Solar power systems are relatively simple in terms of their components, as residential systems are comprised of panels and inverters, with batteries sometimes added. One additional component that is often found in these systems is a tracker. Solar trackers are designed to automatically aim the solar panels at the sun as it "moves" across the sky, thus maximizing available solar energy. They offer several advantages to fixed panels, but there are a few disadvantages you should be aware of as well. Below is more information about solar trackers and a brief discussion of their pros and cons:
How solar trackers work
Some solar trackers manipulate the direction of solar panels by using a computer-guided motor and linkage system, which in turn moves the panels mechanically. Such systems are macro-sized versions of those found in auto-tracking amateur telescopes. Another tracker variation uses an internal liquid and gas pressurization arrangement. The heat of the sun causes liquid to transition to gas, which in turn causes the panels to tilt in response until they are aligned with the sun's rays. In both systems, the panels are attached to a multi-positionable mount that can be directed in any necessary direction.
Solar panel trackers are available in two configurations: single-axis trackers, which are able to aim the panels at the sun anywhere along its daily east-to-west track, and dual-axis trackers, which can do this plus account for the north-south variation of the sun as the seasons progress.
Pros of using a solar tracker in a residential system
Energy input increase
By far, the biggest advantage of using a solar panel tracker with a residential solar-power system is an increase in available energy input. Being able to aim the solar panels directly at the sun in order to draw power can bring big gains and reduce the dependence on other options, such as grid-tied or generator systems. Specifically, this increase can help by:
Providing extra power to sell back to an electrical utility provider—More power means more money in the bank by reducing the need for supplemental power from the grid and by allowing you to sell back more power than before.
Minimize the amount of panel space needed to produce an equivalent amount of electricity—Solar panels can take up a considerable amount of space, but when you add a tracker, the increase in system efficiency is akin to adding panel space without actually taking up additional square footage.
Increase system flexibility by allowing more power usage by residents—The increase in power permits those in the home to use their available power more freely.
Drawbacks of using a solar tracker in a residential system
Solar panel trackers add to the installation costs of a residential solar-power system by requiring the addition of the motors and linkages or fluid/gas pressurization capabilities. In addition, the solar panels must be attached to flexible mounts that can move in response to inputs given by the tracker. All of these components will cost more and increase the dollars-per-watt needed to operate the system.
Another concern that can detract from the use of a solar panel tracker in a residential system is their need for ongoing maintenance. Due to the complexity of the mechanical, computer, and electrical devices and their need to operate with strict precision, it can be challenging to keep them adequately maintained from year-to-year. Lubrication, calibration, and various adjustments over time are just a few of the possible maintenance activities that can add to the cost or time investment.
Problems in cold climates
In cold climates, solar panels attached to trackers are more vulnerable to problems with snow accumulation. Snow weighs down solar panels considerably, and a system that uses a tracker may not be able to move the laden panels to their proper positions.
For more information on solar panels, contact a company like AAA Solar Source.
Hi there, my name is Den. Welcome. I am excited to share my knowledge about solar power installations on this site. I will talk about all of the ways solar power systems are used on residential and commercial buildings. My site will cover the equipment and supplies you will need to install your own solar power system. I will share information about the tools and techniques used to install and maintain the solar panels and battery packs. I hope you can follow along to learn more about this exciting renewable energy option. Thank you for your time. I hope to see you again soon.