I’ve been going up the plateau twice a day since last Wednesday to take care of T&S’s gardens and animals. Noticed that this one property I pass has tracking solar panel racks that actually sort of work.
From the peculiar angle, these would be passive tracking racks which work with a cylinder of liquid that boils and expands through the day, then cools and contracts at night. They’ve been around a long time, and I’m impressed that they still work – especially on this windy plain. They don’t have a good reputation for durability; maybe this guy actually maintains his.
Tracking racks, like wind generators, were a lot more commonly seen around here ten years ago than they are now. They have the obvious advantage of tracking the sun across the sky, which must have seemed a much more important consideration before the Chinese got into the act and solar panel prices crashed. Now panels wholesale for $0.85/watt, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend $3,000 plus just for your rack tower. Plus they’re terribly susceptible to wind damage – which is why I’m surprised these still work at all. I’ve heard they can’t withstand any snow load at all. Plus they require frequent maintenance, which isn’t real likely on your average redneck homestead.
Pretty much everybody around here builds fixed racks, which of course can’t track the sun, and then they just throw a lot of solar panels at the problem.
Neighbor S may have taken that to extremes. But then he’s the one buying them wholesale. Less efficient per panel, perhaps. But a lot more efficient per dollar, for a much more durable and dependable solution.
I should point out that the rack above is right next to the original broken passive tracking rack.