Single-axis vs Dual-axis solar tracking system

Single-axis solar tracking system

In one axis solar trackers the panel’s axis of rotation is parallel to the earth’s axis. The panels start to rotate in the morning, when usable energy can be harvested, the rate of panel motion is constant until the end of the day when a limit switch is contacted and it instructs a motor to bring the panels back to their original position. The adjustment for the seasons is normally made with a manual crank.

Single axis tracking systems are elegantly simple and relatively more reliable. They offer a compelling compromise of higher energy production, low additional cost and trouble free operation tilts for the seasonal adjustment they have less demanding mechanicals requirements and their energy consumption is less than that used by a dual-axis solar tracking systems.

Dual axis solar tracking system

In a dual axis solar tracking system the apparent axis of motion is parallel to the earth’s axis. However, the mechanical movement of the panels is a composite of 2 movements – a vertical axis, and a horizontal axis.

A dual axis tracking system is typically used to orient a mirror, to redirect sunlight along a fixed axis towards a stationary target or receiver, however you can also gain extra yield on you PV cells.

Dual-Axis solar tracking systems always maintain the optimum alignment to the Sun but they are also more complicated to maintain and set up than a single-axis tracker.

The the advantage of two axis of movement over one axis is that the two axis design makes the array much more compact, the footprint is smaller, and panel cleaning is easier, with no manual adjustments required.

Long term tests show that dual-axis solar trackers improves the collection efficiency and increase the “harvested” energy shedding a higher production yield by each solar panel.

Which is the best solar tracking system?

You will need to evaluate each solar energy installation and decide which solar tracking system is the most cost effective according to your particular circumstances, there is no magic bullet that can recommend one system over the other, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, one size does not fit all.

How to adjust the solar panels manually to track the sun

As the earth moves through a yearly cycle (through the real solar system, that is), the angle of sunlight changes. To maximize your system output, you can track the sun as it changes position. You can purchase automatic solar trackers or you can track the sun yourself by adjusting your solar panels accordingly.

Here’s a rough guide as to how you might adjust the solar panels yourself to maximize their solar power output:

  • Early February: set your solar panel at the same angle as your latitude.
  • Early May: set your solar panels at your angle of latitude minus 15 degrees.
  • Early August: set your solar panel at the same angle as your latitude.
  • Early November: set your solar panel at your angle of latitude plus 15 degrees.

How do you find out your latitude?

Other than using a compassĀ or GPS to accurately triangulate your position, you can also visit FindYourLatitudeAndLongitude and use the map to find it out your latitude and longitude in a matter of seconds.