low cost solar tracker

Integrating a solar tracker into your photovoltaic panels which guides them according to the position of the sun can increase production up to 50%. Therefore, do you dare to create your own device for the orientation of your solar panels? If so, we explain how through a project designed by a student at Appalachian State University.

Before starting, the idea is basically to mount the panel on a frame attached to two bicycle wheels. These, in turn, are placed on a larger wooden frame, so that a 12 volt linear actuator moves both the panels and the wheels. In addition, a sensor is necessary, in this case a sensor from Redrok Energy, which detects the path of the sun and makes the actuator move in the right direction.

What do i need to create the solar tracker?

  • Wood planks
  • Two bicycle wheels
  • An angle bar with holes
  • One 12 volt linear actuator
  • LED sensor
  • Nuts, bolts, screws, wires, etc.


With this, the manufacturing begins, with the following steps:

Step 1: Make the base and mount the wheels.

The first step will be to create the base of the solar tracker. To do this, take the boards and cut them on the bias to form two triangles. Their size will simply be the one that best fits your panels. Once you have the triangular shape, join the pieces with two more boards at the base and two more at the top.

Next, cut a few pieces of the corner iron piece to screw them into the wood, just in the center. Now place the wheels in the spaces of the frame, following the example in the picture, and test that they turn without problem.

Step 2: Attach the wooden stand to the wheels.

At this point, you will need to make sure that the wheels are securely attached to the structure. To do this, drill several holes through the edges and screw them in. To strengthen it even more, you can add U-shaped bolts, which will improve the grip of the rims.

Now with boards a little wider than before, you will need to attach two more at the top and bottom, cut to fit the size of the boards. The length of the board will be equal to the width of the panel.

Once you have secured these cards properly, you will have enough space to mount the panels. To secure them, add several pieces of angle iron to the ends of the panel and secure them with screws to the wooden frame.

Step 3: Add the linear actuator.

Mount the actuator on one side of the structure with a through screw and secure it to the movable frame where the panel is located. To place it on the side of the frame that contains the solar system, you can staple it with the board that moves the wheels. The cable, which will pass through the actuator and the clamp, must be secured with a clamp.

Step 4: Embed the sensor.

In this step you will need to add the sensor, which is the one that measures the most suitable position for the panels and determines the motion of the linear actuator. To incorporate it into the structure, you can put it in a boat and fix it on a board that you will in turn have to attach to the structure. Try to make it taller than the rest of the system to make sure nothing is between the sensor and the sun.

Step 5: Start getting the most out of your solar tracker.

If everything went well, everything will be done and you will only have to operate the tracker and, with it, make the most of your energy collection system which, from now on, will automatically follow the direction of the Sun.

Project – Full Instructions: instructables.com