While most power outages last only a few hours, going without power for days or weeks can be a real challenge. Installing a solar panel helps keep your home powered, allowing you the luxury of playing your favorite online casino game like iron man Spiele kostenlos even when the grid is down.
Unlike solar panels for homes, commercial panels provide an efficient energy solution for businesses and corporations. Solar panels for commercial projects can be installed either on the ground or the rooftop of the commercial buildings. However, to ensure optimum orientation and tilt angle of your panels, you need to choose the right mounting system. This, in turn, helps ensure maximum solar output and improved efficiency.
Now, should you choose a fixed racking or tracking system for your commercial project? While a tracker guarantees increased electricity production, installation and maintenance cost more than a fixed racking system.
In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about fixed racking and tracking systems to help you choose the right option for your commercial project.
Detailed Comparison of Fixed Racking and Tracker for Commercial Solar Projects
What Are Solar Trackers?
Solar trackers are mounting systems designed to maximize the power production of your solar module by tracking the sun’s position. Trackers are usually used for free-standing solar installations and ground-mounted solar panels in commercial and utility-scale projects. They are not suitable for rooftop installation because they require plenty of space around them to rotate without any obstructions.
They ensure the best orientation of the panels for maximum sunlight exposure at any given time. Orienting the panels perpendicular to the sun’s rays helps them absorb more solar radiation and generate more electricity for a more extended period. Tracking the sun’s movement throughout the day also helps accommodate seasonal changes in the sun’s direction.
Tracking systems typically increase the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels by up to 25 to 30 percent than fixed racking systems. However, while trackers help increase solar output, they usually come with a high price tag.
Types of Solar Tracking Systems
Commercial tracking systems are categorized into two different types based on their directional flexibility. The two types of trackers include single-axis and dual-axis.
- Single-Axis Solar Trackers
Single-axis trackers are designed to rotate about a single axis, tracking the sun as it moves from east to west during the day. This helps increase your panel’s solar energy collection by up to 25 percent than using a fixed racking system.
They are ideal for commercial projects that demand maximum output in a limited amount of space. There are two types of single-axis trackers, namely centralized and decentralized trackers. Centralized types use a single motor to move an entire solar array between rows, while decentralized trackers utilize one motor for each tracking row.
- Dual-Axis Solar Trackers
Dual-axis trackers track the sun’s position during the day by moving your solar array in either east to west or north to south direction. They are more effective than single-axis types since they allow tracking of the sun even with the seasonal changes in positions.
These trackers can increase the solar energy collection of your panels by nearly 38 percent. Dual-axis trackers help boost your panel’s energy production by up to 45 percent compared to fixed racking systems. They are ideal for commercial projects where rooftop space is limited, and energy requirements are high.
Types of Solar Tracking Devices
Besides single-axis and dual-axis trackers, tracking systems are available in three different types, based on their functionality. These include:
- Manual Trackers
These solar trackers require manual adjusting of the panels throughout the day to face the sun. This tracking system is not convenient and effective, since you must constantly monitor the sun’s movement and adjust the panels accordingly for maximum exposure. This makes manual trackers not prevalent in the consumer solar market.
- Passive Tracking Systems
These types of solar trackers use solar radiation to tilt the panels in the direction of the sun. Passive tracking devices typically contain a low-boiling liquid that vaporizes when exposed to sunlight. Once the liquid evaporates, it expands, causing a mechanical movement of your solar panels to the sun’s direction.
While passive solar tracking systems are cheaper, can improve your panels’ efficiency, and don’t involve manual operation, they are not widely used in the solar industry.
- Active Trackers
Active solar trackers are inarguably the most popular and widely used tracking systems out there. These solar tracking equipment come designed with hydraulic cylinders or motors that automatically adjust the panels to face the sun’s direction. This makes active tracking systems more convenient, less tedious, and more efficient than other tracking systems.
However, these types require more maintenance due to the moving parts within the motors. Active solar trackers are ideal for large, commercial installations, given their high accuracy and efficiency.
When to Consider Solar Trackers
- Limited Space
If you have limited space for installation, mounting solar trackers can help reduce the number of solar panels you need. These devices will maximize solar energy collection during sun-peak hours, generating enough solar system electricity to power your business operations or commercial building.
Trackers can be ideal, especially for large-utility and commercial projects requiring maximum solar output in a limited amount of space. This makes using a tracking system the best way to meet your energy demands when you don’t have room for additional panels.
- High Energy Requirements
Tracking systems make an excellent choice if you have a large commercial project with high energy needs, usually more than 1 megawatt. Tracking systems will increase solar electricity production for your commercial building or business.
For instance, installing a single-axis tracker can increase your PV panel’s efficiency by up to 30 percent, while a dual-axis tracker boosts the performance by up to 10 percent. While maintenance and upfront costs are higher than for a fixed racking system, increased electricity production over time makes installing a tracker a worthwhile investment.
Also, trackers could make a more viable option for commercial projects since most large-scale projects require ground mount panels.
