Solar Trackers

Hi, I have a fixed array of 1.6 kw which will be expanded to 2.4 kw soon. I also have another 800 watts of 8 x 100 watt poly panels which out of interest I would like to put on a single or dual axis tracker.

Ive done the maths on trackers and IMHO they for my location Sunny Spain are not cost effective ! Why....., well to track 12 sq meters approx of 1.6 kw was going to cost me over 3000 pounds in UK or Spain importing a commercial manufactured solar tracker mount and eletronics. This would give a yearly 30/40 % boost with a tracker I spent 2000 pounds on an extra 800 watts and this will give me a 50% boost without any complications.

Please dont argue with my costings because I dont live in USA and remember a C60 charge controller at $300 is the norm in europe but accept my ratios are correct. But I will accept critisism from a manufacturer who can prove me wrong and ship cost effectively to europe !

So I would like to track my 800 watt panels just because I can for interest and then can be more accurate about its effectivness. I m a hands on guy I can fabricate and weld and have been showing interest in the analogue guy who advertises in Home Power Magazine. http://www.theanalogguy.com There is also a guy from Austraila who seems to advertise a cost effective system on ebay but his feedback is a little shoddy. What I would like is a discussion on

1.Track or not to track ?
2. Analogue Guy whos used his gear (I dont doubt his products at all) and how they implimented it, ie satalite dish conversions and more about homebrew mechanical examples would be benifical !
3. Simple homemade systems or ideas ?
4. Commercial Units that can be cost effective, I would love to be proved wrong

Thanks Nigel Great forum!

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    you are correct, even for most of us in the u.s.a., that they are not cost effective and things do go wrong with trackers(so i've heard). if you have to do a move it could be a simple manually moved system. the best positions would depend on how many moves a day you'd make and the time of season as well as the time of day.(winter may not need more than 2 moves and 1 position during that season may work well enough while summer covers a broader amount of the sky and time) do you have an older c band parabolic sat antenna mount, as with a bit of ingenuity may create a working affordable means of moving your pvs? how's that for a hands on idea for you?
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Trackers used to make a lot of sense when solar was $10-12 a watt, but now only in special circumstances, like water pumping where you need to pump for more of the day.
  • sawmillsawmill Solar Expert Posts: 93 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    If you are handy with fabrication and welding I highly recommend building your own tracker. With my 2kw system split into 3 pole mount units I have been impressed with the increased output as opposed to my original fixed mount.

    Keep in mind that with pole mounted units and any failure with your tracking device while learning, you still have a fixed mount. I have used a ($38 US) tracker from www.redrok.com for two years with no problems.

    When changing from fixed mounts to pole units and before the electronic trackers were installed I would turn my units manually 2 or 3 times per day. You will be amazed at how much increased output you will get. I agree that the commerical units are too expensive to justify their use.
  • backroadbackroad Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    OK....How does a person get on redrok.com's website. All I can get is access forbidden.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,741 admin
    Re: Solar Trackers

    You can use Google Cache to look at information from a few days ago... Perhaps you can contact them from the information provided.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers
    backroad wrote: »
    OK....How does a person get on redrok.com's website. All I can get is access forbidden.

    Their website server permissions are broken, or they forgot to pay the rent on the server or the domain name.
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Thanks for all the replies I didnt realise that you all tend to agree that commercial units are just too exspensive. Why ? There isnt a massive amount materials used and if rdrock and the analogue guy can produce the electronics for around or under a $100 why are trackers so dear. Pictures of your homemade units Sawmill or anyones homemade units would be great, keep the replies coming.;)
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers
    "...why are trackers so dear (expensive)"?
    I think it's because many of us think of "trackers" as the complete electro-mechanical system required to safely support and move a PV array in a wide range of environmental conditions. In addition to the electronics, that would include the module support frame, the swivel assembly {including motor and shock absorber (damper)}, the mounting pole, the foundation, and control wiring.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers
    nigtomdaw wrote: »
    There isnt a massive amount materials used and if rdrock and the analogue guy can produce the electronics for around or under a $100 why are trackers so dear.

