A solar energy tracking system can come in handy for installations set up in locations with an adequate amount of solar energy accessibility. You must consider the installation of a solar tracker so that your panels follow the sun throughout the day.
Solar tracking can considerably increase power production in ground-mounted & roof-mounted installations. However, these devices are not apt for all solar panel installations.
Notably, you should consider factors like climate, space, and shading before choosing solar tracking. Solar Tracker devices are feasible for installations with limited space and high energy requirements.
These tracking systems provide the highest benefits for installations in high latitude locations, because of the yearly movements of the sun.
Also, solar tracking systems are often utilised in vast commercial projects. Solar trackers can be highly advantageous, depending on the climatic conditions and location of the installation.
A solar tracker positions the solar panels at an angle directed to the sun. It is an advanced sun monitoring system that can rotate the panels to track the movement of the sun across the sky.
It facilitates the panel system to trap the maximum sunlight and optimise the energy output. There are considerable advantages to using a solar energy tracker.
Q. How does a solar tracker function?
A solar tracker performs the tracking function by moving or adjusting the angle of solar panels according to the position of the sun. The movement is determined according to the time of day and year.
Q. Is a solar energy tracker suitable for residential installations?
Solar energy tracking systems can be suitable for commercial solar plants. However, for residential installations, solar trackers might not be a worthwhile investment.
Q. What is the limitation of using a solar tracker?
The biggest limitation of a solar tracking system is its cost. There is a hefty initial cost of investment.
Notably, it is an admissible cost for many commercial installations as solar trackers can improve the productivity of solar panels by up to 40%.