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Remaining fixated while the sun moves – well, that’s the panel’s main issue, right? Then let’s move the panel along with the sun’s motion throughout the day! If we can keep the solar panel’s profile perpendicular to the sun, we will be able to extract the maximum amount of energy! The concept might seem relatively simple, but the technology that goes behind designing automatic solar tracking systems is far from simple.

Automatic solar tracking systems – Sensors – data-driven technology!

Sensing devices are integral to the system as they monitor sunlight intensity (track the sun’s position) and convey its data to the sun-tracking algorithm that moves the solar panel towards the sun. The sensory data consequently dictates the tracker’s sensitivity. This means, indirect sunlight – an increase in sensitivity occurs, and in cloudy (or scattered light) conditions – sensitivity decreases. This programming is important because it eradicates unnecessary sunlight searching in overcast weather.

During the design of an automatic solar tracking system, factors such as pressure, temperature, and humidity have an impact on efficiency and power output – and sensors are used to measure these factors as well. Other crucial sensing devices (or equivalent alternatives) when designing an automatic solar tracking system include speed controllers, inclinometers (to supply the required tilt angle), and anemometers (which assess wind speeds and notify the tracker to position safely until speeds reach acceptable range). Thus, the circuitry receives a digital representation of the detected data and activates the moving components.

Sun-tracking algorithms in automatic solar tracking systems

In software design, algorithms are finite sequences of computable instructions which are used to execute a calculation. These calculations provide the solar azimuth (that is, the position of the sun) as well as the solar zenith angles (the angle found from the sun’s rays to the vertical direction). These calculations determine the orientation of the solar panel and position it towards the sun’s rays.

Hustling hardware – the control unit in the solar tracking systems

The control unit controls the overall operation. It uses the data computed by the sun-tracking algorithm and consequently dictates the motions of the positioning system.

Body of the operations – the positioning system

This is what physically moves the panel to optimal angles. It is either hydraulic or functioned electrically – depending on the scope when designing an automatic solar tracking system.

Drive mechanisms

These are basically the mechanisms that facilitate the transmission of mechanical power in the system. This includes worm gears, spindles, hydraulic cylinders, actuators, etc.

With time, designing an automatic solar tracking system will be a technological application critical to solar energy harvesting!

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