Introducing Heliomotion Solar Tracking
Some homeowners in the UK want to embrace the benefits of solar technology but can't (or don't want to) install solar panels on their roofs. And, even for homes that are intending to install solar panels on the roof, doing so means the panels are static, i.e. only able to generate energy at certain times of the day when the sun is in the right position in the sky.
At Solar Guide we're always interested in new technology which could remove barriers to solar power enabling the UK to move closer towards a solar future. If your roof is north facing, particularly shaded or has dormers which restrict the useable installation space, Heliomotion could be the answer.
What is Heliomotion?
Heliomotion is an innovative solar tracking system, i.e. solar panels which move to follow the sunlight. The panels aren't fixed to a roof but to a column which stands in the ground outside your home. By following the sun from sunrise to sunset a Heliomotion delivers 30-60% more energy per year than a roof based fixed photovoltaic (PV) panel system with the same dimensions. This means you should see a much quicker return on your investment in terms of energy savings.
As Heliomotion is not installed on a roof it is particularly well suited to homes where static PV isn't viable, either because of the architecture or position of the roof or in listed buildings with planning restrictions. The Heliomotion PV can be used alongside on-grid power or in off-grid (battery based) PV systems.
The technology has been developed by a Finnish company, HelioZenit Ab, which was founded on the Aland Islands in 2008 and is now being introduced into the UK market.
How Does it Work?
The solar tracker uses GPS to calculate the sun's location. It can determine the time, latitude and longitude to detect the sun's position and turn the PV panels to face it. The highly precise tracking maximises the energy production throughout the day following the sun in two axis with only one motor, rotating 180 degrees along the horizon and 15-70 degrees vertically.
It can be powered from any constant 24 VDC power source, either using the included 24 VDC power adapter or by connecting it to a 24V battery bank.
How Does it Compare to Roof Solar Panels?
Unlike roof based solar which is restricted in terms of energy generation by which way the roof is facing, the Heliomotion tracks the sun to maximise the panels' exposure to sunlight at all times of the day.
According to Heliomotion, this solar tracking technology increases annual energy generation by 30-60% per year when compared with a stationary panel facing south with an ideal angle.
HelioZenit Ab say: "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."
Some homeowners may be concerned about the structure of the Heliomotion, i.e. how does it stand up to high winds? The structure is engineered to withstand wind speeds up to 67 miles per hour. If you expect stronger winds it is recommended that you use the provided extension rod to provide extra support.
Does Heliomotion Work with a Solar Battery?
By storing surplus energy generated by the Heliomotion you can keep it for use at another time or to charge an electric vehicle getting the owner one-step closer to off grid living. Heliomotion can be combined with solar batteries and something called a solar station which is also available from HelioZenit Ab.
The solar station is a battery charger, inverter and utility power relay. When it detects that there is insufficient solar or battery power the solar station will automatically switch so you use the energy from the National Grid.
When you buy a Heliomotion you have the choice to buy just the unit itself (tracker,
framework and panels) or to buy the complete package including inverter, cables, breaker
box etc. The company sell packages for on grid installations as well as off grid installations complete with batteries and charger/inverter solar stations.
HelioZenit Ab say: "Our recommendation is to use the grid-tied system if utility power is available, and to use the battery-tied system for off-grid installations without access to utility power. The main reason for this is that the grid-tied system is simpler to install and allows you to automatically utilise 100% of your produced electricity. Furthermore, the grid tied system is cheaper."
How Easy is the Installation?
A potentially big attraction for some homeowners is that it doesn't necessarily need to be installed by a professional. The support column is placed in the ground and the panels slide on to a framework so there is no need for scaffolding or heavy equipment. The Heliomotion has been designed to be easy to assemble so a competent DIY'er can take care of the majority of the work and avoid labour costs. As it's ground based this should also make servicing and cleaning of the panels much simpler.
Your Heliomotion and everything needed to complete installation is delivered on a pallet with an illustrated guide. It can be finished in a few hours, but the last stage of the installation – the wiring/commissioning – requires a certified electrician. Heliomotion recommend installing the system within 100 meters of where the power will be used.
What About Warranty and Durability?
The PV panels are covered by a 10 year guarantee on materials and workmanship and a power guarantee of a 95% output for the first 5 years and up to 87% for up to 25 years afterwards.
The tracker element of the system is designed to last as long as the panels (typically 25-40 years) and includes a 3 year warranty to provide free replacement parts.
How Much Does Heliomotion PV Cost?
This price list was supplied to us in October 2018 as 'indicative' but all systems need to be quoted individually by Heliomotion. These prices exclude VAT, cabling, installation and groundworks (if required).
All Heliomotion PV trackers are available without solar panels for those who want to use their own panels.
|no panels, no inverter||panels, but no inverter||panels and grid inverter||panels, batteries and Solarstation|
The company also offers the Heliomotion TC (for thermal collector), which includes the GPS tracker, but with thermal collector panels rather than PV. These panels will use the sun's energy to heat water for use in your home.
The TC system includes 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 to prevent it from overheating.
There are 3 sizes of PV system and 2 sizes of thermal collectors available:
|Heliomotion PV-650||Heliomotion PV-1300||Heliomotion PV-2000||Heliomotion TC-1000||Heliomotion TC-2000|
|Rated Power (watts)||660||1,320||1,980||Peak power: 1,400 (0°)
Nominal power: 1,000 watt (40°)
|Peak power: 2,800 (0°)
Nominal power: 2,000 watt (40°)
|Panels / Collectors||2 x BenQ SunForte 330W||4 x BenQ SunForte 330W||6 x BenQ SunForte 330W||1x1000W Online||2x1000W Online|
|Electricity production||800-1,500 kWh/year||1,600-3,000 kWh/year||2,400-4,500 kWh/year||N/A||N/A|
|Heat production||N/A||N/A||N/A||1,500-2000 kWh/year||3,000-4,000 kWh/year|
|Model 2 for those who wish to use their own solar panels||PV-2||PV-4||PV-6||N/A||N/A|
|Suitable for||Installation up to 100m away from home||Installation up to 100m away from home||Installation up to 100m away from home||Installation up to 20m away from home||Installation up to 20m away from home|
Interested in Heliomotion for Your Home?
For more information or to find a Heliomotion installer near you, visit the website at www.heliomotion.com.
If you're looking for traditional roof-based solar panels, solar thermal collectors or a solar battery, it's really easy to get free quotes right here on Solar Guide. We'll put you in touch with up to 3 MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installers who will provide you with no obligation quotes so you can compare prices.