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Solar Carports – Do They Make Sense For You?

Solar Carports – Do They Make Sense For You?

As the adoption of solar technologies becomes more widely accepted, homeowners and businesses are finding new and innovative ways to integrate solar power production into their properties.  One of the newest ideas is the construction of solar carports and solar canopies.  This new innovation has allowed for solar production in already existing applications as well as providing tremendous opportunity for future construction projects.  While a typical carport or canopy provides value in simple shading it is still a one-dimensional benefit that is missing a major opportunity.  This innovation partnered with lower prices industry wide is making solar carports and solar canopies a reality.

What is a Solar Carport?

Solar carports are innovative and highly engineered, but you see versions of them almost everywhere and do not realize it.  If you have ever parked under an awning while shopping, you have parked under an opportunity for a solar carport.  If you have a shaded parking spot at work, you park under an opportunity for a solar carport.  Many homeowners even use carports currently to shade and protect their vehicles.

A solar carport is essentially a static, rigid frame that is designed to hold solar panels and connect to the power grid.  The static nature of most solar carports make them highly dependable and will last for years and years with minimum maintenance, as compared to ground mounted solutions.  Ground mounted solar arrays are quite similar to solar carports in the fact that they both attach to the earth, and they both utilize solar panels that have been angled to maximize production.

One major difference however lies in the land usage.  Ground mounted systems are primarily 3-7 feet tall which makes it hard to use the land beneath it for anything useful.  Solar carports can generate the same amount of power while providing shade for vehicles or coverings.  The land beneath the solar carports and solar canopies is still usable since it has been designed and engineered to be as such.

Benefits of Solar Carports

Use What Is Already There

There are several benefits for the use of solar carports compared to other solutions.  First and foremost is the addition of power generation to an already existing need.  Carports, awnings, and canopies have already existed in standard construction from the beginning of time, and will always be a tool that architects use for various purposes.  Adding the ability to generate electricity from the same feature is easily a benefit.

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

Power generation is really the tip of the iceberg of benefits of installing a solar carport or solar canopy.  As the electricity being produced is processed either by the power supplier or used by the producer, there is significant money being saved or credited to the owner of the solar carport.  In many cases and in many states, incentives already exist for the construction of solar carports.  This means that if your company is looking to build a carport, a solar solution will save you money and continue to earn you credit during the lifespan of the product, as compared to a standard carport that is built and just need to be maintained.

Always Throwing Shade

The obvious benefit to any carport is the shading and coverage for rain or inclement weather.  Solar carports and solar canopies will achieve the exact same coverage with the added bonus of electrical power generation.  It also opens the opportunity to Electrical Vehicle (EV) owners to have access to a charging station that is powered by the solar carport array.  These charging stations are very low profile and are a significant fringe benefit to any employee.

Are Solar Carports Right For You?

In the engineering and developing of solar projects, the question often arises “Is this right for me?”.  In the case of solar carports the answer will always be YES.  Since each structure is designed specifically for use on site, they can be designed in any configuration to meet the needs of the customer.  Sizing, placement and length can all be adjusted to fit each site specific project and maximize production within the project.  The fact that land usage is not an issue because you are still using the land underneath makes solar carports one of the next great opportunities in alternative energies.

Want to Learn More?

Sun Action Trackers is a manufacturer of the most affordable solar carports and solar canopy solutions in the industry.  If you would like to learn more about how we can help you reach your alternative energy goals, please CONTACT US today for more information.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Community, components, Products, solar canopies, solar carports, solar system benefits, 0 comments
Sun Action Trackers Named to Top Solar Tracker Providers Worldwide

Sun Action Trackers Named to Top Solar Tracker Providers Worldwide

In a recent set of reports on the Global PV Tracker marketplace, Sun Action Trackers was named as a key player in the Dual Axis Solar Tracker and Single Axis Solar Tracker markets.

The first report titled “Global Dual Axis Solar Tracker Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast” places Sun Action Trackers among the elite in the space, siting that in the past year the release of our DualTrack Dual Axis Solar Tracker lineup has opened a gap in the market since there is no other solution available that is able to support 24 panels.  Our PST-2AL Dual Axis Solar Tracker holds up to 42 – 72 cell solar panels, with other Dual Axis Solar Trackers holding 12 panels, there was no solution on the market to meet the need in the middle.  The report also highlights Sun Action Trackers as the leader in Utility and Commercial/Industrial installations in North America.