Also, you may want to consider solar trackers if you live in high latitude areas where the sun’s position varies dramatically between the winter and summer months. For instance, installing a dual-axis tracker could help orient your panels in the sun’s direction at all times, even with the seasonal changes in position.
This way, your panels can collect more solar energy, allowing you to maximize your system’s electricity production despite the climatic conditions or changes in the sun’s position in your area.
- Shading or Obstructions
If there are trees and other obstructive objects within your premises that you don’t want to remove, installing solar trackers could help increase the efficiency of your solar panels. Solar trackers will help avoid shading by ensuring your PV panels face away from the object’s shadow.
Also, since commercial trackers are mostly mounted on the ground, you don’t have to worry about the durability of roofing materials. It also saves you the additional expense of uninstalling and replacing the panels when you want to do roof repairs.
Unlike tracking systems, fixed racking systems stay fixed in position and don’t track the sun’s movement across the sky during the day. The amount of power generated by a fixed racking system depends on your solar setup, that is, the orientation of your panels relative to the sun.
Professional installers recommend facing the fixed racking system towards the southern direction at an angle equal to your location’s latitude. This means you need to choose a single tilt angle and orientation that maximizes sunlight exposure for optimum solar cell output.
Fixed racking systems tend to be less efficient than trackers, given that solar PV panels harness solar energy more efficiently when perpendicular to the sun. They usually have fewer moving parts, making them less costly and easy to maintain.
Fixed solar systems consist of either dual-post or single-post designs. They are primarily used for residential solar systems and even large-utility or commercial projects. A fixed racking system can be a cost-effective option for your large-scale project due to reduced installation and maintenance costs.
When to Consider Fixed Racking Systems
One of the main benefits of installing fixed racks is that they’re available at a fraction of the price of trackers. The price difference can save you tons of money in upfront costs for a large commercial project. Also, the simplicity of fixed racking systems reduces installation and maintenance costs dramatically.
On the contrary, installing a single solar tracker to your solar module tends to be more complex, requires more equipment, and can be costly. The complexity of sun trackers makes installations more challenging and requires more maintenance, which increases the costs significantly in the long run.
Also, now that solar panels are more affordable, adding more panels to increase power output instead of investing in sun trackers would be more cost-effective.
- Ease of Installation and Maintenance
The simple and modular design of fixed mounting systems makes installation work easy and, therefore, less costly. This also means your installers will need fewer tools and take less time during installation, reducing their exposure to the risk of accidents.
Fixed racks also don’t require regular maintenance or repairs. An annual inspection and maintenance is enough to ensure an optimal solar output with a fixed racking system. On the other hand, installing a tracking system is more complex than mounting a fixed rack. Trackers also require regular professional maintenance of the motorized parts to prevent them from breaking down.
- Harsh Environmental Conditions
If you’re looking to install your panels on an area with impenetrable soil, like a landfill, consider using fixed racking for mounting your PV panels. In such setups, your solar arrays can be mounted on ballasted concrete piers above-ground.
Fixed racking systems are usually incredibly durable, so they can withstand harsh weather conditions more easily than trackers. A tracking system makes an excellent option for areas with warmer climates and little to no snow.
Other Ways to Boost Your Solar Power Output
One great way to increase your panel’s power output is by using an MPPT solar controller, since it transfers up to 25 percent more power than a PMW controller. Routine cleaning and maintenance of your panels can also help ensure constant power output.
Solar reflectors can also help increase your panels’ electricity production. However, consider taking care when using reflectors since they can overheat your panels, reducing solar output. You may also consider ensuring your panels are always getting maximum sunlight exposure with no shading.
Conclusion: Should You Choose Fixed Racking or Solar Trackers for your Commercial Project?
As you’ve seen, each type of solar mount system has its advantages and disadvantages. Weighing the cons and pros of each mounting system can help you determine which option best suits your unique commercial solar project. While a fixed racking system provides a clear cost advantage, you’ll need more panels to meet your energy demands.
On the other hand, trackers will boost your system’s electricity production, but will cost more to install and maintain over their lifetime. This also means you need few solar panels to meet your solar power demands when using sun trackers. However, you should determine if the savings of getting fewer panels could make for the higher cost of a tracker in the long term.
Installing trackers can be a worthwhile investment, mainly if you have limited space for solar installation. Without enough room for additional panels, installing tracking systems would let you generate more electricity to meet your demand in the limited space. But, they may not be worth the extra investment for a residential solar energy system.
To ensure the best return on investment, you should consult a solar installer to help you calculate the number of panels you need with a tracking system and a fixed racking system. This can help you determine how much each mounting system would cost you and the number of units each adds to your solar system’s electricity.
So, does an increase in power output and improved convenience make solar trackers worth the additional investment? Or would it be more cost-effective to add more solar panels? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
Arthur Rowley is an avid writer specializing mostly in technology and marketing. Having spent years finessing his craft, he now can ensure you that Arthur has much acclaim for these areas and dedication to providing high-quality blogging content.