The Complete Guide For Solar Panel Design Systems - Part 2

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The Complete Guide For Solar Panel Design Systems - Part 2

Design III — Tilt

These first two designs were economically driven, streamlined systems. This next design aims to variably tilt the panels to “follow the sun,” which can increase photovoltaic efficiency up to 40 percent.

As the sun travels from east to west, tilting the panels in one axis will increase efficiency by 20 percent. In the northeast region of the United States, the sun also moves north and south, yielding another 20 percent increase in efficiency if the panels are tilted in a second axis.

The modular design with slats can be altered by adding two moving actuators in adjacent corners of a square array. These actuators could be comprised of either a lead screw configuration or an air piston driven by an air compressor, depicted in Figure 6.

The tracking control system could be composed of either an optical tracker or a scheduled position based on the given day of the year. Because these panels are elevated, there are additional bending stresses due to the weight of the panels. This will dictate brackets in addition to the foot components or even slats that extend the length of the array.

The limiting factor of this more glamorous design is based on the added fixed cost of the movable parts as well as the marginal costs of the added energy consumption.

Design IV — Awnings

Besides the economic barriers, solar energy awareness has been extremely limited.
One of the aims of the MIT solar panel project is to make the panels visible to everyone on campus. Consequently, the first three designs are limited to isolated roofs. A fourth design would place the panels on the south sides of buildings to resemble awnings.

The construction would be a wood/ plastic composite lumber as supporting brackets, with alternative foot junctions.


The creation of better solar panel mounting systems has been a growing development in the solar energy industry because they provide electricity during peak midday usage and can be installed on small scales.

This independence decreases the strain on electricity grids and eliminates the energy loss of distributed energy. The current efficiency conversion from

sunrays to electricity is only 12 percent, and once more research is invested in development this efficiency can increase.

If the initial cost of installing a solar panel array is decreased due to improved mounting systems, more solar packages will be purchased, increasing the market size. As the solar energy industry expands, more profits can be cycled back into R&D to increase the photovoltaic efficiencies.

The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust has given MIT facilities a grant to install solar panels on and off campus to increase the efforts of promoting solar energy. Ultimately, producing a solar panel package that is competitive to fossil fuels is a long-term goal that can only be achieved once this novel technology becomes mass-produced.

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