Title

Sunplanter

Date of Award

6-9-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Publisher

Santa Clara: Santa Clara University, 2015.

First Advisor

Timothy Hight

Abstract

Although the cost of solar technology has been reduced by nearly seventy percent in the last ten years, the cost of implementing solar panels for residential and commercial use has remained stagnant. Due to the lack of affordable, easily installable solar panel systems on residential properties, the goal of our Senior Design Project is to design a stand-alone solar tracking structure. Since the system is stand-alone, it can be easily implemented on a wide range of properties in most areas of California. Our design for the support of the solar tracking system is a two-pole structure, with a wide base under each pole to eliminate the need for a deep foundation. An electric gearmotor system will drive the rotational motion of the solar tracking function, due to its high power output and relatively affordable cost. A hydraulic damping and blocking system was incorporated to precisely control rotational motion. After testing the system for both tracking and static operation, an 11.4% increase power production was observed. Sunplanter solar tracking systems have the potential to provide a financially viable investment opportunity for customers while having a positive impact on the environment.

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