Following the disastrous events in Indonesia and Puerto Rico, we wanted to contribute to the recovery efforts for emergency response teams. Due to the magnitude of the natural disasters we were focusing on, there was a need for a stand alone device that was efficient and portable, with minimal setup required. Most solar panels in solar farms and domestic homes are static which creates a problem when the sun moves across the sky. This means the solar panel would operate near its max efficiency only a few hours of the day while dropping in efficiency for the remainder when the sun isn’t directly over the panel’s normal vector. An obvious solution is for the solar panel to track the sun. However, the current products on the market capable of sun tracking are expensive and cost thousands of dollars, making them not applicable to disaster recovery efforts. Our solution is to make a sun tracking solar panel housing that is fairly inexpensive by making its components modular and easily repairable. If any component breaks, only that component needs to be replaced instead of the whole system like the other products on the market. What also differentiates our product from others is that because it is modular, the entire unit can be taken apart and reinstalled quickly, resulting in high portability. The affordable cost, ease of installability, and its automated software makes it an ideal product for the average laymen with no expertise in this subject to install quickly in disaster zones. With its availability and cheap pricing, we aim to bring clean electricity to any area, be it in cities or rural areas where solar energy improves the quality of life to disaster victims.
What it does
We want to redesign the housing and housing interface between solar panel and its housing so that it can effectively track the sun and align itself to receive the maximum intensity of the sun. This would provide a much longer window of time where the panel is operating in more optimal conditions, thus increasing its average efficiency and power generation.
How we built it
This can be done through using servos as actuators to provide a 2-axis degree of freedom for the solar panel to rotate around. The actuators would be controlled by microcontrollers which in turn reads sensory inputs from applications such as a light or infrared sensor.