Low-cost, high-reliability sun sensor that determines the position of the sun for solar panels


Sun sensor size

Technology abstract

The technology provider offers a dedicated sensor that determines the position of the sun unambiguously and reliably. The properties of the currently available sensors have been optimised for space applications, but can readily be adapted for terrestrial sun sensing applications like concentrated photovoltaics. Being optimised for volume manufacturing, the core properties of these sensors are reliability and affordability.

Sun sensors are used on virtually all satellites to measure their orientation with respect to the sun to allow a correct orientation in a reliable manner. To this extent a lot of money has been invested (in The Netherlands) to develop the required technology to manufacture extremely reliable sun sensors for space applications. Recently these basic technologies have been further developed and proven for micro-satellite applications and optimized for low-cost recurring production by tech provide.

- Derk Schneemann -

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Technology Description

In order to optimize the collection of solar energy many initiatives are considering the use of solar concentrators. Efficient use of a solar concentrator requires that the solar energy must be correctly focused over time. For that reason the collectors need to be adjusted constantly in order to track the solar movement. For fixed installations, this can initially be performed by means of ‘dead reckoning’ but this solution is far from optimal.
A dedicated sensor that determines the position of the sun unambiguously and reliably for each panel would be a much better solution, allowing the use of cheaper overall constructions and less complicated optical systems. For obvious reasons these sun sensors should be low-cost but very reliable. The sun sensors developed are optimized for high reliability low-cost volume production  and can be adapted to be optimised for CPV applications quite easiliy.

Innovations & Advantages

The combination of a housing with integrated connector, special coatings to absorb stray light and automated assembly without manual adjustments allow for a unprecedented quality-to-cost ratio without any compromise to the reliability of the product.

Current and Potential Domains of Application

  • Solar energy plants
  • Domotica (smart buildings)
  • Robotics