A solar power panel, complete with its functioning tracking system, can move along the position of the sun. However, a sequence of events takes place leading to the motion of the motors which result in the tilting of solar panel in the correct position where maximum power from the sun can be generated. The process begins with the storage batteries charging the Arduino Uno (a microcontroller) and the motor. The sensors then send the signal to the Arduino Uno. Upon receiving the signals from the sensors, the Arduino Uno then process it and send to the motors. Depending on the nature of the signals originating from the sensors, the motors will then move toward the position of the sun. The motion of the motor triggers a mechanism which leads to the turning of the solar panel. When the solar panel faces the position of the sun where the rays of the sun strike the solar panel perpendicularly, the solar panel will be in a position to receive optimum solar energy which it then convert to electricity. The solar energy is then used to charge the storage batteries.
In order to position the solar panel at an ideal position, the tracker needs to sense the suns location at any particular time. Sensors are useful in a tracking system for locating the position of the sun and positioning of the solar panel at an angle where it can absorb the maximum amount of solar energy falling on it. Light sensing can be achieved by using two devices: diodes and resistors (Knight, 1990).
The diodes in the tracking system play a significant role. The diodes used in the tracking system are known as photodiodes. Photodiodes are light dependent diodes. They only work when light falls on them. As such, the diodes only respond to the optical input from the solar radiation. The diodes are encased in a clear material (water clear epoxy), and the diodes are sensitive to not only visible radiation but also infrared radiation. The construction of the diodes used is designed in such a way that the active area is large, and the casing is made flat to give it a high sensitivity at a wide viewing angle. The photodiodes can work in two ways: reverse bias or zero bias. In the zero bias mode, light falling on the diode results in a voltage drop across it and this lead to the flow of a current in the forward direction (Rajagopal, 2015). In the reverse biased mode, the diode has extremely high resistance and hardly any current flows. However, the resistance is reduced when the light of an appropriate frequency shines on the diode junction (Hunsperger, 2009). Thus, the photodiode in a reverse bias mode can be employed as a detector for monitoring current flow through it. Circuits based on reverse bias are light-sensitive than forward bias diodes.
The resistors in a tracking system also play a key role. However, the type of resistors used is known as a photoconductor or light dependent resistors (LDR). If light falling on the LDR is of sufficient frequency, the photons absorbed by the device gives energy to the electrons which can then jump into the conduction band. The resulting free electrons generated conducts electricity thus lowering resistance (Trager, 2012). This makes LDRs useful in circuits designed for the purposes of light sensing. Although an LDR can have as high resistance as 10 mega ohms, the resistance can fall drastically when light falls on it. Usually, LDRs used in light sensing have high resistance in the dark and low resistance in light. LDRs used in light sensing are connected to an Arduino Uno (microcontroller). However, the response is not linear, and that is why software calibration is necessary.
Hunsperger, R.G. (2009). Integrated Optics: Theory and Technology (5th ed.). Newark, DE: Springer
Knight, S.A. (1990). Electronics 3. Oxford: Heinemann
Rajagopal, K. (2015). Engineering Physics (3rd ed.). New Delhi: PHI Learning.
Trager, F. (2012). Handbook of Lasers and Optics (2nd ed.). London: Springer-Verlag.
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