Solar trackers are the ultimate solution to make the most of daylight. Solar energy and electricity production heavily depends on the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels. Additionally, the angle at which the sun rays fall on the panel affects electricity production too!

A solar system produces the most amount of electricity when the sun rays fall perpendicularly on it. Fixed solar panels only get a small window during the day where the sun rays are exactly perpendicular to the solar panel. However, with sun-tracking, this small window can be busted wide open.

Sun tracking is one way to adjust the angle of the panels concerning the sun’s position during the day. Solar tracking or axis tracking allows panels to face the sun by tilting their axis. It enhances electricity generation and is popular in commercial settings.

This revolutionary tech, however, does not come cheap. You need to know that panels with solar trackers cost significantly more than fixed solar panels. Please continue reading to learn more about their cost and the benefits of installing solar trackers in your panel set-ups.

What are Solar Trackers?

Solar trackers are devices used to maximise the intake of the sun rays by solar panels. Solar panels need to be at the perfect angle with the sun to absorb the most sunlight and convert it to a usable form of energy. However, maintaining this angle is not easy when it comes to stationary solar panels.

Roof Solar PanelsInstalling a tracking system in your solar panels enables them to move according to the sun’s movement. It allows them to maintain the angle of incidence at exactly 90 degrees between the panels and the sun’s rays. The angle between the two determines the total productivity of the solar panel system, and the energy production efficiency is maximum when the panel is oriented at a right angle to the sun.

They have excellent large scale commercial installations. They significantly increase the amount of electricity generated by solar panel systems. You can find these solar panels in industrial/commercial settings like solar trees instead of residential solar panel systems.

Types of Solar Trackers

There are many different types of the solar tracking system. The difference between these systems is the way they move and the direction of their orientation. Each type of panel has a different cost and come with varying maintenance costs too.

Here are the three different types of solar tracking systems commonly found in solar panel installations.

Manual Solar Trackers

Manual trackers are rather primitive as they need to be physically adjusted per the position of the sun. That means someone has to keep an eye on the sun’s position and then manually adjust the angle of the solar panels, so they are perpendicular to the sun’s rays.

Active Solar Trackers

An active solar tracker is one of the most convenient types of solar tracking systems you can install. The solar trackers use hydraulic movement or cylinders to change the angle of the solar panels. Their cost is a little higher than a manual solar panel and depends on the quantity required for installation.

Passive Solar Trackers

Passive solar trackers use liquids with low boiling points to tilt their axis. During the day, This liquid evaporates and creates an imbalance in the central axis of the solar panel. The imbalance further enables the solar panels to tilt their axis and position their surface in line with the sunrays.

Solar Panels on RoofThe types of solar panels mentioned above are categorised based on their mechanism and inner workings. However, solar tracking systems can further be divided into two more categories. These categories were created based on the axis tracking system and the direction to which they will tilt.

Here are the two types of solar tracking systems based on the tilt of their axis.

Single-Axis Solar Tracker

A single-axis solar tracker system can tilt the solar panels from east to west during the day. It will allow them to follow the sun throughout the day and help increase productivity by 25 to 30%. They are known as single-axis solar trackers because they can only move along one axis, i.e. from east to west.

Dual-Axis Solar Tracker

Large scale commercial set-ups use Dual-axis solar tracker systems because these trackers allow panels to move along two axes. That means the solar panels can move from north to south and east to west as well as the sun moves across the sky. This dual-axis solar panel tracking system helps increase energy production throughout the year irrespective of the earth’s position with respect to the sun due to the north and south axis.

How much does it Cost to Install Solar Trackers?

Solar trackers can be installed in solar panel systems and can be incorporated into projects based on requirements. Solar tracking systems can be installed in solar panels, but this installation will significantly increase your investment.

If you wish to add solar trackers to a solar panel system set-up, it will cost extra for their installation. Depending on the model you pick and the number of solar panels you have installed, a tracking system will cost you anywhere between £800 to £4000. A single-axis tracker generally costs about 35% of the total cost of your solar panels.

Additionally, a solar tracking system also has maintenance costs and installation costs and tracker costs that you need to consider. If you do not have much room in your budget after installing a solar panel system, you might want to reconsider solar tracking system installation.

If you choose to install a dual-axis solar panel tracking system, then the cost of installation will be more.

Manual solar tracking systems are certainly more cost-effective than active solar trackers. However, it makes more sense to install trackers that automatically tilt their position throughout the day. This way, you can use solar energy without worrying about changing the panel’s position all through the day.

Here is the estimated costs of a typical solar PV system ranging from a 1 kilowatt-peak (kWp) to a 4kWp system on a single-axis tracker.

System SizeCost of tracker
1kWp£850
2kWp£1,701
3kWp£2,552
4kWp£3,403

What are The Pros and Cons of Solar Trackers?

There are many benefits of getting solar trackers for your panels. However, while there are definite pros, the set-up also comes with a few cons. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of solar trackers.

Pros

  • A solar tracker enables you to generate more energy than a stationary or fixed array because it moves with the sun.
  • A wide range of solar trackers is available, so you can find the right fit and make the most of the solar radiation you receive.
  • A solar tracking system help with electricity generation during peak hours.
  • You will not have to take energy supply from the grid as you will produce more energy for longer periods during the day.
  • Dual-axis trackers help produce more energy throughout the year with the help of their north and south axis.
  • Axis trackers increase energy production by 30% even in regions with scanty sunlight.

Cons

  • They are not very cost-effective. The cost of installing solar trackers can be double the price of a fixed array solar panel set-up.
  • A solar tracker system has high maintenance costs as it has moving parts and requires regular maintenance checks and repairs.
  • A solar tracker system requires additional wiring installation and a lot more space than an array of ground-mounted panels.

Is it Worth Investing in a Solar Tracking System?

Solar Panel Close UpWhile solar trackers and a solar tracking system do seem a lucrative option for large solar panel set-ups, chances are you are likely to save more on the cost if you choose to opt-out of this option. That is because the cost of solar panels has gone down over the last few years, and getting more panels is cheaper than installing a solar tracking system in the ones you already have.

Solar panels will give you a better return on your investments in a shorter-term when compared to a tracking system. For instance, a 3.5kWp solar panel set up (which costs around £6,500) on a single-axis tracker, it would cost you around £2,980.

If you get a single-axis tracking system, it will end up costing you between £800 to £4,000.

Tracking systems are an excellent option for a solar panel system that is short on space and needs to maximise sun-tracking due to its fixed solar position.

To Conclude With

Tracking systems are an excellent way to maximise the solar energy converted into electricity. Both dual-axis and single-axis solar tracking systems can generate a larger amount of electricity than fixed solar systems. However, the only downside of this kind of set-up is the cost, so if you have no trouble doubling up your budget for a panel set-up, this is an excellent option for you.