Solar panels are the future of renewables. With the technology improving every day, a new question arises, ‘Should you buy new panels with the newer tech?’ We believe doing so will generate a lot of waste. So what if existing solar panels could be improved?
After tons of brainstorming we got our answer, ‘SolarUP’
What it does
We aimed to develop a smart exoskeleton that could be customized for any existing panel and maximize solar output. The exoskeleton is going to be equipped with sensors and modules to give real-time data of the panel to the user. Accumulated dust is a major problem for reduced solar panel outputs, hence we developed a cleaning mechanism attached to the structure. Axis tracking panels have better results, so using servo motors, we believe we can transform every panel to reach its maximum potential.
How we built it
We designed the exoskeleton using Fusion 360 which is a CAD software. For the electronics of our prototype, we planned to use a 6V Solar panel with a voltage sensor module and an INA169 current sensor module. Using LEDs in series and parallel configurations as the load, with an Arduino Uno to acquire data for processing.
Challenges we ran into
Given the COVID times, even with all our hard work, an unprecedented lockdown put our plans on hold. We could not get the solar panel and hence we could not test our code for axis tracking and data analysis algorithm.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of the problem we were able to identify and the way we were able to come up with a solution using very common problems with any solar panel. Dust collection and immobility is a common issue and even though it sounds like a relatively unimportant issue, there is a lot of untapped potential solar potential.
What we learned
We learnt to come up with proper mechanisms for different functionalities of the exoskeleton. Organise code and about solar energy.
What's next for SolarUP
We plan to test our code as soon as we can get our hands on a solar panel and start working on our dashboard to make it more user friendly anf=d to address problems like overheating.