Energy & Sustainability Technology
DIY sun tracker for solar panels

You’ve probably seen a number of light-following robotics projects. Making a light detector is one of the first projects a new Arduino maker embarks on. What better way to use a light detector than to aim a solar panel at the sun? Instructables user bwitmer shows us how.

For a class project (PV Design, Appalachian State, Dr. Dennis Scanlin) I decided to try making a low cost PV (photovoltaic) tracker. Being able to follow the sun’s path through the sky can raise your solar panel system’s output considerably (30-50%), but the argon filled ones can be a bit pricey, and seem to be a bit unsteady in wind. I looked at several different designs, looked at what materials I could find, and this is how I did it.

He’s using an inexpensive purchased LED tracking unit, but if you’re comfortable making your own, that part should be fairly straightforward. What’s cool is the simple design of the hardware. The project uses a couple of bike wheels and a linear actuator to enable the movement of the panel. It looks to be relatively low-maintenance, and the bike wheels are easy to come by and should support quite a bit of weight.

Solar PV tracker

14 thoughts on “DIY sun tracker for solar panels

  1. OK, now that I read the instructable, I see that it’s a single-axis tracker, moving left to right. There are adjustable feet at the front for seasonal adjustment of the other axis. Nice job.

  2. I’ve had an idea for a while and maybe someone would like to try it out if it hasn’t already been tried. How about using 4 magnifying lenses pointing in 4 different angles(up, down, left, right) and 4 detectors. Calibrate the whole thing so that you are getting optimal output from the panels when the 4 lenses have an equal amount of light. Once calibrated, a low light level on the “up” will mean you need to move the panel down to give it more light, etc. That’s the basic idea. The lenses are used because they will concentrate the light into a much smaller area and allow for a larger range of light intensity which will translate to better granularity in adjustment.

Comments are closed.