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Off grid solar tracker. Benefits of Going Solar

Off grid solar tracker. Benefits of Going Solar

    kW Solar Panel Ground Mount Installation Kit

    For most homes in the United States this 30kW solar PV ground mounted kit is more than enough to completely eliminate their bill.

    These 40kW size grid-connect solar kits include solar panels, string inverter, and the racking system for a ground mount. These are complete PV power systems that can work for a home or business, with everything you need to get the system up and running. The kits include hardware components only; does NOT include labor.

    A 40kW Solar Kit can require over 2,300 square feet of space. This 40kW system provides 40,000 watts of DC direct current power. This could produce an estimated 3,200 to 5,600 kilowatt hours (kWh) of alternating current (AC) power per month, assuming at least 5 sun hours per day with the solar array facing South. The highest output will be achieved with an unobstructed south-facing view of the sun for maximum solar power. The actual power generated will vary based on location, equipment and installation factors. Refer to your electric utility bill to find the actual kWh used per month and compare it to how much power these low cost 8kW PV systems can generate.

    The average American uses 920kWh per month. Based on that average this system could reduce your bill to ZERO. If you’re an average consumer of electricity (920kWh/month), a 30kW system could probably give you the ticket to electric bill freedom.

    What is included in my 40kW solar installation kit?

    Our kits provide all the solar components you need from start to finish.

    • Solar Panels. 40kW of Tier-1 solar panels with 25 year warranties.
    • Grid-Tied String Inverter. Ultra reliable SMA Sunny Boy inverter with Secure Power Supply and Rapid Shutdown.
    • Racking and Attachments. Industry leading IronRidge ground racking mounts the solar panels on the ground.
    • System Monitoring. Free with every kit purchase! View and analyze your solar energy production in real-time.
    • System Design and Financial Analysis. We’ll custom engineer this system for your home and calculate the payback on your solar investment.
    • Not Included. Concrete, schedule 40 pipe, wire, conduit, fittings, breakers, AC/DC Disconnects (if required), junction boxes and a sub panel (if required). All these items can be purchased at any electrical supply shop, Home Depot or Lowes, and will typically cost 450,500 or more for larger systems. Our technical support representative will provide a shopping list once your plans are complete.

    How easy is it to install?

    • You can install an 8kW ground-mounted solar system in two or three weekends.
    • Our kits use industry leading solar panels, inverter, optimizers, and racking systems specifically selected and combined to make do-it-yourself installation possible.
    • A homeowner who has wired an AC outlet and is comfortable working with electricity can install our Solar kit.
    • If self-installation is not for you, we can help you find a local solar contractor to help you with the process.

    A typical solar ground-mounted system for a home can be installed within one or two weekends once a permit is obtained from your city or county. After that, it’s just 5 easy steps until you’re producing power from the sun.

    • Take your plan set to your city or county and apply for a permit to install. The plan review process can take up to 10 days. Once the city or county approves your plans and issues your permit you may begin installing your solar system.
    • First, the racking and mounting system must be installed. This is the most laborious process of the solar installation process. You have to dig deep holes and pour concrete.
    • Once the racking and mounting system is secured in the ground, the solar panels and inverters can be quickly installed. The inverter(s) are then tied into the grid through a dedicated breaker in your main service panel.
    • When the installation is complete, your city or county inspector must sign off on it. You can accomplish this by scheduling an inspection meeting with them.
    • Lastly, you must send the final job card, interconnection paperwork, and your net metering agreement to your utility. They will then grant you Permission to Operate. It can take up to 4 weeks after passing inspection for your utility to provide you Permission to Operate. With our interconnection service we will process all the paperwork for you.

    Our job is not over until your system is producing clean energy from the sun! We offer you support throughout the installation process with manuals, videos, and technical support.


    Researchers at the University of Mauritius have designed a tracking system that can be used with portable, lightweight PV systems for use in remote areas in tropical climates.

    The scientists describe the tracker as a low-cost device using a simplified and mechanically driven tracking mechanism. It can be connected to one solar panel and is able to orientate its linear displacement at each of the four corners of the module itself and make it rotate along the three principal axes. A power screw arrangement driven by DC motors enables the movement of the tracker.

    “A motor coupler was used as a connector between the DC motors and lead screw,” they said. “The lead screw had pitch and diameter specifications of 1 mm and 8 mm respectively.”

