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Solar Power Tracking Systems

Anybody who wants to boost the performance of their solar power equipment should consider a tracking system. Tracking systems increase the amount of radiation received by a solar power system, which in turn increases our ability to create heat or generate electricity.

As an example, we looked up the solar energy tables for Colorado and noticed that 45% additional energy could be received using a tracking system during the summer months. This increase remains a firm 25% during the Spring, and roughly 15% during the Winter. These numbers will depend on the type of tracking system that is used and the location of installation, but in general they are good in any sunny climate (i.e. Colorado, Montana, Idaho, California, Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, etc.).

The most basic type of tracking is a manually adjustable one axis system, which will provide between 10 – 25% additional power across the seasons. The users make an adjustment every 2 to 3 months to make sure the panels are “tuned” for the season. They have other advantages as well, discussed further in our articles on solar panel performance and one axis tracking.

Automatic one axis tracking systems are available that rotate in the East-West direction with the path of the Sun. Performance gains are 40% or more in the summer months, which commands serious consideration. There is the added cost of installation and the complexity of the control mechanism, but this is usually offset by all the extra energy made available to the solar power system.

The highest upgrade with solar power tracking is an actively controlled two axis system. These systems have enough maneuverability to exactly follow the path of the Sun. The cost and complexity of a dual axis system makes them more of a specialty, but they are the most accurate units available and are necessary for systems that use concentrating solar collectors. Concentrating solar collectors generate high temperatures by reflecting the solar rays to a small region or focal point. Thermal steam generators and modern Stirling engines are examples of solar power systems that use these types of collectors.

Whether for solar power electricity or solar thermal storage, a good tracking system will boost your system's performance. It all boils down to the simplicity, the up front costs, and the performance gains desired for your particular system. Most of us will probably be limited to the passive or active one axis tracking systems, however it is good to know that dual axis systems are available for specialty applications.

MicroGrid Living

- MicroGrid Power Systems
- Benefits of the MicroGrid
- Running on DC Electricity
- Things to Think About
- Sizing Your Microgrid Power System
- Energy Conservation Strategies
- Hybrid Power Systems

MicroGrid Solar Power

- Solar Power Applications
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Increasing Solar Panel Performance
- Mounting PV Solar Panels
- Solar Power Tracking Systems
- One Axis Solar Panel Tracking (Passive)
- Solar Power Cost & Payback
- Sizing your Solar Power System

MicroGrid Power Devices

- Wind Turbines
- Wood Burner Systems
- Thermal Power Systems
- DC Thermal Generators
- Hydro Turbines

MicroGrid History

- Nikola Tesla Source of Human Energy
- Nikola Tesla Energy from the Medium
- James Watt & the Steam Engine
- Marcellus Jacob Wind Turbine

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