Photo voltaic trackers enable your photo voltaic panels to observe the solar’s path within the sky, similar to a sunflower, to allow them to produce extra solar energy. However, photo voltaic monitoring methods include a excessive price ticket.
Is the additional solar energy output definitely worth the further value of a photo voltaic tracker? Normally, it makes extra sense to only set up extra photo voltaic panels.
Beneath, we clarify every little thing you should learn about photo voltaic trackers, from what sorts there are as to if or not they’re a worthwhile funding.
What’s a photo voltaic tracker?
A photo voltaic tracker is a tool that follows the solar because it strikes throughout the sky. When photo voltaic trackers are coupled with photo voltaic panels, the panels can observe the trail of the solar and produce extra renewable vitality so that you can use.
Photo voltaic trackers are normally paired with ground mount solar systems but recently, rooftop-mounted trackers have come onto the market.
Usually, photo voltaic monitoring gear can be linked to the racking of the photo voltaic panels. From there, the photo voltaic panels will have the ability to transfer together with the motion of the solar.
The way in which a photo voltaic monitoring system strikes relies on the kind of system it’s. There are three kinds of solar monitoring methods:
1. Handbook photo voltaic trackers
Handbook trackers require somebody to bodily modify the panels at totally different occasions all through the day to observe the solar. This isn’t at all times sensible, as you want somebody to continuously monitor the solar and alter the place of the photo voltaic panel system.
2. Passive photo voltaic trackers
Passive trackers include a liquid with a low boiling level that can evaporate when uncovered to photo voltaic radiation. When the liquid evaporates, the lean system turns into imbalanced. This imbalance causes the panels to tilt in the direction of the course of the solar’s rays.
3. Energetic photo voltaic trackers
Energetic trackers depend on motors or hydraulic cylinders to vary place. The motors in energetic trackers will transfer the PV panels so they’re dealing with the solar. Whereas that is extra handy than guide trackers, the shifting elements inside the motors might simply break. This might result in increased upkeep prices over the lifetime of the system.
From there, photo voltaic trackers could be categorized even additional, primarily based on which course they transfer. A photo voltaic tracker could be both:
- Single axis photo voltaic tracker
- Twin axis photo voltaic tracker
Single axis photo voltaic tracker
Single axis trackers observe the place of the solar because it strikes from east to west. These are normally utilized in utility-scale tasks. A single axis tracker can enhance manufacturing between 25% to 35%.
Twin axis photo voltaic tracker
This tracker not solely tracks the solar because it strikes east to west, but additionally follows it because it strikes from north to south. Two axis trackers are extra widespread amongst residential and small business photo voltaic tasks which have restricted area, to allow them to produce sufficient energy to satisfy their vitality wants.
Twin axis trackers can enhance vitality manufacturing by about 40%.
How a lot does a photo voltaic tracker value?
Photo voltaic trackers can tremendously enhance the price of a photovoltaic photo voltaic set up. A regular 4 kilowatt, ground-mounted photo voltaic system will value about $13,000. Monitoring gear can value anyplace from $500 per panel to over $1,000 per panel.
For those who included a single axis monitoring system on the identical array, it will drive the price as much as about $20,000. That’s a premium of 57% over the price of the mounted array for simply 35% extra photo voltaic output.
A twin axis monitoring system would value much more, popping out to round $26,000. That’s double the price of the whole mounted floor mounted system!
What are the professionals and cons of utilizing a photo voltaic tracker?
Identical to every little thing else, photo voltaic trackers have advantages and downsides.
Professionals of photo voltaic trackers
- Monitoring methods provide larger ranges of vitality output in comparison with mounted photo voltaic arrays as a result of they will observe the solar’s actions.
- The number of trackers accessible from producers like Allearth Solar and First Sunergy makes it attainable to discover a unit that’s excellent to your wants.
- Photo voltaic trackers are very useful in areas with Time of Use electrical energy charges. Extra vitality will have the ability to be produced throughout peak hours, which implies you received’t must pay for grid vitality when it’s most costly.
Cons of photo voltaic trackers
- Photo voltaic trackers are very costly and might simply double venture prices.
- Photo voltaic trackers are made up of shifting elements, which implies they’re extra more likely to break. This results in increased upkeep prices.
- Deciding to put in trackers might require further web site planning and preparation, together with digging further wiring trenches and further web site grading.
Are photo voltaic trackers definitely worth the further funding?
Normally, photo voltaic trackers usually are not definitely worth the further funding, although they do produce extra electrical energy. As a result of solar panels are cheaper than ever, it would cost less to install more solar panels than it would to include a tracking system.
For example, let’s say you installed 15 ground mounted solar panels that had a power rating of 300 watts. The total cost of this system would be $14,625.
Now, let’s say you wanted to have a single axis solar tracker included in this system. That would cost an additional $500 per solar module. That’s $7,500 just for the tracking equipment. Installing double axis tracking equipment would cost you an extra $15,000!
It is true that the systems with tracking equipment would produce more electricity than the fixed system. But are the additional savings really worth the enormous added costs of tracking equipment?
The following table lists out how much a fixed system, a single axis tracking system, and a dual axis tracking system would save you on your electricity bill:
|Solar system type||System cost||Annual energy savings||Estimated payback period|
|Fixed ground-mounted system||$14,625||$1,100||13 years|
|Ground-mounted system with single axis tracker||$22,125||$1,430||15.5 years|
|Ground-mounted system with double axis tracker||$29,625||$1,540||19 years|
You would spend an extra $15,000 for a tracking system, and in return only get an additional $440 in savings a year. The payback period for the system would jump to almost 20 years!
Instead, you could install 6 additional solar panels and generate the same amount of power that a dual axis system would. The best part is you would only have to spend an extra $5,850 to increase the number of panels in your solar energy system.
To track or not to track?
In almost all scenarios, especially for residential solar systems, solar trackers are not worth the additional investment. This is why solar trackers aren’t widely used in the residential solar industry.
Where solar trackers do become useful is when you have limited space for an installation. If you do not have the space for additional solar panels, installing a solar tracking system would allow you to produce more power in a limited area. Solar trackers are also useful in large scale utility or commercial installations.
It’s important to consult with a local solar installer to find out exactly how much a solar tracking system would cost you. You can use our solar calculator to get an idea of the price of solar in your area and how much making the switch to solar can save you on your electric bill.
- Solar tracking systems allow solar panels to follow the sun’s path in the sky to produce more solar electricity.
- While solar trackers will increase the solar panel system’s energy production, they are very expensive and can potentially double the cost of installing solar panels.
- In many cases, it is cheaper to install more solar panels to increase the system’s energy output than it is to install a solar tracker.
- If you have limited space and cannot install more solar panels, then a solar tracker might be the best option for you.