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 Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Tracking Systems 
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Post Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Tracking Systems
by: Kriss Bergethon

Solar tracking systems are used to continually orient photovoltaic panels towards the sun and can help maximize your investment in your PV system. They are beneficial as the sun's position in the sky will change gradually over the course of a day and over the seasons throughout the year. Advantages to using a tracker system like this will depend mainly on it's placement in determining how well it will increase the effectiveness of the panels. They can be used most effectively in areas with low horizons and locations that are shade free from dawn to dusk each day. Throughout the year the tracking array will be able to utilize the wide open access to gain every available electron from the sun. This way, energy production is at an optimum and energy output is increased year round. This is especially significant through out the summer months with its long days of sunlight available to capture and when, at many Northern latitudes, the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest, no energy will be lost. For those with limited space this means that a smaller array only needs to be installed, a huge advantage for those smaller sites with only a small area to place equipment; they will be able to produce maximum energy output but only need to utilize one of the smaller solar home systems.

Solar tracking systems do not come without their disadvantages though. The stand alone PV home kit system is a very reliable and uncomplicated source of energy production; the panels don't move and require little maintenance. By adding a solar tracking system to your solar panels, you are adding moving parts and gears which will require regular maintenance of your solar system and repair or replacement of broken parts. If you're electronically controlled tracker stops working and you don't have a manual control, an option you can choose at the time of purchase, you can manually position your array to solar south to ensure that you will continue to capture as much solar energy as possible. Secure the array into place with ropes or straps found on the four corners of the rack and tie onto the pole or in the concrete pad.

Another possible disadvantage to be aware of when purchasing a tracking solar power system, is in the way your local utility's PV Rebate Program may be set up. Many are based on the size of the PV array in your home kit and not on your PV array's production, which could mean less of a financial benefit to you. If you have a small array, such as a 3 Watt capacity, you may get less overall cost benefit than someone else with a larger array of a 4-5 Watt size capacity, even if your energy production works out higher than the person using a bigger array, due to increased sun exposure in your area. The upfront cost of purchasing a home kit with a smaller size array is less but you may receive a smaller rebate check. Many areas though, are now starting to make the move from the rated wattage system of photovoltaic home systems to the energy production based incentive program; check with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for more details. You can find more incentive program details online at

About The Author
Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert from Colorado.

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Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:29 am
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