    Through the direction and rotational speed of the motors, PV system owners can achieve their desired tilt angles by precisely adjusting each corner of the solar panel.

    “For smooth operation of the solar tracker, the four linear actuators were linked to the main stage by considering a ball-joint system based on aluminum balls of 18 mm in diameter,” they said. “To protect the motor components and electronic circuit from adverse weather conditions, a lightweight protective casing made from aluminum composite panel (ACP) namely, alucobond was used. The protective casing had cross-sectional area and height dimensions of 25 by 25 cm and 20 cm respectively.”

    The system moves the panel in accordance with the positioning of the sun based on the sensor data transmitted and processed by the Arduino Uno open-source microcontroller, which follows a voltage difference observed in the corresponding paired sensors due to variation in light intensity.

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    “The paired motors operate in synchronization but in the opposite direction in order to induce a tilting effect to the solar panels,” they said. “To achieve an optimized orientation in the three principle axes, the remaining two motors also operate in a similar fashion to compensate for tilting of the solar panel in accordance with variation in light intensity as detected by the two additional sensors.”

    The academics built a system prototype with a solar module measuring 450 mm x 170 mm with a power output of 22.5 W. The research group said the system was able to generate 37% more current than a reference panel without the tracker.

    “The proposed device is projected to produce a total energy output of up to 8100 Wh if operated for 12 h over a 30-day period and if meeting the set target of maximum power output of 22.5 W,” it concluded.

    The team described the device in “ Low-cost solar tracker to maximize the capture of solar energy in tropical countries,” which was recently published in Energy Reports.

    “Rhe cost analysis and portability test showed that the final designed system met the initially set targets in this study,” they said.

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    Emiliano joined pv magazine in March 2017. He has been reporting on solar and renewable energy since 2009.

    Solar Trackers Explained: How It Works, Pros and Cons

    The bigger your project, the more likely solar trackers will add value.

    David Kuchta, Ph.D. has 10 years of experience in gardening and has read widely in environmental history and the energy transition. An environmental activist since the 1970s, he is also a historian, author, gardener, and educator.

    Solar trackers can increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce the payback time for solar owners to recoup their installation costs. While they are more common on commercial-scale and ground-mounted solar panels, some designs can also be installed on flat or low-slope rooftops. Whether they are worth the extra cost or not depends on a number of factors.

    Installing GUIMods on the Cerbo GX (is it better?)

    How Solar Trackers Work

    Solar trackers are support structures that allow solar panels to follow the path of the sun and absorb more solar radiation. They can increase the efficiency of the panels by anywhere from 10% to 45%, depending on the type of tracker. Because of the cost of the hardware and installation, they are more commonly seen on large-scale solar projects like community solar farms than on individual residences. It is easier, safer, and more cost-effective to install trackers on ground-mounted arrays than on rooftops, and the scale of the project allows more return on the investment.

    The challenge with installing a tracker on a roof is one of physics. While ground-mounted trackers are often sunk into the ground with concrete pillars, roof-mounted ones rely on the strength and integrity of the roof. Rooftop trackers raise the profile of the solar panels, which increases their exposure to strong winds—and that, in extreme weather, could pull the entire solar system off the roof. Rooftop trackers need to be of lighter weight and lower profile.

    Types of Solar Trackers

    Trackers follow the sun in one of two ways. Single-axis trackers rotate on an east-west axis, following the sun throughout the day. These are designed to increase solar absorption by 25% to 35%. Dual-axis trackers rotate on a north-south axis as well, following the sun throughout the year. Compared to a fixed-tilt system mounted on a roof, a ground-mounted system with a dual-axis tracker can produce up to 45% more electricity.

    How the tracker follows the sun depends on the model and price. Some lower-cost trackers need to be shifted manually. Passive trackers are in the mid-cost range; they use no motor, but instead, use a liquid that tilts the system to the west as it heats up or tilts it back to the east when it cools. An active solar tracker uses a motor to automatically orient the panels for maximum exposure to the sun, and dual-axis systems can tilt to nearly any angle to face the sun. Many active trackers run their motors from energy produced by the solar panels themselves. They might also use GPS and software to maximize the panels’ efficiency.