The second report is titled “Global PV Trackers Market Necessity, Current Trends and Future Growth 2018-2023“.  In this report, Sun Action Trackers is noted as a key player in both the Dual Axis Solar Tracker and Single Axis Solar Tracker markets.  The report also highlights the growing need for solar tracking technology in the future due to land usage restraints as well as the increased energy produced by tracking the sun.

We at Sun Action Trackers take great pride in our products and service in the Solar industry and we are so pleased to remain as one of the true innovators in our chosen space.  If you have any questions regarding our products or services, please feel free to CONTACT US today for more information.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Community, components, Dual Axis Tracker, home news, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, single axis solar tracker, solar events, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments

Summer Heat Records Reach Pricing Maximum in Texas

The oppressive heat of a summer in Texas is hard to deny, but in that oppression lies great opportunity for solar production.  As the heat begins to rise, wind begins to slow making solar much more important to renewable initiatives across the state.

In the past two weeks, ERCOT has reported record breaking energy demands state wide matching the record breaking temperatures.  In the past week, they have set a new record peak energy demand of 5080 MW and with higher temperatures expected, that record could be easily broken as well.

This increased demand has driven prices up for solar energy to the maximum legal price statewide of $9.00/kWH (disregarding contractual Power Purchase Agreements) during midday peak pricing hours.

The rise in demand and pricing makes Texas a prime location for your solar project.  It is currently the 7th overall state of solar power installed, while it is the 4th largest market in 2017.  Texas also touts a heavily upgraded transmission system throughout the state.

Sun Action Trackers is proud to have installed over 400mW of Dual Axis Trackers which adds up to over 30,000 trackers statewide.  As demands peak, our Dual Axis Trackers are increasing production up to 40% through our patented Real Time Sensing, adding additional value to each of our projects in Texas.

If you would like to learn more about our Dual Axis Solar Trackers or our projects in Texas, please CONTACT US for more information.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Actuator, Community, components, Dual Axis Tracker, home news, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, 0 comments
Sun Action Trackers to Exhibit at Solar Power Texas

Sun Action Trackers to Exhibit at Solar Power Texas

Visit us in Booth 114 in Austin!

This week in Austin, Solar Power Texas will be taking place and Sun Action Trackers will be exhibiting our ALL NEW DualTrack product line focused on residential use.  Our new Dual Axis Residential Trackers are designed specifically for residential use with a smaller footprint and our patented Real Time Sensing and MAC Steel.

Solar Power Texas provides solar professionals the opportunity to get exclusive updates, network with other solar pros and to regional insights found nowhere else.  The event will host over 400 attendees and various influential figures of the solar community.  The event will be hosted at the Hyatt Regengy Lost Pines Resort & Spa tomorrow and Thursday.  We hope to see you there!

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in components, Press Coverage, Products, Residential Solar Trackers, solar events, solar tracking, staff team, 0 comments
Residential Solar Trackers by Sun Action Trackers

Residential Solar Trackers by Sun Action Trackers

Welcome to the DualTrack lineup of Dual Axis Solar Trackers

  Sun Action Trackers is proud to announce the DualTrack 16 and the DualTrack 24 Dual Axis Solar Trackers now available for residential use.  These residential solar trackers have been specifically engineered to meet the needs of homeowners all over the world and are ready to be shipped now!  Each DualTrack installation will still highlight our Real Time Sensing and MAC Steel and will generate up to 40% more power per day compared to rooftop systems.

The Most Versatile Options Available

Our DualTrack products have been built in 16, 20, and 24 panel arrays but can also be modified to fit any reasonable sized array up to 42 panels.  Our dual axis solar trackers have also been designed to accept EITHER 72 OR 60 CELL SOLAR PANELS.  This added flexibility insures that the DualTrack lineup can meet the needs of nearly any homesite.

