Does Your DIY Rooftop Solar Array Need a Sun Tracker System? Posted on 15 Mar 07:00
Designing your DIY rooftop solar array requires careful consideration of several factors, including your household energy needs, the photovoltaic potential of your property and of course, your budget.
Much of your system design focus will be dedicated to the photovoltaic panels and inverters themselves, as these are the components responsible for capturing the sun’s energy and converting it into usable electricity for your home.
However, your choice of mounting system is equally important. Should you install your PV solar array on a fixed-tilt rack, angled to face the fun? Or should you mount your rooftop photovoltaic panels on a sun tracker system instead?
Sun Tracker Options for DIY Rooftop Solar
Fixed-tilt racks, as the name suggests, hold rooftop photovoltaic panels at a specific angle. Tracking systems, on the other hand, allow the PV panels to move and follow the path of the sun from sunrise to sunset.
Single-axis trackers follow the sun from east to west, which keeps the DIY photovoltaic panels in line with the sunshine all day long. Dual-axis tracking systems offer an even greater capacity for harnessing sunlight, thanks to a second pivot point.
Sun tracker systems can be passive, using solar heat and gravity to shift the photovoltaic panel angle. Or you can choose an active tracking system that uses a motor or actuator drive controlled by software or sensors.
Why Aren’t Sun Trackers More Common for DIY Rooftop Solar?
Greentech Media, a solar industry research organization, reports that sun tracking systems can boost photovoltaic energy output by 20 to 40 percent. Despite these impressive statistics, most homeowners who install their own rooftop solar arrays choose fixed-tilt racks instead for two reasons — cost and complexity.
Sun trackers can be significantly more expensive than fixed-tilt mounting systems. And if the motorized components fail, repairs or replacement can be costly.
Perhaps more important, however, is the fact that installing a sun tracking system is complicated. For even the handiest homeowners, the process can be too difficult to handle without professional assistance.
Why Most Rooftop Solar Arrays Don’t Need Sun Trackers
Fortunately, your rooftop solar array probably doesn’t need a sun tracking system to produce plenty of energy for your home. In fact, most professionally installed rooftop arrays aren’t equipped with trackers.
The price of photovoltaic panels has dramatically fallen over the last several years. Today, installing a larger system on fixed-tilt racks is less expensive than installing a smaller array with a sun tracker. Either option can effectively produce enough solar electricity for home power, so why spend more money than you need to?
The only way you may benefit from a tracker system is if you lack the space for an adequately-sized DIY rooftop solar array, or if your roof’s orientation is exceptionally bad.
To learn more about choosing the right photovoltaic components for your project, visit Solar GOODs today. As your online superstore for energy independence, we have everything you need to design and install your affordable DIY rooftop solar array.