solar panel tracking system price

Our team has researched and reviewed the Solar Panel Tracking System Price to help you come up with a better buying decision. We’ve also put up a solar tracker kit and residential solar tracker shopping guide with the features you can consider when buying solar for indoor or outdoor use.

residential solar tracker

Solar Tracker Costs 2020

 A solar panel tracker ensures you’re getting the best out of your solar panels

 A single-axis tracker for a 3kWp system costs around £2,500

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) launched on 1st January 2020 to replace the old Feed-in Tariff. Check out our guide to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) to find out how much you could earn.

If you think normal solar panels sound great, how about solar panels that follow the sun?

Just like sunflowers move throughout the day so that they are always facing the sun (the fancy word for this is ‘heliotropic’), a clever bit of technology called a solar PV tracking system can make your solar panels behave in the same way.

This ensures that you can get the most out of your solar PV system, increasing its daily output by up to 35%. Solar trackers are currently only available for ground-mounted solar panels, but with solar technology rapidly advancing, it won’t be long before you can have one on your roof.

a solar panel with a solar tracker in the garden

On this page, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about solar trackers, including the different types and average costs. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about standard solar panels, check our our guide to solar panel costs in 2019.

To find out how much solar panels will cost you, simply fill in this short form, and our suppliers will contact you with their best prices.


What is a solar tracker system?

Let’s be honest – it’s simple and convenient to set your solar panels in a fixed position, then leave them there. If you’re living in the UK, panels should ideally be a) south-facing, b) tilted at about a 30-40° angle, and c) completely unobstructed by shade. If you’ve got this right, you’re already nailing solar power.

However, the Earth doesn’t stop spinning, which means the sun is always moving across the sky. As the sun travels from east to west, the optimum angle for your solar panels continually changes. The solution: put your panels on a tracker, and they’ll gradually turn throughout the day, so that they are always directly facing the sun.

This keeps the angle at which sunlight hits your solar panels (known as ‘the angle of incidence’) as narrow as possible, and pushes the output of your solar panels to the best it could possibly be.

In most cases, a solar tracker can increase the performance of a solar panel by around 30-35%. Typical gains also vary depending on the time of year, with the summer months being the best time because the sun traverses a much bigger portion of the sky.

A solar tracker can function either passively or actively. A passive solar tracker works on simple gas canisters that get heavier as they heat up, while an active solar tracker relies on a motor, gears, and a controller, so it’s a bit more expensive.DID YOU KNOW?

According to research by Greentech Media in 2017, single-axis solar tracking costs £0.85 per watt. Fill out this form to start receiving free solar panel quotes today.

Trackers dominate U.S. utility-scale solar (w/charts) – pv magazine USA

Single-axis vs dual-axis trackers

How much freedom do you want your solar panels to have? If you’re thinking of buying a solar tracker, you’ll need to choose between two different types: single-axis or dual-axis.

As the name would suggest, a single-axis solar tracker operates on just one axis of movement, meaning it can follow the sun from east to west, but it cannot do anything else.

On the other hand, a dual-axis solar tracker takes that single axis and doubles it, allowing your solar panels to turn from north to south as well as east to west. This means that, as the seasons change and the sun’s height gradually increases (in the summer) or decreases (in the winter), your panels can respond accordingly. This function is very helpful if you live somewhere with a high line of latitude (e.g. the UK, Canada, New Zealand etc.), but it’s not very useful elsewhere.

A popular compromise is to use a single-axis solar tracker, and then manually alter the angle of your solar panels a couple of times each year. In his magnificent guide to solar panel tilting, Charles Landau explains the optimum summer and winter angles for solar panels, along with the ideal time for changing them. Thanks, Charles!DID YOU KNOW?

You can save more than £400 each year, just by switching your home’s energy supplier. If you’re looking to cut down your bills, this one’s a bit of a no-brainer.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Switchd. With four different price plans (including a free option), Switchd will find you cheaper, greener energy suppliers in no time.

