Design of a Fluid-Powered Solar Tracker for Solar Panels

The study’s objective was to design, build, and test a full-scale, self-powered solar tracking mechanism incorporating a damper system to reduce wind flutter.

Summary of Research

The study’s objective was to design, build, and test a full-scale, self-powered solar tracking mechanism incorporating a damper system to reduce wind flutter.

The tracker is activated by a balancing fluid (methanol) moving between two glass tubes positioned on each side of a pivoting solar panel frame. When the panel does not directly face the sun, there is a temperature differential between the tubes. That causes a difference in vapor pressure that pushes the fluid so as to direct the panel towards the sun. The platform pivots on skate-board bearings and is attached to the damper system consisting of graduated cylinders with honey inside. A watt-meter measures the electric power output of the solar panel as it powers a water pump.

Data were collected by recording the system power output at 30-minute intervals between 9:00AM and 4:00PM. This was compared to the output of a fixed, non-tracking panel. The design boosted total daily energy output by 24%, and tracked the sun reliably. The damping
system dramatically decreased wind flutter and increased efficiency.

It was concluded that the full-scale fluid-based solar tracker with the damping system increases the energy made by the solar panel and is a viable real world application.

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Design of a Fluid-Powered Solar Tracker for Solar Panels

The study’s objective was to design, build, and test a full-scale, self-powered solar tracking mechanism incorporating a damper system to reduce wind flutter.

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