Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

FarmerFarmer Registered Users Posts: 24
Looking at the sunflower brand the tracker controller is for dual axis. It is a hybrid controller, which means using optical sensor under sunny days. When it is overcast, the controller will turn to experience mode. Trackers moves according to the records it takes in past few days. around $650.00 anything else out there that compares?

Comments

  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    How large of an array is it capable of moving? How much more energy (percent) will it collect? How much would it cost to get that extra energy by just add a few more panels to your array?

    More and more folks are finding that its just as cheap to add extra panels as to add a tracker. And its not a purely economic decision... the extra panels will be much more reliable and maintenance free than the tracker.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • FarmerFarmer Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    vtmaps wrote: »
    How large of an array is it capable of moving? How much more energy (percent) will it collect? How much would it cost to get that extra energy by just add a few more panels to your array?

    More and more folks are finding that its just as cheap to add extra panels as to add a tracker. And its not a purely economic decision... the extra panels will be much more reliable and maintenance free than the tracker.

    --vtMaps
    The collector is 16x41 feet it moves in duel axis, it did not cost much to built myself and takes very little effort to move nothing fancy like slew drives. No going back now it's made. And it will bring in 60 percent more energy.
  • Rick1Rick1 Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    Farmer wrote: »
    The collector is 16x41 feet it moves in duel axis, it did not cost much to built myself and takes very little effort to move nothing fancy like slew drives. No going back now it's made. And it will bring in 60 percent more energy.

    I hate to bust your bubble but I have not seen nor hear of anyone getting 60% more just for a tracker. Maybe 20 to 30 but no 60 not even close.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    Assuming Vancover BC, Canada, using PV Watts, fixed array vs 2 axis tracking:
    fixed tilt to latitude:
    
    Month      Solar Radiation (kWh/m2/day)
    1           1.41     
    2           2.69     
    3           3.44     
    4           5.13     
    5           5.43     
    6           5.25     
    7           6.03     
    8           5.60     
    9           5.04     
    10          2.72     
    11          1.68     
    12          1.32     
    Year           3.82
    
    two axis tracking:
    
    Month      Solar Radiation (kWh/m2/day)
    1                1.57     
    2                3.15     
    3                4.23     
    4                7.04     
    5                8.12     
    6                8.19     
    7                9.78     
    8                7.83     
    9                6.53     
    10                3.16     
    11                1.89     
    12                1.52     
    Year                5.26      
    

    Sure can get a lot of power in the summer up towards the poles.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    Ahem Bill, Coot and I are ~ 250 miles north of Vancouver and we are about 1/4 of the way to the Northern border of BC let alone toward the 'Pole'...to us Vancouver is almost (in) California...;)

    http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.gonorthwest.com/BC/images_bc/map_bc.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.gonorthwest.com/BC/British-Columbia-Map.htm&h=359&w=405&sz=53&tbnid=QbgRlWWZBrkyDM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=102&zoom=1&usg=__8AEJTho0MwrgcE2aN2sJjN7ReWc=&docid=4UVkoBqHgZwf_M&sa=X&ei=sdTCUMW3BYmQiQKe64HoDQ&ved=0CEEQ9QEwAA&dur=738

    see Highway 20 intersection with 97
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    BB. wrote: »

    Sure can get a lot of power in the summer up towards the poles.

    -Bill

    Just think what you could get above the Arctic circle, in the summer, with a 360 degree perpetually rotating tracker (oh, and no atmosphere to filter out solar radiation...:roll:)
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    And even more harvest above the poles where you can track the craft that the panels are mounted on!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • TnAndyTnAndy Solar Expert Posts: 249 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    Rick1 wrote: »
    I hate to bust your bubble but I have not seen nor hear of anyone getting 60% more just for a tracker. Maybe 20 to 30 but no 60 not even close.


    That's been my experience......slightly less than 20% on single axis trackers ( two of them ) and just slightly more on a dual. I'm going on 4 years with 3 separate tracking arrays, and my latest array is a fixed mount. Trackers are fun, and cool to watch, but also a PITA.
    Panels I paid $600 for last fall were down to $350 this fall. (Solarworld).

