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  • Writer's pictureRenewSys India

Solar Trackers

Trackers automatically adjust your system so that your panels always face directly at the sun. The concept is to squeeze as much production as possible out of your panels.

What to know about solar trackers?

  • Solar trackers help maximize solar production by following the sun throughout the day

  • Solar trackers are usually used in commercial installations or other large ground-mounted arrays

What are solar trackers? Single-axis vs Dual-axis solar trackers :

A solar tracking system maximizes your solar system's electricity production by moving your panels to follow the sun throughout the day, which optimizes the angle at which your panels receive solar radiation. Solar trackers are typically used for ground-mounted solar panels and large, free-standing solar installations like solar trees. They are typically not used in most residential solar projects but have a place in the utility-scale and commercial/industrial solar markets.

When solar panels are exposed to sunlight, the angle at which the sun's rays meet the surface of the solar panel (known as the ("angle of incidence") determines how well the panel can convert the incoming light into electricity. The narrower the angle of incidence, the more energy a photovoltaic panel can produce. Solar trackers help to minimize this angle by working to orient panels so that light strikes them perpendicular to their surface.

There are two types of solar tracking systems: single-axis and dual-axis.

  • A single-axis tracker moves your panels on one axis of movement, usually aligned with north and south. These setups allow your panels to arc from east to west and track the sun as it rises and sets.

A dual-axis tracker allows your panels to move on two axis, aligned both north-south and east-west. This type of system is designed to maximize your solar energy collection throughout the year. It can track seasonal variations in the height of the sun in addition to normal daily motion.

Typically, dual-axis trackers (made by companies like (AllEarth Renewables) are a much less popular option for solar installations, even among large, utility-scale projects. A situation where dual-axis trackers may be appropriate would be on some commercial properties - due to limited commercial rooftop space for solar panels to be installed, dual-axis trackers that can produce up to 45% more energy than typical static panels can help businesses produce enough power to fuel their operations in a small space. Utility-scale installations usually don't need dual-axis setups, because they are located on large plots of land without the tight space constraints of commercial roof space.

Benefits and drawbacks of solar trackers:

The biggest benefit of a solar tracking system is that it offers a boost in electricity production. Generally, a solar panel system with a single-axis solar tracker installed sees a performance gain of 25 to 35 percent. A dual-axis tracker bumps performance up by another 5 to 10 percent.

If you live in a high latitude where the sun's position in the sky varies dramatically between the summer and winter months, a dual-axis tracking system may be a good way to maximize your solar production and collect enough power for your home or property.

However, there are some disadvantages to having a solar tracking system. They tend to have higher installation and maintenance costs. A solar tracker will cost more money upfront than a fixed solar panel system because it is a more complex technology and has moving parts. This also leads to the second area of increased cost for solar tracking systems and maintenance, which can add up in cost over time.

Another disadvantage of a solar tracker is that they are typically too heavy to be used in rooftop solar projects. If you want a solar panel system that has tracking features, be prepared to install a ground-mounted array.

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