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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 ensure that the perpendicular profile of the solar panel with the sun, is retained – then maximum energy is extracted! The concept might seem relatively simple, but the technology that goes behind designing an automatic solar tracking system, is far from simple.

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Sensors – data-driven technology!

Sensing devices are integral to the system as they monitor sunlight intensity (track the sun’s position) and conveys 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, in direct 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.

Pressure, temperature, and humidity also affect the efficiency and power output of an automatic solar tracking system. Sensors are also a part in this case. When making an automatic solar tracking system, speed controllers, inclinometers (to get the right tilt angle), and anemometers are also important sensing devices (or alternatives) (which assess wind speeds and notify the tracker to position safely until speeds reach acceptable range). So, it send the digital representation of the data that was found to the circuitry, which then moves the parts.

Sun-tracking algorithms

In software design, algorithms are finite sequences of computable instructions that executes 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 positions it towards the sun’s rays.

Hustling hardware – the control unit

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 scope when designing an automatic solar tracking system.

Drive mechanisms

These are basically the mechanisms that facilitate 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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