Solar Tracking with the help of Electric Linear Actuators
Solar Tracking with the help of Electric Linear Actuators

Solar Tracking with the help of Electric Linear Actuators

As time goes by and technology continues to evolve, solar energy proves to be among the best alternatives to mineral fuels. Solar panels have become so cheap and easy to install that they can easily be implemented by any consumer, from a single household to whole industries.

Unfortunately, with the rare exception of some regions, solar power cannot be used as a single energy source. The fact that the panels gather energy only during the day is one of the most limiting factors apart from other smaller technical challenges. However, the problem can be resolved with the help of a solar actuator.

How Does Solar Tracking Help?

Many solar panel concepts and working systems are mounted to a fixed position, parallel to the ground (including such interesting cases as SolaRoad) or under a certain angle (roof-mounted panels, for instance). Unfortunately, the change in the sun’s relative position to the panel results in a less effective energy transformation.

As you might’ve guessed, the most productive interaction between the sun rays and the solar panel is when they are perpendicular. The bigger the deviation from this angle, the more energy is lost potentially. The solar tracking system allows for keeping the angle constant through the day.

Solar tracking is a simple system that incorporates electric linear actuators to make precise adjustments to the panel position. The necessary adjustments are either calculated by determining the position of the sun based on geographical location and the time of the year or simply with a photosensitive sensor matrix.

How Effective is Solar Tracking?

The amount of energy gained due to solar tracking depends on your location on the globe, the current date, weather conditions on that particular day, and a multitude of other, less impactful, parameters. However, some renewable energy enthusiasts have determined how much power the system saves depending on the deviation angle between the sunbeams and the panel perpendicular.

As it turns out, in some extreme cases (the angle deviation is more than 75 degrees), you can gain 75% more energy from the introduction of solar tracking! Of course, such circumstances are rare and last for a couple of hours max. So, for less drastic fluctuation you might be able to get 15 to 30% of additional energy. While it’s not as impressive, such a consistent gain and a relatively low price of the technology has led solar tracking to be widely accepted.

How Much Will It Cost?

The definitive answer to this question depends on the parameters of your system. For a standard system, the price for the linear actuator-based orientation system can range from $100 to $400. Although it seems rather expensive, you should remember that this is a one-time investment that will pay off relatively quickly.


Solar energy is still a developing field, so there are a lot of ideas and projects on how to make it more efficient and reliable. Solar tracking is among the simplest, yet effective solutions. No matter the size of your enterprise, you should certainly add actuators to your system.

Anna Sapiga

AZ Engineer