Chapter Experiment Solar Cell Sun Tracker

In Experiment 2 you constructed two similar solar panels and fine-tuned their voltage outputs to match each other. This experiment will build on Experiment #2, allowing you to track the sun with these "calibrated" panels. To do this you will physically mount the solar panel array to a servo. This system can be programmed to track the apparent east-to-west movement of the sun. You can do this in a window that has an unobstructed view of the sun for most of the day, or you can take your Board of Education and solar panels outdoors in good weather and use a 9-volt battery for power. Of course, the principle can be tested and demonstrated indoors with a desk lamp "sun," as we have done here.

While this experiment is neat in terms of what it can do, the question to ask is "Does it have any real significance to real-world requirements for commercial sun tracking devices?" The answer is definitely YES! Many large solar arrays use electro-mechanical sun trackers to maximize the energy producing effects of sunlight on the solar panels. Rather than maintain the solar arrays in a fixed position, a sun-tracking device always keeps the panels pointed directly at the sun, thus absorbing the maximum energy.

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