    Pros and Cons of Investing in a Solar Tracker

    Solar trackers are not cheap, so their benefits need to be weighed against their cost. Depending on the arrangement of the trackers and the size of the system, a single-axis tracking system can add 500 to 450,000 per panel to the entire system cost. A dual-axis system can double the cost of the entire project. The increased output of the solar system may or may not be worth the increased cost.

    Many factors come into play. Using a tracking system means fewer panels can be installed. Consider the following back-of-the-napkin calculations: In the United States, the average American household consumes 11,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, or roughly 30 kWh/day. To provide that energy, a 5.1-kW solar system with 17 300-watt panels and no solar tracker could, in theory, produce 30.6 kWh of electricity in a 6-hour day, while a 3.9-kW solar system with thirteen 300-watt panels and a solar tracker could produce 31.2 kWh over an 8-hour day. Installing higher-efficiency solar panels can even further reduce the number of panels: Eleven 350-watt panels with a solar tracker can produce 30.8 kWh over 8 hours.

    This simple math has a number of implications for overall system cost.

    Where you live matters: Alaska receives on average 2-3 “peak sun hours” per day, when the sun shines at 1,000 watts per square meter, while Arizona receives an average of 7-8 peak sun hours. The lower the latitude (the closer to the equator), the less north-south seasonal change in the panels’ relationship to the sun. A dual-axis tracker provides less of a return-on-investment in Arizona than adding more panels to capture those peak sun hours. In Alaska, however, where peak sun hours vary more widely depending on the time of year, a dual-axis tracker may provide more benefit.


    In areas where electricity is billed depending on the time of day (called “time-of-use” billing, or TOU), trackers can increase the output of solar energy during times when electricity from the grid is most expensive, reducing the owner’s energy costs.

    States with net metering programs allow solar owners to get credit for any excess energy they send to the grid. Not every state, however, has such a program. Among those that do, some states give 100% credit for excess energy produced, while others give a smaller percentage. Solar trackers provide less of a benefit in states with 100% net metering programs, since homeowners can use more panels to produce more energy during peak sunlight hours, then essentially use the grid to store that electricity, getting full credit for it later when they use it.

    In states with lower (or no) net metering programs, however, some or all of the credit for that peak energy will be lost when it is sent into the grid. By installing solar trackers, homeowners can install fewer panels, produce less electricity during peak hours (thereby losing less unused energy), yet extend the hours in which they produce electricity.

    Especially in states without net metering, where the electricity grid cannot be used as a virtual battery, a solar tracker with solar battery storage can allow more energy to be stored with a smaller number of panels.

    Your energy-use patterns may matter as well. If you live in a warm climate where you use far more electricity to cool your house in the summer than you do heating it in the winter, you can take fuller advantage of longer summer days by increasing your energy production with a solar tracker. The opposite may be true for colder climates: adding a third more panels to your array adds a third more energy output throughout the year, including winter, when you need it more.

    As always, supply and demand matter. With the increasing demand for solar panels and supply-chain problems, solar module have begun rising in 2021, potentially making the installation of more panels less cost-effective than adding a solar tracker. The “learning curve” has also been an important factor in the solar industry; as the solar-tracker industry grows, its cost efficiencies may increase and its drop.   Federal and state incentives for solar energy may change the equation as well.

    What Are Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems?

    A standard solar system — the kind you see on most residential properties — is “grid-tied.” This means they remain connected to the public grid and are capable of a few things:

    • They produce energy for your home
    • They can send excess energy to the grid to let you take advantage of net metering
    • The system allows your home to pull electricity from the electric grid if needed

    Through interconnection, grid-tied solar panels allow you to use the sun’s energy whenever possible but always have an electricity supply from your utility company when you need it.

    On the other hand, off-grid systems are not tied to the grid. That means you cannot pull energy from a utility company if your energy needs ever outpace your production, and you cannot send excess power to the grid or take advantage of net metering.

    Off-grid solar energy systems are a great option for RVs and properties that are too far from the electric grid for a cost-effective tie-in. They’re also helpful for small projects where it’s nice to have electricity, but it may not be worthwhile to connect to the grid. Some examples include sheds, detached garages and other outbuildings.

    Off-grid solar systems are usually off-grid out of necessity rather than preference. In most cities, it’s not yet legal to live fully “off-grid.”


    How Do Off-Grid Solar Systems Work?

    Instead of relying on the grid for power at times when the sun is not shining, off-grid solar power systems will use an energy storage system or solar battery to store excess energy produced by the panels.

