By Jeff Pipeling
GPS coordinated, sun following, snow shedding, energy producing, robot. Sounds sci-fi and futuristic? In actuality, these machines are all over the US producing massive amounts of power in small spaces.
Solar trackers have the ability to increase solar production over a fixed installation by up to 40%. By following the sun, these pole mounted solar arrays are GPS (Global Position System) coordinated to follow the sun as it rises in the morning and sets in the evening. They even tilt automatically to account for the winter or summer optimum sun angles. Always being at the optimum angle for the sun to produce the most amount of solar energy per panel at any given time, these solar trackers produce more power per square foot. This allows for smaller footprints with more power over traditional fixed roof or bleacher style ground mounts.
Trackers are automatic and move by themselves. They have an anemometer, or wind meter, mounted on the top of the array that monitors wind speed and automatically lock flat in table top mode if winds are strong enough. They can also be upgraded remotely. When a new feature comes out, the manufacturer can update all trackers already installed, so a tracker owner gets all the benefits of newer software anytime it is upgraded.
A couple of years ago, a homeowner called me in a panic. He said his tracker was shaking and there must be something wrong with it. I contacted the manufacturer immediately, and requested they send a tech to look at the system. Once I described the symptoms of this shaking tracker, they informed me of the new “snow code” that was just downloaded to all existing trackers. This call happened in the winter time, and what the tracker was doing was automatically shaking off the snow so the homeowner didn’t need to remove it or lose production.
If you have a shaded building and the existing roof cannot get enough sun or your property isn’t facing the ideal direction for solar to be viable, an alternative to not going solar at all is a ground mount. However many properties just aren’t large enough for the space required to cover the electrical needs, or the property owners don’t want to lose all of their green space if they have a small lot. Installing a tracker minimizes the footprint while maximizing power with the added benefit of having a really cool technologically, advanced GPS coordinated, sun following, snow shedding, energy producing, robot!
Jeff Pipeling is the General Sales Manager at C-TEC Solar. Working one-on-one with thousands of homeowners in the solar industry, for more than 6 years, has given Jeff broad knowledge and technical understanding of the industry.