Solar Power System update

It has been a while since I updated my solar power system progress so here is a brief update.  I’m still making room in the garage to build a “Solar Wall” to hold all of the system and upgrade components.  This project includes organizing my new 60 foot steel arch building that my sons and I built last summer.

The “Tracker Farm” now has three almost complete trackers.  Tracker #1 has 12 KC120 panels, tracker #2 has 10 KC130 panels and tracker #3 has just 8 for now.  My Apollo T-80 charge controller is being “fed” with 6 panel arrays.  The mount on tracker #1 is much heavier duty than the others so I was able to fit 12 panels on it.  I settled on 10 for the rest which makes for a slight 6 panel array problem that I solved by combining panels on different trackers to make six panel arrays.  Tracker #2 has on 6 panel array and 4 left over so I will have 10 on tracker #3 eventually but only 8 now.  Tracker #3 then has one 6 panel array and 2 left over that I have temporally combined with tracker #2’s left over 4 to make a six panel array.  When I install tracker #4 it will have 10 panels and I will put two more on tracker #3.  What this boils down to is three 10 panel trackers or 30 panels broken down into 5 six panel arrays.

Here are the present arrays, left to right, tracker #3 is waiting for two more KC-130’s.  My report of present power production is as follows. 10AM on a full sun day the trackers are making in July 48 amps and the roof tops are making 28 amps.  There are 3780 watts on the trackers right now and 4080 watts on the roof.  At 5PM the trackers are making 50 amps and the roof tops are at 12A.  After 5PM the trackers continue to make diminishing power while the sun is directly west leaving the roof tops in the shade at less than 3 amps from reflected daylight.

My conclusion is as yours should be, keeping the PV Panels as close to 90 degrees to the sun makes for a LOT of extra power.  The mainstream nay-sayers tell you it’s more economical to just install more PV Panels on a fixed mount than to track.  To this I say phfsssssssst.


1) The first & foremost, MORE POWER!

2) Easier to discover dirt, bird droppings and clean the panels.

3) Easier to take down for hurricanes. (Florida)

4) Easier to maintain.

5) They provide great shade, a few lawn chairs underneath, a cold drink…

6)  You get to watch them, look at them, talk to people about them and enjoy them!


1) Easier to run into with things like head, lawn tractor, car.

2) Easier for thieves and Vandals to get to them. (makes video cameras necessary in my case)

3) Cost.  They cost more for the hardware unless you build them yourself like I did. I used old C-Band satellite dish mounts.

5PM UPDATE for 07/09/2008:

At 5PM in full sun, blue sky and 88 degrees the T-80 MPPT charge controller on the trackers was showing 52 amps solid from 3780 watts.  The Trace C40 non-MPPT controller on the rooftop arrays was showing just 28 amps solid from 4080 watts. I rest my case.


3 Responses to “Solar Power System update”

  1. chef putz Says:

    In all the years I`ve known you,I`m still amazed by your smarts.

  2. ……I see you have noticed a boost in amperage for the Apollo….That is now our prefered controller….We just got 120mph wind loading for our Zome works trackers. Our discover house is running on Zantrex inverters (11kw) and sells more power to Progress than it buys. It looks like you are getting alot of loss on your wire run …….You might try raising your string voltage up to 90vdc-105vdc for the Apollo….good luck….AL

  3. wizbandit Says:

    Actually, the tracking arrays are 6 panel arrays for 21.7voc x 6 makes 130.2v on about 150 feet of #8 thhn 19 strand. The loss is less than 2% and this setup works very well. The roof-top arrays are still 4 panel for now. My goal is to move as much as I can to the tracker farm. I have three more trackers in the works.

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