    Acting as a solar generator, that battery bank can then be called on to provide power on cloudy days or at night when the solar energy generation is likely to dip below demand.

    When your panels generate more power than you’re using, the excess energy will get routed to the batteries. When solar production drops, your home will pull what it can from your panels and will supplement that with energy stored in the solar generator.

    Provided your off-grid photovoltaic (PV) system is sized appropriately for your home or RV, the combination of power from your panels and batteries can provide enough electricity to fully power a home, making it an ideal situation for non-grid-tied applications.

    Off-grid systems give you the freedom to electrify just about any home or solar project in a remote location. Plus, installing off-grid systems is often straightforward enough to complete as a DIY home improvement project, so you can save money as opposed to having a professional install a grid-tied system.

    Equipment In an Off-Grid Solar System

    Off-grid solar systems involve a lot more than an array of solar panels and a battery. The list of equipment you might need includes:

    • Photovoltaic panels
    • Solar batteries
    • A solar charge controller
    • A solar inverter
    • Mounting equipment
    • Wiring

    Most importantly, you’ll need PV panels. Your panels are the component that harnesses the energy from the sun. Without them, your home or RV would never have power. You can use just about any panel for your off-grid system, as long as the array is sized properly for your energy demands.

    The next most important component in your off-grid setup is the battery. Your solar battery will store the energy your panels produce for later use, which lets you maintain electricity through the night and during cloudy days when production is minimal. Solar storage options range in their capacity, and the size is a crucial factor to get right.

    Although not necessary in all off-grid systems, solar storage solutions are a requirement if you need access to electricity at all times of the day.

    I’ve had Solar for 10 Years. Here’s The Thing

    Some off-grid systems use a charge controller to route the energy collected directly to a device for charging. Charge controllers prevent overcharging when the sunlight on your panels is abundant. They also help avoid more complicated setups that require inverters.

    If you’re installing your solar system in an off-grid home where you plan to use electricity as you normally would, you’ll need an inverter. Inverters convert the direct current (DC) energy harnessed from the sun into alternating current (AC) energy. AC power is what you’d use when you turn on a light or plug in an electronic device, so conversion is necessary.

    grid, solar, tracker, benefits

    It’s possible to forgo installing an inverter if you have a charge controller or you have batteries with a setup that already utilizes DC electricity. This is more common in recreational vehicles (RVs) than anything else, but some tiny homes also have DC setups.

    Finally, you have mounting equipment and wiring. Rooftop solar systems are mounted using roof brackets. Depending on the size and location of your system, though, you might use another mounting option, like ground mounts or pole mounts. Wiring will also be required to connect all of the components mentioned above.

    What Are the Top 5 Best Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems?

    Below, we’ll include a quick list of our top five best kits for off-grid use, followed by a comparison chart with some important product specifications. In the following sections, we’ll explain why we’ve chosen each of these products and provide more in-depth information for each.

    • Renogy 100W Panel Off-Grid Solar Kit
    • WindyNation 400W Solar Kit
    • Eco-Worthy 1,200W Solar Kit
    • Renogy 800W Monocrystalline Solar Panel Premium Kit
    • ACOPower 800 Watt Monocrystalline Black RV Solar System

    Renogy 100W Panel Off-Grid Solar Kit — Best Overall

    The Renogy off-grid solar kit is our favorite overall, and it’s the one we feel most comfortable recommending. It includes four 100-watt solar panels for a total output of 400 watts. This means it’s ideal for smaller applications, although it can be expanded with additional panels for more power.

    The kit also includes a charge controller for easy connection of devices or appliances. The charge controller is a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controller, which isn’t as efficient as a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controller. Still, it’s a great option for quickly connecting devices to your panels.

    The Renogy kit can be equipped with a Bluetooth module that lets you connect to the system wirelessly to check performance. This is an outstanding option that most other kits don’t include. It’s handy for setting up your batteries and keeping an eye on production and storage to ensure you don’t experience a blackout.

    Unfortunately, this system doesn’t include batteries or an inverter, so if you’re looking to go fully off-grid with reliable power, you’ll need to buy these separately. Renogy does sell compatible 100 amp-hour, deep-cycle batteries for around 300 each, so you can easily add those onto your system while you’re collecting your equipment.

