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Tracking the Sun for maximum energy input

FeaturedTracking the Sun for maximum energy input

Anyone with a solar panel and devices to measure live current and voltage knows that the orientation makes a difference. Or also studying plants, the most efficient solar receivers around! This has a reason: the angle of incidence. If you imagine a flat solar panel in horizontal, and an imaginary line perpendicular to it, the angle of incidence is set by the emitted sunlight, in reference to the imaginary line.path3785.png

Solar cells achieve better efficiency if they are perpendicular to the Sun. In fact, the climate has a strong relationship with the angle of incidence as the temperature is directly proportional to it. However, to make an accurate estimation of the angle isn't always straightforward, nor to control motors for automated tracking because every season has different angles of incidence, and the trajectory of the sun, each day, covers 180 degrees. The recommended settings for static panels are 45º for year round, 30º in summer and 60º in winter. That means that the Sun goes much higher in summer.

For example, with the flashlight of the image, if you point text3924.pngdirectly to a surface, perpendicular to it, the energy goes straight, so it illuminates more but less area. Just what anyone wants with solar panels! With the same flashlight, pointing in diagonal, it extends the energy through a larger area.

Static solar panels might be more than enough for everyday needs. Nevertheless, tracking mechanisms provide more energy output per unit of time, and that also means fewer square meters for the installation or a more convenient portable solar panel. As the problem is obviously cost, maybe a purely mechanical solution rather than electric motors and microcontrollers would produce more interest thanks to the lesser price.

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