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 How Solar Tracking Systems Work 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post How Solar Tracking Systems Work
by: Kriss Bergethon

Solar power systems are an investment both financially and environmentally. A PV system will save money on electricity and ensure a greener future. The one drawback with solar is that most system are fixed whereas the sun is continually changing positions in the sky. However, with the use of solar tracking systems this loss of energy can be largely mitigated.

But what are solar tracking systems? Put simply, these systems when applied to photovoltaic power kits track the sun, and cause the panels to rotate to receive sunlight for as long a possible. This increases your power output by as far as 30 to 50%, though the amount can be significantly less than that depending on the photovoltaic tracking system you use and your location. Of course this energy generated does not take into account the amount of power the tracking system itself uses, but it's minuscule compared to the additional power you'll be gathering from your sun-powered home kit. There are also power-less systems that use gas-filled tubes to move the trackers.

Despite all the benefits in utilizing a tracking system with your sun-powered panels, there are some considerations that must be taken into account. While the amount of additional energy generated during the summer is immense, when it comes to winter, when the sun moves less broadly and the most electricity is utilized in the home, it is little better than a fixed sun-powered system. It should be noted though that if you store or sell the additional electricity generated in summer, you should have enough addition electricity or funds to either have additional electricity in winter regardless or purchase additional power from a third party. What's more, though photovoltaic kits with tracking systems do generate more power, they are also more complex and run the risk of breaking down, as does any moving machinery. If you don't believe that the additional power gathered is worth the maintenance or cost of someone else maintaining it, then perhaps a PV system with tracking isn't for you.

That said, the power generated by such a tracking system in comparison to a standard PV system is usually more than enough to off set those few complications, the possibilities of utilizing such power opening up all sorts of possibilities. Storing and selling power has already been covered, but if that's of little interest to you you're more than welcome to simply go with a smaller array, as the extra power gathered should cover the amount lost from less panels. This means that tracking systems can make putting a PV kit in a limited space a viable possibility, good news for anyone who doesn't have a lot of land. What's more, even if you only install solar power to power a single device, a tracking system will greatly increase the length of which that device can perform. For instance, if you hook your tracking free solar panels up to a water pump, it would only run when the sun is close to being directly overhead the panels. With photovoltaic systems that do have tracking, the water pump could run from sun up to sun down.

A PV home kit with a tracking system, while more complex, can gather power for a far longer time than one without. Whether this is worth the additional maintenance and cost is up to the individual user.

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

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Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:30 am
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