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Linkage Synthesis for Solar Tracking

[+] Author Affiliations
Kavan Jani, Hong Zhou, Chung Leung

Texas A&M University - Kingsville, Kingsville, TX

Paper No. IMECE2018-86471, pp. V04AT06A015; 7 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 4A: Dynamics, Vibration, and Control
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5203-3
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


Solar trackers orient solar panels toward the Sun to increase solar energy harvesting. To enhance solar energy capture, solar trackers change solar panels’ orientation throughout the day to follow the Sun’s path and make solar panels normal to the solar ray. The current solar trackers make solar panels perpendicular to the solar ray because of the active motion control of the solar panels. However, they also consume considerable power since the motion of solar panels is usually generated by two motors simultaneously and continuously. The merits of the existing sensor-based dual-axis solar trackers are compromised by their motor power consumption. In this research, the Sun’s location relative to an arbitrary point on Earth is determined at any time on any day in any year. Because of the determined solar location and path, only one axis is needed for the proposed solar tracker since it does not rely on any sensor to determine the Sun’s location. The current single-axis solar trackers face challenges on the limited oscillation range of the solar panels and the potential interference between an oscillating solar panel and its corresponding ground. In this paper, a sensor-free single-axis solar tracking linkage is designed to surmount these challenges. The solar tracking motion of the designed linkage is simulated. The designed linkage is fabricated and tested. The motion of the fabricated linkage is controlled by a microcontroller to generate the desired intermittent solar tracking motion.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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