Solar trackers can boost the output of a PV system by as much as 20 to 40 percent. Trackers allow photovoltaic panels to follow the sun as it moves through the sky, which maximizes their exposure to sunlight and allows for optimal energy production.
As a concept, tracker technology sounds great. Creating electricity is the goal, after all, and your solar panels will make more if they always face the sun. So, you might think that adding a solar tracker to your PV system is the right choice.
Why, then, do professional photovoltaic contractors recommend fixed-tilt racks for most PV system installations?
Solar Trackers Cost More than Fixed-Tilt Racks
Fixed racks come at a fraction of the cost of solar trackers. The price difference can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending upon the size of the PV system you’re installing.
Plus, installing a sun tracking system is a complex task – much more so than mounting photovoltaic panels to fixed-tilt racks. As such, the labor charges for professional installation tend to be significantly higher.
Investing in trackers for a boost in energy production might have made sense decades ago when solar panels were much more expensive. Now that panel prices are much lower, a sun tracking system usually isn’t worth the cost. If you need a greater amount of electricity, it’s almost always more cost-effective to install more photovoltaic panels.
Solar Trackers Require Routine Maintenance
Higher upfront costs aren’t all you’ll get if you choose to install solar trackers. You can also count on spending more for maintenance.
Sun tracking systems have motorized parts and, without routine professional maintenance, the machinery can fail. Regular maintenance ensures ongoing operation, but the added expense brings down the overall energy savings.
In comparison, fixed racks rarely need maintenance or repairs. For optimal PV system output, experts recommend annual professional inspections – but the likelihood of a problem is low.
Should Your PV System Include Solar Trackers?
As you can see, fixed-tilt racks provide a clear cost advantage. Sun tracking systems offer increased solar energy production, but the extra electricity doesn’t usually compensate for the expenses of installation and lifetime maintenance.
There are some installations where photovoltaic contractors recommend adding a sun tracking system, especially for commercial and industrial projects that need maximum energy output in a small amount of space. If there isn’t room for more solar panels, using trackers may be the only way to create the amount of electricity required.
If you’re planning to install a PV system, it’s always wise to compare your options. The professional contractors at Intermountain Wind & Solar can help you weigh the pros and cons of sun tracking systems and fixed-tilt racks to determine which type of mount makes better sense for your solar power project.
As the leading photovoltaic provider in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming, Intermountain Wind & Solar designs efficient, cost-effective PV systems that provide optimal energy production. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss solar trackers and other types of mounting systems for your photovoltaic system.