Solar Panel Tracking System Price

The cost of single-axis solar tracking is £0.85 (or $1.08) per watt, according to research by Greentech Media in 2017.

Based on this estimate, here is how much it would cost to mount a typical solar PV system on a single-axis tracker, ranging from a 1 kilowatt-peak (kWp) to a 4kWp system.

Solar PV system sizeCost of single-axis tracker
1kWp£850
2kWp£1,701
3kWp£2,552
4kWp£3,403

Price estimates updated in June 2019.

If you were to mount a 3.5kWp solar PV system (costing around £6,500) on a single-axis tracker, it would cost you around £2,980. This means that a single-axis tracker generally costs about 35% of the total cost of your solar panels.

Should you buy a tracker?

Unless you own a large, commercial-scale array of solar panels, it’s probably not worth buying a solar tracker. In real terms, a 35% output gain is hugely significant when it’s applied to a 100kWp system, but not so much when it comes to residential solar panels.

Given that the cost of solar panels has fallen by around 6-8% every year since 2010, the cheapest way to increase your household’s supply of solar power is simply to buy more solar panels. Solar PV systems are easily scalable, so it’s not difficult to add extra panels, and you can always opt for high-efficiency modules.

Fortunately, we can help you with the next step. To find out how much it will cost you to install new solar panels at home, simply pop your details in here, and our qualified installers will be in touch.

TIPS FOR BUYING YOUR SOLAR POWER SYSTEM.

Buying a home solar power system can be a very exciting experience, but don’t get too carried away by advertising. Be sure to focus on the important aspects of your purchase as it’s a substantial investment and one you’ll be living with for a long time. The following are some buying solar tips on what to look for when purchasing a system.

Buying solar tips: Solar quotes online

Recommendations

Ask friends, family neighbours or colleagues who have had solar PV systems installed. Often the best buying solar tips com from right in your neighbourhood. They’ll be able to tell you about their experiences and perhaps alert you to any problems they experienced. Problems that you’ll be able to avoid. Learn more about potential issues in our consumers guide to solar power – avoiding tricks and traps.

Length of manufacturer’s warranty

Take note of what guarantees the manufacturer offers. If the manufacturer is reputable and the warranty period on the panels is substantial (at least 25 years) you would naturally expect your solar system to last long for a long time, long enough to pay for itself and make you a profit. However, for a warranty to be honoured, the manufacturer needs to be still operating. So, be cautious of brands without a track record in Australia.

Have realistic price expectations

If you are paying substantially less than many other similar size systems quoted, you may find poor quality equipment and/or poor installation work. Quality equipment and installation isn’t cheap and, like all other purchases, you often get what you pay for.

Compare components and warranty periods and check into the company providing the installation. While large, well established companies can pass on substantial savings due to increased buying power, other companies often reduce costs by cutting important corners.

Solar panel certifications

This applies to all solar panel purchases, but especially to the purchases that could attract a government rebate. The certification on solar panels indicates the type of testing that they have undergone. For instance, TUV IEC 61215 confirms that the solar panels have gone through testing by an independent laboratory and have met their advertised specifications. Other certification types are often self-assessed. Therefore, they rely on the company being honest in what it claims.

Decide on the type of panels

It used to be the case that if you had limited roof space you would need highly efficient (and very expensive) mono-crystalline solar panels. This is rapidly changing with advances in polycrystalline panel technology and some thin film technologies. Still, even if you have ample roof space you may still want to consider panel sizes vs. output. Filling up your roof with inefficient panels will affect your ability to add more panels at a later date, and does not maximise the power output of the space.

It’s also important to bear in mind that regardless of claim, no solar panel technology will produce a significant amount of power in full shade. Learn more about monocrystalline vs. thin film panels.

