6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Smart Tracker Software

ByLance T. Lee

Aug 16, 2022

With technical improvements and better installation techniques making trackers more robust and adaptable, the next stage of tracker evolution will focus on controls and software.

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Smart Tracker Software

Article by | TERRASMART

Solar trackers have grown exponentially over the past decade, overtaking fixed-tilt systems in most markets. The benefits are obvious: trackers can generate more electricity (up to 35% more when paired with bifacial modules), resulting in increased production, lower levelized energy cost and higher income for your solar plant. Trackers are also optimized for floor use because they take up almost the same amount of space as fixed-tilt systems but produce more power.

With technical improvements and better installation techniques making trackers more robust and adaptable, the next stage of tracker evolution will focus on controls and software. For developers and asset owners, leveraging the right tracking software is key to increasing energy production, optimizing tracking performance, and protecting your assets from extreme weather conditions.

But what constitutes “good” tracking software? What features to look for and which are best suited for your site? Here are some key considerations:

  • Does the tracking software have advanced machine learning features that help increase energy production?

    Trackers are dynamic systems, so the software that powers them must be adaptable to changes. Smart tracking software should have adaptive machine learning that can process current and historical data; using it to predict where rows should be at different times of day, then optimizing module positions accordingly so they get maximum exposure to sunlight. Machine learning should also indicate when a line is not following its normal path, alerting you quickly to any problems, while backtracking algorithms can determine when a line is shaded from east to west and position signs to avoid to shade adjacent lines.

  • Are you able to monitor your assets in real time?

    Rather than waiting for problems to arise, real-time monitoring gives you insight into your sites’ consistent performance. This ensures that you are immediately alerted to issues as they arise and can fix them before they affect site performance. Well-designed software should have a simple dashboard and features like a project map to give you a quick overview of your sites across multiple devices.

  • Does your tracking software come with a smart weather API?

    Most tracking systems have on-site weather stations that are equipped with sensors, which instruct sites to pull over whenever wind and snow thresholds are crossed. Instead of waiting for bad weather to wreak havoc on your sites, look for software integrated with the Smart Weather API that can proactively tidy up sites in anticipation of adverse weather events, reducing the risk of asset damage.

  • Can you access sites remotely for easy troubleshooting?

    At the time, an error in the system meant deploying a truck to the site, resulting in a long delay in diagnosing a problem and loss of productivity. The right tracking software solution should not only allow real-time asset monitoring, but also diagnose problems remotely through an easy-to-use interface. Look for tracking software where data is stored in the cloud, so you can easily access historical data and run predictive analytics to identify potential issues.

  • Can the software be updated over time to include new and improved features?

    Tracker software will continue to innovate, delivering new features that will increase productivity and make sites more efficient. Good tracking software allows sites to receive new and improved features seamlessly, without having anyone on site, ensuring that they evolve as technology evolves.

  • Are the controls proprietary?

    There are tracking solution providers that outsource the development of their software to third parties, labeling it as their own. Problems arise when you need bug fixes or updated new features because they won’t be able to do it quickly or efficiently. Always go for solution providers that create their own software, as they will have dedicated firmware teams that can quickly rotate in to fix bugs and make updates and changes, without the need to go through a third party.

For your tracker project to be successful and give you a better return on investment, it is crucial to have the right tracker solution, one that combines robust hardware with intelligent software in a seamless way to increase energy production and protect your assets from the elements.

For an in-depth look at the key features your smart tracking software should have, how the technology works, and ways you can take advantage of its benefits, download our Ebook. Or learn more about Terrasmart’s smart tracking technology, PeakYield™and how we can help you reach new heights in energy production.

The content and opinions of this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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