Heliomotion solar tracker questions
The tracker has an integrated GPS module used to determine the local time, date, latitude and longitude. Using this information the tracker calculates the sun’s position in the sky in order to follow it.
Solar tracking increases energy yield by 30-60% per year, compared with a stationary panel facing south with an ideal tilt. The energy increase depends on the latitude where the installation is located, from +25% at the northern equinox to +60% in Scandinavia. The extra energy is generated in the morning and in the evening which matches the consumption curve of a typical household much more efficiently than a static system which peaks at solar noon – often when everyone is out of the house.
The solar tracker can be powered from any constant 24 VDC power source, either using the included 24 VDC power adapter or by connecting it to a 24 V battery bank. The permitted input voltage range is 10-29 VDC. Average power consumption is 0.4 watt.
The tracker and solar panels are engineered to withstand high wind loads and survive wind speeds up to 30 metres per second – equivalent to 67 miles per hour. Should you expect winds in excess of this, it is recommended that you use the provided extension rod to tilt the panels horizontally. This will protect the installation until the storm passes, as this is the optimum position for the installation to resist high wind loads.
In a snowy climate, the foundation column should be at least 1 metre above ground level to prevent the tracker from getting stuck in the snow during winter. As the panels are at a steep angle in the tracker’s morning and evening positions, most snow falls off the unit and there is usually no need to remove the snow manually. As an added safety feature, the tracker will pause tracking if it is unable to move, for example due to excessive snow or vegetation blocking its path.
Yes. Keep in mind that in dry regions it may be necessary to wash the panels every couple of months to prevent dust and sand from building up on the panels. In regions with rain, the solar panels are typically self-cleaning and do not require additional attention.
Power plant system questions
The Heliomotion tracker is designed to last for as long as the panels last, typically 25-40 years. We give a 3 year warranty to provide free replacement parts. The warranty appears on the last page of the manual.
The panels have a 10 year guarantee on materials and workmanship, and a 95% output guarantee for the first 5 years and 87% up to 25 years thereafter.
We recommend the power plant is placed within 100 meters of where the power will be used. The cable size can be adjusted to keep transmission losses low between the power plant and the house. A cable with 2.5mm2 thick wires is suitable for distances up to 50 meters, whereas a cable with 6mm2 thick wires is recommended for longer distances.
Typically, you want to use a grid-tied system if utility power is available, because it has a lower cost and it allows you to automatically utilize 100% of your produced electricity. The surplus electricity not consumed by your household will be sold to the grid.
Battery-tied system are most often used for off-grid installations when there is no access to utility power. They can also provide backup power during blackouts and allow a greater proportion of generated solar energy to be consumed within the household. When considering a battery-tied system it’s important to keep in mind that generated solar energy that is not consumed will be discarded when the batteries are full. Therefore, to make full use of a battery-tied solar system it should be paired with reoccurring daily loads, such as a heat pump or an electric vehicle.
For off-grid cottages, a 5 kWh battery bank (4 x 12V 110Ah) is the recommended minimum when used together with a PV-650. The PV-1300 should be paired with 10kWh and the PV-2000 with 15 kWh. This allows you to store up to a full day’s solar energy production for use during nights and cloudy days. Additional battery capacity allows for a greater buffer during rainy days.
Typically, you should size your battery system so that you on average days do not consume more than 30-50% of your battery capacity before the batteries are recharged.
The max capacity of a battery permanently decreases slightly after each charge/discharge cycle. The deeper the discharge cycle goes the more the capacity decreases. To get a good relation between the size of your battery array and the energy stored during its lifetime.
We recommend deep cycle GEL batteries for solar battery systems. They are maintenance free, can be used indoors, have a long design life, and are made to withstand deep discharge cycles. Deep Cycle GEL batteries generally have better cycle capacity and longer service life than deep cycle AGM batteries or flooded batteries, both under float and cycling conditions.
The 1-phase grid-tied inverter Sunny Boy 1.5 is fanless and makes virtually no noise. The 3-phase grid-tied inverter Symo 3.0-3-M has fans that increase progressively with greater power generation, peaking at 58 dB.
The battery-tied solar stations have fans which kick in progressively as the inverter load increases, so it should be placed somewhere where the sound doesn’t bother anyone, such as a garage, a shed or a cabinet.
The solar tracker itself is virtually silent. Listening carefully right next to the tracker, it makes the sound of a distant cicada every 7 minutes or so when it updates its position.
Yes. In addition to the PV-series we provide the TC-1000 and TC-2000 (TC for thermal collector), which include the tracker as well as the thermal collector. To this we also add the complete pump system including everything you need: the circulation pump, air vent, pressure relief valve, refill valve, pressure gauges, temperature sensor, flow sensor, pump regulator (Resol CS Plus) and expansion vessel.
The tracker comes with an integrated safety feature for the thermal collector: if the temperature in the heat transfer liquid exceeds a set value (for example if nobody is tapping any warm water and the whole system keeps getting hotter) the tracker will turn away from the sun to prevent the collector from overheating. After the system has cooled down sufficiently the tracker will return to following the sun.
When you buy a Heliomotion you have the choice to configure your own solar package according to your needs.
We sell packages for on-grid installations as well as off-grid installations complete with batteries and charger/inverter solar stations. We also sell Heliomotions equipped with thermal solar collectors, complete with pump systems, regulators and controllers.
Some customers prefer to use inverters and other equipment from local suppliers, but in most cases our customers buy the complete packages from us, knowing that we have selected and optimized all components to fit well together. On our product page we show different options and packages.
We advise against installing the Heliomotion on a roof. A free standing unit on the ground is much easier to install and service.
This depends on whether you have a grid-tied or battery-tied inverter. A grid-tied solar inverter feeds power to the grid and so during a blackout the production is halted until power is restored. A battery-tied solar inverter works independently of the grid and so it will continue to supply power to connected loads even during a blackout.
A battery-tied inverter creates its own local power grid which is independent from the utility’s grid. To make use of this power an electrician needs to connect the power output from the inverter either to new power outlets or to existing power outlets through the building’s main fuse box. Keep in mind that the 1-phase VAC generated by a battery-tied inverter is not synchronized to the utility grid and so cannot be used in combination with the utility grid to power any 3-phase loads.
The Victron Deep-cycle GEL batteries have a float design life of 12 years. Each discharge/charge cycle permanently decreases the max capacity of the battery slightly, more so the deeper the cycles go.
A GEL battery loses one service life (20% of its max capacity) after either 1) 500 cycles 80% deep, 750 cycles 50% deep, or 1800 cycles 30% deep. Once the capacity of the battery array is deemed no longer sufficient (typically after two service lifetimes) it is time to replace the batteries.
It is important not to leave batteries very discharged as this causes them to lose max capacity more quickly.