Solar panel mounting

Make sure that the roof, ground mounting or tracking system is engineer certified for the area you are in. For example, if you live in a cyclone prone area make sure the mounting system  and mounting brackets are also cyclone rated. Quality systems are wind certified. After all you do not want your system to take off during a wild storm . The mounting system is a very vital component and some suppliers skimp on this item. Make sure you ask about wind certification, warranty arrangements and get copies of relevant documents.

Solar inverter efficiency

A power inverter is the box between the panels and your appliances that converts DC electricity from solar panels to AC suitable for use in your home.

Not all solar inverters are equal and inverter efficiency will have a direct impact on the amount of time it takes for a system to pay for itself. Look at the inverter efficiency before purchasing a system. Obviously, the more efficient the inverter the better. Less electricity will be wasted as heat during the conversion from DC to AC. Industry leading solar inverters for grid connect systems in Australia include SMA, Sungrow and Fronius. Be cautious of  generic type brands.

Get a few solar quotes

It always wise to gather a few solar quotes when making a major purchase as you will find that prices vary widely between providers. But don’t be just swayed by price as inferior components can reduce the up-front cost of the system. However, they may wind up costing you more in the long run in terms of reliability and efficiency.

Buy solar power at discount prices

Avoid high pressure sales people

High pressure sales tactics are unfortunately common in the solar industry. Try not to make decisions on the spot, just ask the person to let you consider the offer. If it’s as good as they claim, it will still be a good deal tomorrow. Pressured decisions on the spot often turn out to be less advantageous in reflection.

High pressure sales people are only one of the pitfalls that may await you when you shop for a solar power system. Learn more about the potential issues and how to avoid them in our consumers guide to solar power – avoiding tricks and traps.

One of the best buying solar tips is to make sure to use an accredited solar power system installer, certified by the Clean Energy Council.

HOW TO BUY SOLAR PANELS

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How to Buy Solar Panels

Are you thinking about buying a solar panel system but don’t know where to start? You came to the right place!SEI PV Design ManualA Really Great Read

Before we dive in to the specifics of solar panels (a.k.a. PV modules, solar electric panels), let us remind you that energy efficiency and conservation are the best ways to reduce your energy foot print and your electrical bill (see our Energy Efficiency and Your Home article). Please actively explore and incorporate all avenues of efficiency before pursuing a home solar panel system. That being said, solar power is an exciting clean-energy option that is becoming more and more popular. Solar electricity is a fascinating topic. To really feed your curiosity, we highly recommend the book PHOTOVOLTAICS: DESIGN & INSTALL MANUAL.

What shapes, sizes and types do solar panels come in?

Solar panels vary in length and width and are often about 2 inches thick. They are generally about 30 pounds or less, but the larger solar panels can be cumbersome to carry onto the roof. We carry a wide selection of solar panels for home use: framed, foldable, and rollable.

  • Framed solar panels are the industry standards. They are the most cost effective and applicable for most home solar panels applications.
  • Foldable solar panels are lightweight (less than 5 pounds) and can fold up and fit easily in a backpack.
  • Flexible (or rollable) solar panels are also lightweight but bulkier than the foldable panels. Many people use these rollable solar panels on boats because they are durable and can be easily stowed after use.

Generally thin-film laminate type of solar panels (foldable & flexible) are more expensive per watt and require more square footage to produce the same wattage of an equally sized framed module.

What size solar panels do I need for my home and how many?

The number of solar panels you will need depends primarily upon the amount of electricity you are trying to produce and the insolation in your area. Solar insolation can be thought of as the number of hours in the day that the solar panel will produce its rated output. This is not equivalent to the number of daylight hours. Read more about insolation in our How To section and get an idea of the insolation in your area: Solar Insolation Map – USA.

You’ll find solar panels in a variety of wattages. Watts are the main measure of a solar panel, along with nominal voltage. For a rough idea of how many watts of solar panels you will need for your home, start by dividing your electrical usage (in watt-hours per day) by the solar insolation in your area. Bump that number up by 30-50% (to cover system inefficiencies) and you’ll have an idea of the number of watts of solar panels total you will need. If that number is more than 1000 watts, you are talking about $4K to $8K or more for the solar electric system. (Could we take this opportunity to mention the importance of energy efficiency again?!) If you could still use a little help with the math, please give us a call and tell us how much electricity you are trying to produce (in kwh/month or watt-hours/ day) and your location, and we’ll help get you started.

