Solar trackers hold solar panels, tilting them towards the sun as the sun moves throughout the day or year. Because solar panels can generate the most electricity when they’re facing the sun directly, using solar trackers increases the amount of power you’ll make. They’re used in the majority of commercial solar “farms,” but aren’t normally used at home.
There are a few different types of solar trackers available. They may either move along one axis or two (if they move in two directions, they can get slightly more power from the sun). Some trackers use a controller monitoring the position of the sun to tell a motor how to move the tracker. “Passive” trackers don’t use motors, but rely on solar heat to help the tracker figure out how to move. Another type of tracker moves throughout the year at the same pace as the sun.
By following the sun, your panels can become 25-35% more efficient. That means you can use fewer panels to generate the same amount of power, which is especially good if you have limited space. However, solar trackers don’t work in some situations, and they can be so expensive that buying more solar panels can be a better solution.
Solar trackers can be used on non-shaded areas of the ground; this is where most commercial solar trackers are used. They can also be used on flat roofs. They don’t work on the typical residential roof, which is slanted. They also can’t be used with specialized solar technology like solar tiles. There may be local regulations that don’t allow you to mount them in your yard, and space considerations can be an issue. They’re more commonly seen in remote homes that are off the grid.
Prices vary depending on the type of tracker you choose. For a tracker holding 183 square feet of solar panels (generating about 2400 watts of power), you might pay between $6,000 and $7,000, plus the cost of installation and the cost of the panels themselves. Depending on your energy needs, you may need more than one tracker.
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