Tracking vs Fixed Solar Panel System Experiment | How Do They Compare?

hi everyone it's jessica and welcome back to my channel in this video i'll be going over a solar panel experiment where i compared the amount of energy collected by a tracking system versus a fixed non-tracking one this is somewhat of a continuation of my last video where i built a solar tracking system so i'll link that in the cards and in the description box below for you to check out as always don't forget to like comment and subscribe if you enjoy the video and without further ado let's get started to start off this is what my setup looks like the first thing i have is my solar panel tracking system which includes the solar panel itself a servo motor ldr photo resistors the stand and the arduino board the second thing i have here is a solar controller which is basically a voltage and current regulator that keeps batteries from overcharging and prevents possible discharging by only allowing the current to flow in one direction from the solar panel to the battery the third thing i have is this watt meter which automatically detects and displays in real time the current voltage watts amp hours and more and the fourth and final thing i have is a 12 volt lead acid battery to store the solar energy if you're interested in any of the materials here or want to learn more about how they work i'll also leave links to them down below in the description box for this experiment i'm taking watt data in hourly intervals starting from 7 30 am to 6 30 pm when i collect the data i do two things the first thing i do is plug in the arduino and allow the solar tracker to run after it stops i take the watch data that's displayed by the watt meter the second thing i do after i unplug the tracker is manually move the solar panel to lay completely flat horizontally this acts as the fixed system and i again take the watts data that's displayed on the watt meter i repeat this process throughout the day and over the course of three separate days each with different weather conditions that are purposefully picked in order to better compare the performances of the two systems this is the data i collected from a typical sunny day in california as you can see the first column lists all the times and hours throughout the day the next two columns display the y values for the tracking and non-tracking system that i collected every hour all of this can be better visualized on this graph here where you can see how the blue tracking data points compared to the red non-tracking data points one thing you may notice immediately is that the blue tracking data points are all either greater than or equal in value to the non-tracking system which is exactly what you'd expect from a good tracking system to estimate energy captured by the solar system i first connect the dots assuming linear approximation the total amount of energy will then be equal to the area under each curve for the non-tracking system the total energy captured on that day is about 50.9 watt hours whereas the tracking system can deliver up to 63.4 watt hours this corresponds to almost 25 of improvement which is quite significant another thing you may notice on the graph is that the blue tracking system maintains higher output power throughout most of the day when the sun is present and is much flatter whereas the power from the red non-tracking system can drop steeply when the solar panel is not in direct sunlight this is the data collected from another relatively sunny day with an exception for a few high clouds normally the sun should reach its peak around noon but on this particular day clouds appeared and blocked the sun completely around 11 30 am as a result the captured power drops immediately to zero for both systems as shown from the graph i used the same method i described earlier to approximate the total energy collected on that day for the non-tracking system it is about 46.7 watt hours for the tracking system it is about 58.8 watt hours as expected due to the few clouds both numbers have dropped slightly compared to the previous sunny day scenario but the tracking system still shows a significant improvement of almost 26 percent over the non-tracking one this is the data collected from the third and last day on this particular day heavy clouds blocked the sun completely in the morning and it didn't clear up until the afternoon because of the morning clouds the total energy collected on this day is much lower for the non-tracking system only 28.2 watt hours of energy were harvested for the tracking system it was only about 32.5 watt hours even under this type of weather condition the tracking system still outperformed the non-tracking one by about 15 from this experiment you can see that even a single axis solar tracking system like the one i built can potentially improve its total energy performance by up to 25 percent the use of a tracking system also provides a flatter response so that a continuous maximum or near maximum power can be delivered throughout the day which is a desired feature especially when a backup battery is not available that was all for this video i hope you enjoyed this experiment and thank you for watching don't forget to like comment and subscribe and i'll see you in my next video bye

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