Solar trackers follow the sun.

The term ‘solar’ is related to the sun, and the term ‘tracker’ basically means to follow something. I love it when devices are named describing exactly what they do!

In relation to photovoltaic panels, solar trackers orient toward the sun to harness more sunlight. Solar trackers are positioned and attached to solar panels. Depending on the type of trackers obtained and installed, the range of tilt will vary.

The idea is to be able to tilt the solar panels in the direction that the sun moves throughout the day and, hence, throughout the year as the seasons and weather changes. The functionality is simple – the more the photovoltaic panels can face directly toward the sun, the more power can be generated.

What type of solar trackers are there?

Currently, there are innovative designs being engineered to track the movement of the sun in a more freely rotational manner rather than utilizing the existing passive and active trackers available. But in this particular blog article, I’m going to give a basic introduction of solar trackers that move along via single axis and dual axis, as well as the simple mechanics in tracker drives.

As the description indicates, dual axis trackers enable solar panels to move in two directions rather than one, which means obtaining more power from the sun due to the greater range of directional positioning.

How do solar trackers work?

There are two different drivers that dictate the motion of the trackers: passive and active.

Passive trackers depend solely on solar heat to guide and move the tracker. Basically, a low boiling point compressed gas fluid is driven to one side or the other to move the tracker like a teeter totter in response to the imbalance created by the heat from the sun.

Active trackers use a controller that monitors the position of the sun’s movement in order to direct motors that move the trackers.

Are solar trackers necessary?

Many standard PV systems in residential areas do not have solar trackers. For their purposes, having the stand-alone system is sufficient and meets the needs and goals of the customer.

Whether solar trackers are beneficial and recommended is dependent on various factors, including weather, location, obstruction, and cost. In some cases, solar trackers can potentially make solar panels 25-35% more efficient, which means that more power can be generated with less space and less panels.

However, if the location of the installation does not allow the trackers to work effectively, then the cost of purchasing the solar trackers can lead to money wasted. So, it’s important to discuss your goals with your installer and have them give you a full on-site analysis of your particular project.

Where can I place solar trackers?

Again, it’s better to discuss this with your installer. But in general, solar trackers work best in non-shaded areas of the ground or on flat roofs.

Curious about trackers for your home or business?

Ask! Ask! Ask! – your local installer. If you’re in Northern California, don’t hesitate to buzz The Solar Company or shoot us an email!