    The little control board is the least of the expense. You have servo motors, possibly feedback, and it has to work in the summer heat, and in a winter storm, and how does it break loose of ice overnight ?
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • rplarryrplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Nigel
    I also built a tracker using redrock.com solar tracking electronics and I could not be happier. Basically as sawmill said it is $38 dollars, and that includes shipping in the US. What Duane at redrock shows is how to use an old satelite dish mount and servos. Mount your panels to where the dish was on the head and his electronics control the servos to keep the panels pointed at the sun. I live most of the time in Baja Mex and there are alot of abandoned old large satelite TV dishes that people are willing to give away. I acquired one and converted it to mount my panels on and wired in the electronics module from redrock. It has worked for me for the last 6 months flawlessly. Its a really fun project. I think it cost me about $75 all told to build the tracker from scrap metal I had around the house. I'll look around and see if I can find Duanes' phone number, he lives in Minnesota.
    Larry
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Larry thanks for that, I think Ive visited Redrocks site a while ago, does he use the three led design and shows quite a few examples , especially on different types of lens, as well as trackers that people use. I havent visited him for a while, and he hasnt appeared on any Yahoo search,s.
  • rplarryrplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Nigel
    So far this is all I could find, [email protected] is the e-mail and his name is Duane. I'll keep looking for a telephone # or an address.
    Larry
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    I found a european supplier today for electronic tracker units reasonable price european wise, worth a quick look ?
    http://www.fusionseeker.com/
  • rplarryrplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Nigel
    I just talked to Duane, his web site should be back up in a day or two, but if you want to call him his # is 651-426-4766. He says he sells all over the world so he won't have a problem getting to you in Spain. He had to raise the price to $39 because shipping costs went up.
    I looked at the trackers you found and they are nice, but a little pricey.
    Good luck
    Larry
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Thanks Larry I did email him from another bullitin board where we are both members , letting him know about his website and this thread, the euro units are pricey for NA but he did say will discount for DIY people, but I doubt he can compete with rodrok especially when Ive had 2 replies from satisfied users on this thread, Ill wait until his site us up again and have another look.
    Thanks again. Still would like some photos of homemade trackers especially the head unit

    Great Forum !
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    www.redrok.com is now up and running
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Hi Larry, Ijust ordered 2 electronic tracker units from Duane at www.redok.com he was very helpful and answered all my questions. Im going to experiment with the first one on my solar cooker when it arrives to make the learning curve a little easier. Thanks for your help if youve some pictures of your unit that would be great I can pm you with my email address, Thanks again for everyone contributions Nigel;)
  • rplarryrplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Nigel
    I'm not in Baja right now (tooooo hottttt!!!!) but I'm going down there in 3 weeks to go camping and fishing on the west coast so I'll stop at my place and take some pictures. My array is large, about 4 meters x 3 1/2 meters (13' x 11') and very heavy. I have just bought replacement panels which will make my array much smaller (3 meters x 3 meters)and lighter. That will be my next project when I go down in October to stay for 9 months. I won't be back from camping till early Sept. but I will send you some pics of the mechanism then. I built it as a 2 axis with the east-west axis controlled by the auto tracker and the inclination axis controlled manually with a toggle switch. Lots of fun.
    Larry
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Thanks look forward to them 8)
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    Hi Larry Ive now got a couple of redroks units what a helpful guy Duane is, did you manage to take any photos, how was the fishing ?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Solar Trackers

    I used an old satellite dish mount (which you can get for almost free by asking homeowners who have them already and are using the small direct-TV dishes now) with the PV panels bolted onto the mount's 2 foot diameter ring. I could move them with the dish mover several times a day, but a better way would be to place a smaller 24volt panel on the array with a shading device so that when the sun moves past the optimum angle, it automatically generates voltage to the dish-moving motor (usually 36volt) and self corrects the angle to the west. Then every night, you would have to move the dish back to the far east for the next day. We live in southern Mexico.
  • TelcoTelco Solar Expert Posts: 201 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Trackers

    I have a related question. How well do the passive trackers work? It looks like they work by using the sun to heat a gas that causes a difference in weight on one side of the panel vs the other.

    Here are a couple of examples, just for reference, not recommending since I don't know nearly enough yet to be providing technical assistance with solar. Thanks.

    http://www.e-marine-inc.com/products/mounts/tracker.html
    http://www.scsolar.com/Zomeworks_Trackers.html
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Solar Trackers

    you might want to check out a new company called NPG Energy Solutions with their new trackers. They seem to be much better than what else is out there and much less expensive depending on what you are looking for
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