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Solar Tracker for Photo voltaic Panels

  • 18-02-2018 3:03pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    Has anyone installed a DIY or factory made solar tracker for a PV aray?

    How much did it cost and are you happy with the results?


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Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,818 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    What would the production gain be per year as a percentage compared to a fixed south facing setup? Surely it will have to be a very cheap tracking system for it not to increase the ROI on the PV system?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    27-30% according to a little research.

    I was thinking double axis with one actuator flipping the panels east to west and manually adjustable elevation angle maybe 3-4 times a year.

    Kits on e-bay for $150ish..


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,818 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Like this?

    linky


    How many panels would that be able to handle? And would you not need to buy or make a fairly expensive moveable frame for it? As in compared to fitting it fixed to a south facing roof?

    And I wouldn't underestimate maintenance on it. Or overestimate lifespan.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    I was thinking 1 actuator and the other axis to be manually adjusted a few times a year to suit the seasons and height of sun in the sky.

    This would keep it more stable in windy weather.

    Local fabricator reckons he can make Hinged stand for €250 fully galvanized depending on price of bearings. Aluminium frame for panels would be extra.

    4kw mono at least so has to very sturdy.

    I have asked these guys for a price list, over 5k i'll bet..

    http://www.degerenergie.de/files/pdf/Datenblaetter%20DEGERtracker/Englisch/DEGERtracker_D-series_data_sheet_2017-02.pdf


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,818 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    I thought you planned to use it with a handful of panels. Makes no financial sense. But I guess with a 4kW array it does :D

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



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  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    Oh yea, this thing is gonna be big, 14-16 panels.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,818 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    The ones in your link are nice. 42 panels each (>10kW) :eek:

    They claim the increase in yield is 45%

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    I see that, probably on the equator...

    30% gain more realistic over here I reckon.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    Nobody really uses trackers as the money is better spent on more panels generally unless you have severe space restrictions and an absolute requirement to use PV.
    In windy Ireland they're going to be even more challenging.


  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    I was told i can't put them on my roof which is flat and won't take the weight of the concrete bases.

    Around the house space is limited so i decided to build a frame on a stand so they are up off the ground and will catch most sun.

    Then I thought if that stand can rotate or the frame can flip with a stepping motor or actuator controlled by an arduino/raspberry pi or something similar it would improve my gain by 30% approx.

    In my case 30% would be 5 more panels? You know price of a new mono domestic panel?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    I've never paid more than about €120 a panel but posters here tend to prefer higher priced premium ones.
    I would suggest you forget about a tracker in your situation, far too much that could go wrong.


  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    Do they all generate the same power per area are the more premium ones more efficient?

    So what are you talking for the more premium ones then?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    Premium ones are more efficient bit I had plenty of space, so price per watt was my primary concern.
    The best sunpower panels are 333W & are about 15cm shorter than regular panels, 23% efficient IIRC.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,818 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Panels last a very long time and require zero maintenance. They've also come down a lot in price in the last few years. I too would go for the cheapest panels I could find if I had plenty of space. But if you have to have them in an expensive free standing frame anyway, it might be a good solution to have tracked panels and more efficient ones at that.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    Spoke to installer yesterday and he convinced me I'm a lot better off putting in a battery instead of a tracker and he won me over.

    So getting a price for 4.5kw fixed with invertor and sonnen battery which he reckons should be less than 10k fully installed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    What capacity is the battery bank?


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Better off again just buying more solar panels.
    He wasn't a battery salesman by any chance who didn't stock tracking hardware?

    If a cell is single and a battery is a group of linked cells. What's a battery bank?
    Just a big battery really?


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Has anyone installed a DIY or factory made solar tracker for a PV aray?

    How much did it cost and are you happy with the results?

    Clicky


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    A solar tracker is a very well investemnt if you have a full 180 degrees South view exposure...and lots of panels.
    You can track the Sun moving across in the morning-lunch-afternoon across the sky.
    Full exposure - optimal tracking - maximum output.

    My curent system does this type of curvature (fixed system).
    More important to fixed systems are not to follow the Sun East to West but rather having perfect angle to the Sun's position up in the Sky(been stationary pointed South or mounted in East-West systems).Same system as below,summer time can do 2-3 times more generation.


    443743.jpg

    Compared to a nice designed and programmed tracker,not mine,as below:

    443742.jpg


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Tracker = +20% gain. It'll still be parabolic around midday. Slightly asymmetric due to heat derating.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Tracker = +20% gain. It'll still be parabolic around midday. Slightly asymmetric due to heat derating.

    I dont have one,im plannig few if i can move out of this estate BUT these Pros H E R E says different story of 40ish than us.

    And ,not lastly,with a tracker you can have that morning shower powered by Sun and not by greed / grid ...:)

    Get a nice 15 panels x 330W -= 5kw
    Get maybe 3 trackers deployed to get you trough bad days and you are off grid fully compliant ! :)


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Right you be.

    I best hurry up with my single axis manual job.


  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    You have a battery rolion?