Easy Installation and Setup

  The DualTrack product line was designed to optimize efficiency and ease of use to installers and owners alike.  Since the DualTrack products highlight Real Time Sensing, there is no calibration needed upon completion.  Once the system is turned on, it tracks to the sun immediately and continues for the lifetime of the solar tracker.  Each system includes racking, down post, control box, slew drive, actuator, and bolt cage for ground mounting.  Systems can be assembled in a day (once bolt cage is set), and can be installed with the use of a backhoe.

Learn More About the Most Versatile Solar Tracker Around

Our team would love to speak with you regarding how the DualTrack Dual Axis Solar Trackers can change the way you are thinking about residential solar installations.  Please feel free to CONTACT US for more information today!

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Actuator, Community, components, control box, Dual Axis Tracker, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, slew drive, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
Carefree Operations and Maintenance – Part 2 – Less Is More

Carefree Operations and Maintenance – Part 2 – Less Is More

Carefree Operations and Maintenance - Part 2 - Less is More

By Sun Action Trackers

In Part 1 of our Carefree Operations and Maintenance series, we discussed Land O&M and various solutions to lower costs and minimize financial risk, while maintaining an “eco-friendly” approach.  In Part 2 of our series, we will be discussing the complexity of system designs and how they affect your overall O&M costs over time.  There are a wide variety of issues to take into account when evaluating O&M costs during the lifecycle of your project.  These issues could include such variables as system design, environmental variables and materials used in the project.  In this article we will be focusing on System Design.

Keep it Simple Solar (KISS)

In previous articles, we have mentioned this approach which we have found to be most effective when tackling O&M costs over time.  By focusing on hyper-simple design, O&M costs of systems designed by major manufacturers are getting lower and lower as systems become more refined and efficient.  Though approaches vary widely, there are a number of innovative designs and options for your project.  Sun Action Trackers’ PST-1AX6 Single Axis Solar Tracking solution highlights a number of innovative additions to lower O&M costs initially and for the lifecycle of the project.

Linked vs. Independent Row Designs

Linked Row Solar Arrays or “centralized tracker designs” move multiple rows of solar trackers with a single motor or actuator, whereas Independent Row or “decentralized tracker designs” require 1 motor or actuator per row.  Though the decentralized tracker designs offer some flexibility for land usage, the centralized tracker systems are much more efficient with 25% of the moving parts than its counterpart.  Less moving parts lowers the potential for system failures, while also requiring less time to maintain the system overall.  In many cases, linked row systems will also require “leveling” of each row to allow the systems to work.  The Sun Action Trackers’ PST-1AX6 single axis solar tracker however does not require grading or leveling to make our system work properly.

Figure A

Replaceable Parts

Linked row and independent row systems also differ greatly in the number of motors that are needed to make the entire system.  Figure A highlights an 800Mw project using 8 actuators to run the entire system vs. 28 motors on the independent system as each row requires its own powered motor.   Each row also requires its own control box and sensor opposed to the linked row system that uses 1 control box and sensor for every 6 rows. This means a significant increase of energy usage to use the tracker system, and more moving parts to replace and fix moving down the road.  As another question, Which do you think would require more operations and maintenance attention?  1 actuator and 1 sensor, or 6 motors and 6 sensors?

Figure B

Ground Mounting

Even before tracker construction can begin, the pilings must be poured and secured before steel construction can begin.  Figure B illustrates linked row systems vs. independent row systems.  As you can see, the linked row system only requires 48 pilings per 100 Kw compared to 56 for the independent row system.  This makes a difference in future foundation maintenance and installation time.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to single axis solar tracking: Simple is King.  By limiting replaceable parts that could potentially fail during design and engineering, you will ultimately lower your Operations and Maintenance costs across the board.  Minimizing points of failure is going to lead to a system that consumes less energy thus maximizing total production of the system.  If you want to make your project more efficient, KEEP IT SIMPLE SOLAR.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Actuator, component, components, control box, Products, real time sensor, single axis solar tracker, solar tracking, 0 comments
Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

By Sun Action Trackers

Fixed Tilt Solar Solutions

Fixed tilt, or Non-tracking systems have long since been around and have until recently been the standard installation choice for developers and EPCs alike.  Many adopted this choice due to the cost difference in tracking solutions vs. fixed tilt solutions and the profitability of the installation consequently.  Fixed tilt systems offer some installation advantages, as they can be used in more difficult/ challenging  terrain. Historically, fixed tilt systems are also more adaptable to harsher environments due to lack of moving parts.

