Post By
Samarth Gara

What Are Solar Trackers? Is It Worth The Investment?

February 4, 2021

Solar technology is improving continuously, and advancements are taking place at a rapid rate today. New types pieces of equipment are designed by solar panel companies to provide tough competition to the other brands in the industry. This automatically increases the efficiency and productivity of the equipment. Solar trackers are one of the many inventions that assist in providing a better power output throughout the day by following the sun’s path. 

 

How Does A Solar Tracker Work?

Solar trackers are designed to follow the rays of the sun at all times to maximize the power output. This is done using specific software and drivers. The sensors in the tracker react to sunlight and linked motors follow the GPS coordinates of the position in which the sensor is placed. The mechanism might sound very simple and, yet it is extremely effective. 

There are a few solar tracking systems that function with the help of compressed liquid and gas, while others work with small PV panels that can effectively power the driving systems. 

 

Types Of Solar Trackers

There are mainly two types of solar trackers that are used- single-axis and dual-axis solar trackers. Let us now look at the important differences between the two, so that you can easily figure out which one is best suited to you. 

 

Single-axis Solar Tracker:

A Single r-axis solar tracker rotates using a single point and its movement is in unison based on panel row or by section. This kind of solar tracker tracks the sun in an  East to  West direction and recently they became a part of utility-scale applications. Research shows that while several years ago, single-axis trackers were never used, only two years ago their usage increased to 70%. This shows how rapidly these trackers have become an irreplaceable part of the utility-scale market. 

On comparing single-axis solar trackers with the dual-axis ones, it can be noted that the former collects less energy per unit. However, in general, they are much easier to maintain and use.  There is also an option to choose between centralized or decentralized single-axis tracker types.  Both the types occupy very little space wherever they are installed.A single motor powers the centralized tracker and the segment of panels are moved by the driveline between rows. On the other hand, the decentralized tracker has one motor for every tracking row. 

Advancement in technology has today allowed solar rows to substitute for row and horizon shading, deal with adverse wind situations, and diffuse light. Thus, even when there is hardly any sunlight, the tracker is able to catch the available diffused light. In certain advanced solar tracking systems, there are system-level monitors that allow tracking to continue despite harsh weather conditions. 

There are a few limitations of these trackers, as installing them becomes a problem in higher topographies. However, with new technology, this is improving and now we have trackers that are accustomed to colder climates and also  in sitations when there is extreme snowfall. 

 

Dual-axis Solar Tracker:

Experts have suggested using dual-axis solar trackers since they capture the sunlight directly as they rotate on both X and Y axes. The arc of the sun varies from season to season and this determines the rotation of the earth, which is not always the same. However, even with the ever-changing positions of the sun, the dual-axis solar tracker can track sunlight. This is the main reason, why they are considered to function better than single-axis solar trackers. 

These trackers yield more energy. In fact, it is almost 30 to 45 percent more energy than the other tilt-solar panels. They are considered ideal for residential areas even though they are becoming more common for utility-scale applications. 

To allow the solar panels to reach a better and higher range angle, these trackers are installed at a height, such as an elevated platform. 20 panels per unit can be covered by a single dual-axis solar tracker. However, there is a limitation to this. You will have a hard time reaching the elevated post while cleaning the tracker, which is something crucial for its maintenance. You can use the space above the place where the tracker is installed for agriculture or similar work. Rooftop solar systems are still being developed and it will take a few years before they become popular. 

 

Does Tracking Of The Solar Panel Throughout The Day Give More Energy?

It is true that tracking of the solar panel throughout the day gives more energy as compared to its stationary counterparts. The exposure to the sun is automatically increased with the help of a tracker, as it tracks the path of the sun and even when the light is diffused, the tracker can capture some sunlight. Depending on the geographic location, a tracker produces almost 10%-25% more energy. 

They generate more energy even after occupying the same amount of space as the standard solar systems. Thus, they optimize land usage which is always a great thing. There are certain places in the world where there is ‘Time Of Use’ rate plans of solar power. This means that during peak times of the day, the utility purchases the power generated at that time. Even for situations like these, tracking the solar panels benefits the utility industry more. 

Despite these advantages, there are a few disadvantages as well. They tend to require more maintenance and frequent washing for proper functioning. They are also slightly more expensive as compared to the standard types of solar trackers. These trackers are also a problem in cold places with snowfall and hence, it is best to install them in places with warm climates. 

 

Conclusion

If you own a solar system, you should definitely consider getting a solar tracking system to enhance the power output. The initial costs and expenses of maintenance are covered by the exceptional performance of the trackers. They are worth the investment, because of how much more energy they are able to produce when compared to a standard solar system without a tracker. 

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