    10 panel tracking array in background. Ground mount for 10 panel fixed array. ( Enphase inverters already mounted )

    ry%3D480
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    For offgrid the total harvest is not really as important as the earlier time in the morning when you go off the battery and the later time in the evening when you go back on.
    The dual axis machine is pretty much a waste offgrid. The Wattsun's have not really ever been a pain for me. 14 or so now. If they were I would have stopped using them 10 years ago.

    On a really cloudy day a dual axis that goes flat will capture about the same harvest as one that is tracking where the sun "should be". Kind of a waste unless it minimizes movement. Some of my opinion is direct experience and some is from reports I have seen from Aerospace Earth station contractors. Islands and mountain tops.
    Movement on the second axis is where the wear is and that is why I do not use dual axis offgrid. There are a few cases where it helps for places with excessive wind and snow. When there is not a powerline back-up, everything that moves must be bulletproof. What is the "Sunflower" BTW?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • FarmerFarmer Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    Rick1 wrote: »
    I hate to bust your bubble but I have not seen nor hear of anyone getting 60% more just for a tracker. Maybe 20 to 30 but no 60 not even close.

    I have been watching the sun for 10 years here, and just mounting them south would not work it travels 0ver 270 degrees in summer. And it makes sense to me if the sun's rays are 90 degrees to the panel it should give 100 percent of potential output.
  • FarmerFarmer Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions
    For offgrid the total harvest is not really as important as the earlier time in the morning when you go off the battery and the later time in the evening when you go back on.
    The dual axis machine is pretty much a waste offgrid. The Wattsun's have not really ever been a pain for me. 14 or so now. If they were I would have stopped using them 10 years ago.

    On a really cloudy day a dual axis that goes flat will capture about the same harvest as one that is tracking where the sun "should be". Kind of a waste unless it minimizes movement. Some of my opinion is direct experience and some is from reports I have seen from Aerospace Earth station contractors. Islands and mountain tops.
    Movement on the second axis is where the wear is and that is why I do not use dual axis offgrid. There are a few cases where it helps for places with excessive wind and snow. When there is not a powerline back-up, everything that moves must be bulletproof. What is the "Sunflower" BTW?
    The Sunflower is a web site http://www.sunflowerenergyinc.com
  • JimbobTheSailorJimbobTheSailor Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    I've just completed designing and building from the ground up, a dual tracker, 9 panel system for a home project.

    The tracking is controlled by a microprocessor that accepts as input the latitude, longitude and the time/date. The solar constants are solved on the fly based on these and the system maintains an angle to the sun (in both axis) of less than 10 degrees. That is, when the sun is > 10 degrees from the perpendicular of the panel in either azimuth or elevation, the panels are updated. The 10 degrees is user set. The accuracy of the system is 0.5 degrees. An anemometer is also used to keep an eye on the wind speed. Too high a wind and the panels move into 'high wind mode'; the elevation is set horizontal to spill the air. There is also a hail mode that moves the panels vertical. The system is updated from a PC application which provides a graphical view of the days solar orbits, the projected panel updates, current panel positions, wind speed, and next update time. The PC application is used to set the various configurable items, such as the actual angle of elevation for high wind / hail, time, date, lat/long, and allows a manual mode where you drive the panels graphically to any angle

    Anyway the sofware took well over a year to develop (my background is in real time embedded software/hardware design for biomedical devices) and given its maturity, and all the effort, I thought I'd try and make the control module available to the DIY solar tracker market, not sure how though, or even if. Do you think there is demand for a ready built little microprocessor module whose output can drive your dual (or single) tracker?


    UPDATE: Screen shots from the SolarUtility application
    1. http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/9603/solarutilityscreenshot1.png
    2. http://img571.imageshack.us/img571/5333/solarutilityscreenshot2.png

    Note in the first image, the current location of the panels is denoted by a green filled square box, the destination position is a pinkish box. The panel orbit for the day is a series of green white filled squares (of which one is pink filled as this is the destination) and the current location of sun, and its orbit is shown
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Need a solar tracker controller suggestions

    I'll start with a simple Query, what voltage did you use for powering the drivers?
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
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