Solar Tracking Solutions

Tracking solutions for solar energy collection started to be introduced since the inception of solar, but much like other areas of alternative energy production, the technology was highly expensive and sometimes unreliable.  In comparison to the fixed axis solutions, tracking will produce up to 20%-45% more energy than its non-tracked counterparts, while now finally making sense financially due to cost reductions and rising adoption rates of the technology. Tracked solutions also offer a reduction in D/C capacity which allows for a reduction in BOS, Modules, and additional racking, getting better performance than their fixed counterparts.  In a late 2016 report, GTM Research estimates that tracking solutions will grow from roughly 20% this year to nearly 50% by 2021.  Tracking solutions continue to evolve as well into two sub categories:

Single Axis Tracking

As the name implies, this is a tracking solution with a single hinged axis to track the sun East to West.  This option requires a North-South alignment to maximize the sun’s energy throughout the day.  Compared to a fixed tilt system, there have been various increases shown ranging from 17-23% depending on the latitude and irradiance of the system.

Dual Axis Tracking

Though Dual Axis tracking has been around essentially as long as its Single Axis relative, it has been often overlooked as the most valuable of options when dealing with utility grade projects.  The Alamo Projects in Texas are a great example of this, as there are over 40,000 Dual Axis Trackers in operation today.  This large-scale adoption has led to expansive growth in this market as well, with suited applications in more diverse weather conditions.

In Closing

Fixed tilt and Tracking solutions will both have a place in solar energy generation in the future.  As the technology advances and performance increases, tracking solutions will become the standard for solar energy generation due to higher efficiency and a justifiable cost increase.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our second installment of Simplicity in Solar.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to CONTACT US today for more information on our Solar Energy Tracking Solutions.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting, 0 comments
A Personal View : Simplicity in Solar

A Personal View : Simplicity in Solar

A Personal View: Simplicity in Solar

By Daniel Wilson, Senior Electrical Engineer at Sun Action Trackers

When I was younger and pondering the idea of going to school for engineering, I asked a very successful engineer what I should expect to learn from studying engineering at university. I expected something along the line of “you will be able to fix cars after you graduate” or “you will be better at math”. Instead he told me that I would see the world through a new set of eyes. It wasn’t until I graduated university that I understood what he meant. With fresh new eyes, I now saw the world through the laws of physics, cause/effect and that the most robust solutions are usually the simplest. A simple solution is by no means inferior, rather it simply accomplishes the same task as a complex solution, but in a more efficient way.

At Sun Action Trackers, we know that simplicity in PV tracker design is essential, as these systems will be operating continuously, outdoors for 25+ years. Our Single and Dual Axis trackers all utilize our patented Real-Time Sensor technology that searches the sky for the maximum point of irradiance. Why blindly follow the sun with a program that doesn’t even consider the fact that clouds are between the tracker and the sun, when you could just simply rotate where the energy is actually at? Real-Time sensing is simpler, gives you higher generation, and doesn’t ever need to be calibrated. Trackers have to move, so some type of bearing is integral to the system. Once again, in the spirit of making things simple through ingenuity, we have designed flexible bearings that can account for post misalignment and require zero O&M greasing for the entire life of the project.

All of our trackers utilize low voltage DC motors that are readily available. I have worked for a tracking company that uses hydraulic actuation instead, and I don’t miss having to search for pin-hole leaks on 100ft. long cables, praying that the leak isn’t occurring underground if I can’t find it the first pass. I also don’t miss maintaining pumps, changing the oil, replacing clogged pistons, lines that were never bled properly, or wildlife that somehow makes its way through the an 8ft. fence just to chew on the hydraulic lines. Our Single Axis tracker houses 4x more modules than the leading competitor. This means 4x less control boxes, sensors and motors that need to be maintained over the course of 25+ years. Additionally, our UL3703 certified Single Axis tracker can electrically bond over 320 modules within its structure so that you have 4x less grounding electrodes to worry about installing than with the leading 80-module tracker.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Actuator, component, components, Products, real time sensor, slew drive, solar system benefits, solar tracking, staff team, 0 comments