The trackers themselves
electricity to continually orient the solar device towards
sun, however this energy input is more than offset by the increased
efficiency gained through the use of the tracker. Trackers will help
produce much more energy
in all solar panels because they increase the
amount of time that a panel is fully exposed to the sunlight by tilting
or turning the panels to correspond with the sun’s movements.
The tracking systems are
absolutely necessary for use in concentrated
solar devices, where the
sun’s rays are redirected and concentrated on a focal point. Without a
tracking system, the sunlight would be lost as it could not be properly
focused on its intended target.
Concentrated solar power
is used in large scale
commercial applications such as heating water to
provide steam to power turbines for solar power plants. They can also
be used to generate extremely high temperatures for use in many other
industrial and scientific applications, and it's safe to say that none
of this would be
possible with the use of a solar tracking system.
How Solar Trackers Work
A solar system which
utilizes a tracking unit can generate 20% (with a single axis tracker)
to 30% (with a dual axis tracker) more power
a fixed or stationary unit. When the sun first rises in the morning,
the energy that can be harnessed from its rays is already almost equal
to that of midday.
By using a tracking
device, a solar cell can be
oriented to take advantage of this early morning sunlight. The tracker
then slowly moves the cell throughout the day, following the sun to
gain maximum exposure to the sun. Tracking units work differently,
depending on what type of power they are producing and on the type of
Types of Solar Tracking
Single Axis Tracking System
• Dual Axis Tracking System
A single axis system
most commonly used for most standard PV cell arrays. The cells are
mounted on a moving axis which is oriented to rotate along the earth’s
axis. These types of trackers usually have simple levers which can be
used to tilt the cells depending on the season to still maximum the
exposure to the sunlight.
This is the type of
tracking system most commonly used for residential solar arrays,
well as many smaller commercial arrays. While single axis trackers
don’t allow for as much exposure to the sun’s rays as dual axis
systems, their main advantage lies in the price. Single axis systems
cost only a small fraction of what their dual axis counterparts do,
which makes them ideal for all but the biggest solar arrays.
Dual axis systems
typically used in concentrated solar power systems, where it becomes
necessary to completely orient the mirrors or reflectors so that the
sun’s rays are redirected onto their intended focal point. This type of
solar tracker is usually referred to as a heliostat, and
mirrors which rotate and tilt to focus their energy on a fixed
Dual axis systems - as
their name suggests - are
capable of moving in two
directions, on both the horizontal and
the vertical axis so they can make complete use of the sun’s rays for
the entire day. Another type of dual axis system is the moving
collector, which is the exact same concept as the single
except these systems are still capable of moving on the horizontal and
vertical axes, thus increasing the amount of time they are directly
exposed to the sunlight.
The major advantage of
dual tracking systems is that they allow the solar cells to be placed
much closer together, thus reducing
the total amount of space necessary
for a large solar array.
This means that much more
power can be
produced in a small area, and because of the dual axis system, this
power can also be produced in a much more efficient manner as well.
Almost all large scale commercial solar applications utilize dual axis
systems for their reliability and efficiency, and they allow for much
less need for conventional types of power which often burn fossil fuels
and release pollution into the atmosphere.
Using Solar Trackers for
Your Home or Business
If you have ever
considered using solar power, or even if you already have a solar array
your property or business, then maybe it’s time you started looking
into using a tracking system.
Any solar array, no matter
what the size,
is only as powerful as the sunlight it receives. A solar tracking
system can keep your panels oriented directly towards the sun, which
could almost double the
amount of power your panels are able to
While many commercial
trackers available now are very
expensive, it doesn’t have to be impossible to keep your cells pointing
at the sun, even on a tight budget.
For most residential or
small scale commercial applications, dual axis trackers are usually far
too expensive for the limited gain you would see in a smaller solar
operation. However, single axis trackers are relatively easy to use,
and can be further tilted to adjust
for the angle of the sun depending
on the season. These trackers may still have a relatively high price
tag, but they will quickly pay for themselves with the increased energy
production that you’ll receive from your panels.
The major problem with all
solar energy and other green forms of energy is that the initial
startup costs can be quite high, however in time they will more than
pay for themselves by producing enough energy to possibly run your
entire home. Without a proper tracking system, your solar array may
only be functioning at a fraction of its possible capacity. By
investing in a solar tracking system, you can help to further reduce
your energy bills and your carbon footprint by maximizing the
efficiency of any existing solar energy unit.
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