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Updated at 20/04/2014 06:43
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DIY 2-axis Solar Tracker Build

This website will detail my journey to creating a Sun Tracking Solar Panel Array aka Heliostat


I have decided to create this diary so that I can look back over the weeks/months/years and remind myself of the exciting days of creating my PV array.
Hopefully some of you reading this will learn a lot from what I've done and may be inclined to have a go yourself.
There are many options available when it comes to creating energy using solar.
  • Solar Panels mounted on a roof, shed, garage, whatever other large surface you might have lying around
  • Solar Water Heater
  • Solar Panels that track the sun on a single axis - usually as the Sun goes from East to West
  • Solar Panels that track the sun on a dual axis - as the Sun goes from East to West and Altitude of the Sun in the sky
Advantages/Disadvantages of each -
  • Solar Panels mounted on a roof are usually very expensive to install, requiring a specialist firm to come and install. And if any future issues arise, you'll need to get that specialist firm back out to come sort (at your expense)
  • Solar Water Heater - Not a bad idea, but I'm not a plumber and messing around with water scares me ever so slightly...plus the missus would kill me if the hot water ever went off!
  • Solar Panels that track the sun on a single axis - big increase in electricity generated when compared to static panels. More expensive and difficult to install, due to having to build the Sun Tracker, but then the improved efficiency means you don't have to buy as many solar panels
  • Solar Panels that track the sun on a dual axis - even more of an increase in electricity generated when compared to single axis tracker. More expensive and difficult to install, due to having to build the Sun Tracker, but then the improved efficiency means you don't have to buy as many solar panels
Even though building a dual axis tracker is the most difficult to build, I've decided it's the way to go.
  • Most efficient
  • Don't have to buy as many solar panels
  • Would look mega cool in the garden as it tracks the Sun - major talking point with my mates!

As you can see, a Tracked PV panel creates significantly more power in a given 24 hour period. Some estimates have placed this increase between 30%-50%

Static Panel versus Tracked




I believe the extra hassle of creating a Solar Tracking array is worth it when you consider just how much extra power you can create in a year. Providing you are clever with sourcing components, I reckon a Tracking Array could pay for itself in a year, maybe two.

A little about me

My name is Gavin. I'm 35 years old. I live in Nottingham, UK.
I've been interested in renewable energy for years, probably about 10 years. The idea of being green and doing my bit for the environment (as well as saving money!) is very attractive to me.

I'm no expert DIY'er and I am undertaking this project with no prior experience. But I do have a decent selection of tools and a general aptitude for this kind of construction.


See the Prototype

Comments

Kolapo K - 02/02/2014 18:24:19
Hello, I am studying BSc Mechanical Engineering and I am working on building a solar tracker for my final year which is due in march. So I haven't really got that much left. Therefore I would appreciate if you could guide me to creating my prototype. I've got access to some materials in my university at Kingston, so I need steps to the components required to move the design. Thanks for the help provided on your website, your heaven sent.

Bhavik - 24/01/2014 20:19:06
Hello, I am studying Mechanical Engineering at Rutgers University in USA and I was wondering if you could email me details regarding how you built the dual-axis sun tracker. This is just one component of my project and I have been having difficulties understanding it. Please email me with any information you may have and I will get back with follow up questions if I need to. Thank you.

ajit - 28/11/2013 02:21:15
Can some tell me procedure to calculate the sun elevation angle other than NREL and work on platform like arduino

Cody Wagner - 16/10/2013 00:08:47
If possible could you post your current Arduino code for the solar tracker. Thanks.

ADMIN
- 28/07/2013 07:43:37
Hi Andre. I couldnnt supply a ready made tracker, but there are lots of manufacturers making them. The costs are quite high though. Hence why I went down the DIY route.

Andre - 26/07/2013 10:08:26
I just checked this project, is there anyway I get this already done? I live in Brazil I would like to use it in my home for studing.

ADMIN
- 13/03/2013 09:53:48
Suresh - I'm not sure I'm up to the job of creating and selling a two-axis tracker. I'm just a simple hobbyist! My suggestion would be to keep checking my website. I'm hoping to provide some pretty good instruction on how I built mine..and hopefully you can use to help build yours :o)

suresh mirchandani - 12/03/2013 20:38:20
I am looking at designing a Floating PV System and need to design a 2 axis tracker. You seem to have a good knowledge of the design. Would you like to make the first prototype for a fee? Suresh Mirchandani suresh.singlewatts@gmail.com

ADMIN - 01/02/2013 15:59:29
Clive - An interesting idea. What with having a day job, I'm reluctant to venture down this route. Also - the payments for FiT have dropped, resulting in solar not being quite as attractive (and lucrative) as it once was.

Clive Durdle - 31/01/2013 18:28:42
Is not the solution here to set up a co-op that is properly accredited, will certify DIY work, shares FIT income properly....? Clivedurdle@mac.com

Sean G - 30/01/2013 19:28:50
I am currently working on a project that needs this kind of system for larger motors. I am unable to construct this myself, and am looking to buy a prefab system. If you are interested in constructing this for me, please contact me

ADub - 31/12/2012 23:55:51
I think a Heliostat is a mirror ;) nice little project though. If you want help with H-Bridges and motor drive... Shout - I've applied for hi res ;)

rich r - 25/05/2012 14:51:22
I look forward to see how this pans out

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