    Perhaps most importantly, Renogy is a trusted name in do-it-yourself solar equipment. Not only do you get high-quality materials and durable components, but you also get the company’s 5-year warranty for the materials and workmanship.

    Renogy’s equipment is also waterproof. The components have waterproof ratings of IP65 and IP67, so you can install this system in just about any location with confidence.

    Many Renogy products are available from sites like Amazon and Home Depot, so you should have no issue getting your hands on the equipment.

    grid, solar, tracker, benefits
    • High-quality, durable components
    • Includes Bluetooth module for wireless solar monitoring
    • Trusted and reliable brand name
    • Great value for the money
    • Relatively affordable
    • Can be expanded to provide more power
    • Doesn’t include batteries or an inverter
    • Not ideal for larger applications
    • Poor customer service

    WindyNation 400W Solar Kit — Best for Small Applications

    The 400W solar kit from WindyNation is our top pick for a complete solar setup for smaller solar projects. It’s about twice the price of the Renogy system, but it includes more equipment that allows you to go fully off-grid.

    The kit comes with four 100W panels, a charge controller, an inverter, four 100 amp-hour batteries, wiring to hook up your system, and brackets for an easy solar installation.

    This is an ideal starter kit if you’re looking to convert a small cabin, RV or other remote home to off-grid renewable energy. You’ll have everything you need to produce and store electricity through the night and through cloudy days if you buy the complete kit.

    grid, solar, tracker, benefits

    You can also buy a kit without an inverter for about 600 less if you don’t need to power a home or need access to AC current. It still comes with a PWM charge controller to utilize the energy you collect.

    WindyNation is also a reliable solar manufacturer, and it backs this system with a 5-year warranty for the panels, a 1-year warranty for all other components, including the batteries and a 25-year warranty for power production. Its products are also available on Amazon and from home improvement stores like Home Depot, so they’re very accessible.

    • Excellent warranty coverage for panels and efficiency
    • Includes batteries and a controller
    • High-quality materials will last for years
    • Available for less money without inverter
    • Relatively straightforward to set up
    • expensive than competitors
    • Warranty isn’t the best for equipment besides solar panels

    What Should You Consider When Buying An Off-Grid Solar Panel System?

    grid, solar, tracker, benefits

    Choosing an off-grid system is an intimidating process, especially if it’s your first experience installing a solar kit. There are quite a few things you should keep in mind as you go through the different options. To help make the process a bit smoother, we’ll discuss some of the most important factors to consider below.

    Energy Needs

    The first thing you should consider when choosing an off-grid PV system is the size of your project. All solar panel systems should be sized according to the amount of energy you consume, so a quick calculation can help determine what size will meet your demands.

    You can start by figuring out how much energy your off-grid application consumes. This can be a challenge, but you can get the expected loads of each electrical device you plan to run on energy from the sun and the amount of time you’ll be using it each day.

    This can give you a baseline for your expected energy consumption. Sizing up from this by around 25% can help offset the days that your system won’t produce at 100% capacity, such as cloudy days or winter months.

    Take a look at the table below to learn the average consumption rates for different household appliances and electronics.

    If all you need to power in your off-grid home is a mini-fridge, laptop and two light bulbs, then you’ll only need to supply 345 watts of continuous power (100 watts 125 watts 2x 60 watts). The Renogy 100W panel kit would do the trick for a load that small.

    One additional consideration to make is the efficiency rating of your panels. A higher rating will usually lead to greater rates of energy production. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline and thin-film panels, although they’re more costly. You can always check the panel’s specifications for a specific efficiency rating.

    Batteries and Storage Capacity

    The next thing you’ll want to consider is whether or not you need batteries for your system. Some off-grid systems can function with just solar modules if you only need access to power during daylight hours. For other applications, you’ll want electricity at all times, even on cloudy days when solar production is low or at night when it’s non-existent.

    If you do decide you want batteries, you’ll need to do another calculation to figure out how much energy you need to store to meet your needs. Determining how much storage you need to cover your consumption in watts or kilowatts is tough, but you can assume that most 100 amp-hour batteries provide approximately 1,200 watt-hours (or 1.2 kWh) of stored energy. This could power a 100-watt appliance for 12 hours.

    From there, you can decide which of your devices you’ll want to be able to run on stored energy and size your batteries accordingly. As is the case with panels, it’s always wise to size up a bit for the best results.

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