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Single-Axis and Dual-Axis Tracking: Advantages and Disadvantages

Finding the right tracker involves making decisions on a number of variables, from the terrain to the climate to the type of solar panels you’ll be using. Single-axis and dual-axis trackers are two styles of trackers that engineers often use on the job site. Each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need to familiarize yourself with those before making a decision for any job site.

Single-axis trackers have a single degree of flexibility that serves as an axis of rotation. This is usually aligned along a North-South path, but it is possible to align them in any cardinal direction.

Advantages of single-axis trackers include:

  • Generally a lower cost than dual-axis trackers
  • Higher reliability than dual-axis trackers
  • Higher lifespan than dual-axis trackers

Disadvantages of single-axis trackers include:

  • Lower energy output during sunny conditions when compared to dual axis trackers
  • Fewer technological advancements

On the other hand, dual-axis trackers allow for two degrees of flexibility, offering a much wider range of motion. The primary and secondary axes work together to allow these trackers to point the solar panels at specific points in the sky.

Advantages of dual-axis trackers include:

  • Higher degree of flexibility, allowing for a higher energy output on sunny days
  • Higher degree of accuracy in directional pointing

Disadvantages of dual-axis trackers include:

  • Higher mechanical complexity, making it more likely for something to go wrong
  • Lower lifespan and lower reliability
  • Unreliable performance in cloudy or overcast weather

Single-axis trackers tend to be better for companies with a lower budget or for areas with frequent cloud cover. Dual-axis trackers tend to be better for areas with high levels of direct sun. Ultimately, the right tracker comes down to the individual application. Depending on the budgetary restrictions of your client, the terrain and climate, and the required lifespan, you’ll need to make the most appropriate decision.