Project Title

Solar Tracker

Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Mechanical Engineering Technology

Committee Chair

Dr. Craig Johnson

Second Committee Member

Professor Roger Beardsley

Third Committee Member

Professor Charles Pringle

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to find how to maximize the amount of time that the solar panels receive direct sunlight or the nearest possible sunlight angles. The solar tracker is a device that can change the position of solar panels in both vertical and horizontal direction to increase solar energy absorption. The device uses a gear motor to drive the shaft that is fixed to the solar panel, so the solar panel can rotate in vertical direction. Based on the vertical sun position in Ellensburg, 85o E in the morning, 180o S in the noon, and 276o W in the evening. The motor, which is controlled by Arduino control chip will change the position of solar panel with a fixed angle to increase to amount of time solar panel faces direct sunlight. At the end of the day, Arduino control chip will control the motor to drive the solar panel back to the original position that will face the incoming morning sunlight for next day. Moreover, the horizontal direction of the solar panel faces have to change by hand since it only change a small angle each month. The testing result showed the panel to be perpendicular (90o) to incoming sunlight, with 2o deviation. This device increased the energy absorption by 20%.

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