What types of solar panels are there?

Most solar panels can be classified as monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous. This is based on the silicon structure that comprises the cell. It’s not quite as complicated as it sounds. Basically a 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel should have the same output as a 100 watt polycrystalline solar panel and a 100 watt amorphous solar panel. The main difference is the amount of area which the solar panel occupies. Because the monocrystalline structure is more efficient than amorphous (and only very slighlty more so than polycrystalline) in turning sunlight into electricity, the amorphous solar panel of the same wattage will be physically larger. By the way, when talking about efficiency of solar panels, keep in mind that solar panel efficiency is still only about 13-18% efficient in turning sunlight into electricity. Often amorphous solar panels are less expensive than the crystalline panels. If space is not an issue, then an amorphous panel could be a great option. Additionally, amorphous solar panels perform better than crystalline solar panels in very hot temperatures and are also slightly more tolerant of partial shading.

Solar Energy for Home Heating & Cooling

Please keep in mind that solar panels produce electricity, and should not be used to produce electricity for heating or cooling sources. If heating is your main issue, be sure to check out Solar Air Heaters and Solar Water Heaters. Solar air heating and solar water heating are examples of solar thermal technologies which produce heat, but not electricity (and are much more cost effective than solar panels). While solar electric panels are not an economically feasible choice to power your air conditioning, a solar panel can power an attic fan that can help reduce the amount of time you use your AC.

Locating your Panels – Very Important!

A key factor in the effective use of solar electricity is proper placement of the solar panels. Make sure to locate the panels where they will receive full sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Be sure that the solar panels will not be shaded by shadows from tree branches, chimneys, other structures, etc. Once again – NO SHADE! You will be mounting the solar panels on the roof, the ground or a pole. For more information on the proper placement solar electric panels, please checkout the How To for Solar Panel Mounting article.

How Long will Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels use the sun’s light to generate electricity. They generate electricity during sunny daylight hours and can be used in a system with batteries so that the electricity can be used at other times as well. Also known as Photovoltaic (PV) modules, solar panels are the main component of a solar electric system. Along with an inverter, mounting system, batteries and Solar Charge Controllers, solar panels can produce electricity to power the energy efficient appliances and lights and appliances in most households. Solar panels themselves generally last over 25 years, and require little maintenance. Many of the first solar panels produced in the 50s are still in use today. Many of the solar panels have a 20 year warranty or more. A common warranty states that the panels will produce at least 80% of their rated power after 20 years.

What else will I Need with a Solar Panel?

In addition to the solar panel mounting hardware, there are additional components that you will need for a safe installation. If you plan on using just one solar panel in a battery based system (an off-grid system), you will need a solar charge controller and overcurrent protection to protect each major component of your system: solar panels, solar charge controller, deep cycle batteries, and inverter. If you plan on using more solar panels in your system, you will also need to safely wire the photovoltaic solar panels together and to the charge controller. An easy and safe way to do this is by using MC (multi contact) connectors. These connectors connect to the cables coming from the solar panel and can be cut in half to expose bare wire. Combiner & pass-through boxes are used to collect the bare ends of the wire from multiple solar panels; then from the combiner box you can run just one set of wires to the solar charge controller. For each series string of solar panels, you will need an appropriate sized breaker.

That’s a lot of components to figure out! If after reading all this you are a little confused but even more excited about solar energy, what’s next? Well, you can read more about solar panel systems. Also, our AltE U offers in-person workshops in Massachusetts and Ohio, as well as free education online videos. If you are considering installing your own solar electric system or installing PV (photovoltaic panels) as a business, be sure to check out our series of three classes beginning with our Basic Photovoltaic and Site Assessment class.

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