How much do solar trackers add to the cost of a solar system

I’ve read a solar tracker (a device that alters the angle of your solar panels so they are always facing the sun) can increase the efficiency of panels by 30%. Fine and good, but online they seem to be pretty expensive for something that is nothing more than a metal pole with some gears to make it slowly move over the course of a day.

So if you need 6kw of panels without a tracker, but only need 4-5kw of panels with a tracker, does the tracker make economical sense? Some of the bigger ones cost many thousands of dollars, which seems like it would negate the savings of having fewer solar panels.

Has anyone looked into them? What conclusion did you come to?

Generally, trackers aren’t worth it for home use.
They are fragile and failure-prone, and when they get stuck, you are back to a fixed position.

For industrial power generation, where you have a dedicated maintenance staff, they make sense.

Most of your up-front cost for a new solar system is for the star at the center and an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone…so I wouldn’t think that a solar tracker would add much to your initial outlay. It’s probably a good idea in any case so you don’t lose track of where your solar system is in the galaxy. :smiley:


Pulsars as GPS

**How much do solar trackers add to the cost of a solar system

That sounds like a question you’d ask Slartibartfarst in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or the Planet Builder in Robert Sheckley’s Dimension of Miracles*. The short answer is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” You’d be better off just buying a couple of asteroids and having them circle each other under mutual gravitational attraction.
*It also reminds me of that wonderful sign that used to be in the old Hayden Planetarium in New York – “To Solar System and Rest Rooms”

I don’t have a good cost benefit analysis to show you but IME the economics are tenuous for single-axis and bad for two-axis, but YMMV. Modules are getting cheaper and you need more space if you’re tracking.

These folks are working on pneumatic trackers and tell me they’re much cheaper but wouldn’t give me numbers.

“You know the fjords in Norway? I got a prize for creating those, you know.”

No one has known the location of Magrathea (well, other than my cat Magrathea Ananke) for millions of years. The economy of the galaxy hasn’t recovered to levels that can afford their services.