    Summertime is best gain but least power usage for me with HP.

    The winter sun rise and fall angle is 90/100 degrees with 15 degrees elevation.

    Summertime 250 degrees with 55-60 degrees elevation.

    So single axis on elevation for winter gains for starters and see what happens..

    Got info here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland/wexford?month=6&year=2018http://https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland/wexford?month=6&year=2018


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    You have a battery rolion?

    Summertime is best gain but least power usage for me with HP.

    The winter sun rise and fall angle is 90/100 degrees with 15 degrees elevation.

    Summertime 250 degrees with 55-60 degrees elevation.

    So single axis on elevation for winter gains for starters and see what happens..

    Got info here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland/wexford?month=6&year=2018http://https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland/wexford?month=6&year=2018


    Thanks !!!
    I will love it to be able to do that !
    At least on a single axis but...how,shift up and down the whole stuctural roof !?

    I repeat myself, trackers are brilliant only if you have the enironmental privilege to design so it follows a full 180 degrees unobstructured South skyline...until then,we complement "the minus" of the unit with "the plus" of good premium panels. ( that costs more than €120 ! :) )


  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    I have 180 degrees and more south facing. Sun dips behind a hotel west north-west about 8pm in the summertime.

    Ah ok, I will be ground mounted so easier adjust..


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    I have 180 degrees and more south facing. Sun dips behind a hotel west north-west about 8pm in the summertime.

    Ah ok, I will be ground mounted so easier adjust..

    Go for...I will love to help you FoC so that I can see it with my hands...

    You could go with a single axis, as for the up-down is easy down on a metallic pole of some sort secured with screws and marks for each month of the year and moved only at 3 weeks maybe.

    If you have the funds and space, go for the pole mounted one, dual axis, quite expensive as you will need the circular motor to support the panel structure and step-by-step turn it west to east and reset over night for the next day/cycle.
    Alternative, I will go with a square metallic structure mounted on a pole but moved by some heavy duty linear motors, similar like ones used in older big satellite dishes (named actuators). I have few sources of powerful resistant linear actuators off ebay.
    Biggest issue that I had at some point with the dual axis was the digital versus analogue controls of the assembly...such as fuzzy logic, real-time position and feedback from the positioners. Due to the size, length and the full 180 degrees, I was forced to use one push and other pull actuators.What if the controller was saying move up and move down but motors weren't "online" and the whole structure could have been damaged !?

    In the end,i decided to go on a positioner in the form of wide letter U, anchored in two places in the ground mounted foundation and get the panels structure on two flexible moveable screws attached at the top and the bottom of each side and move at a short linear length East to West while move it up and down from the foundation poles... all done with two very powerful linear have duty actuators off UK. cant describe it, sorry !


    I don't have a battery yet, i seen many many trade offers for off-gridders but none convinced me to get it. Afraid of the discharge time and lack of the expensive controls associated with the performance of cycles, discharge, floating...don't have the time yet but keeping my eye on few of them alright.


    I watched hundreds of online resources..



    please see below the ones that opened the secret behind the mechanical operation and linking, securely allowing moving of all the parts:










  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ samdeluxjones


    Great videos Rolion.

    I had actually called Greenman Solar for a price on that exact tracker which is coming in at about 5 grand installed.

    I also contacted the manufacturer in Germany and they would only deal with registered suppliers.

    It's looking like I will get the storage battery and mount the array due south on a hinged frame that can be adjusted manually for altitude through the seasons.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Great videos Rolion.

    I had actually called Greenman Solar for a price on that exact tracker which is coming in at about 5 grand installed.

    I also contacted the manufacturer in Germany and they would only deal with registered suppliers.

    It's looking like I will get the storage battery and mount the array due south on a hinged frame that can be adjusted manually for altitude through the seasons.

    Thanks...they are expensive if you go with the manufactured standard solution / product. Go the way of DIY and you will realise how simple and cost effective is. Keep looking... :)

    Battery bank, i don't think we are there yet, give it another 3-5 years so that the petrol companyes will start shifting the focus and int€re$t from underground to up_in_the_sky financial models.

    Trackers are most efficient for a big array of at least 15 panels AND a clear unobstructed view of 180 degrees of the mighty sky... the generated shape changes from a standard round slope to a more nicer square type, and from the first sunray that touches the surface of the silicon chip...

    This is my ideal location for a 2-3 tracked PV arrays...

    449974.jpg


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    A graph with yesterday production
    The red line... i will guess will have been with the tracker installed. but i get only another proof that the Earth is round and spins around...

    450188.jpg


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    If you have clear unobstructed views in every direction, you're likely to have plenty of space around you for fixed ground mounts.
    PV is getting cheaper all the time and every drop in the cost of PV makes trackers less economic.
    I have fixed arrays facing East, West and South now. I get a curve like the one you posted but obviously with a lower peak. If I had limitless space I still wouldn't go with a tracker. Fixed arrays require no maintenance and are far less vulnerable to storm damage.
    I'd possibly consider manually adjustable tilt on ground mount racks but nothing more.


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