DIY experimenters are still making progress on solar cars

With home/rooftop solar energy, more and more EV drivers are using home solar power. On the other hand, solar panels installed on vehicles have always been a well-deserved object of suspicion. But is this doubt still deserved in 2020?
Although it is still out of reach (except for very practical experimental cars) to directly use car panels to power the car’s electric motors, the use of relatively low-power solar cells to charge the batteries shows greater promise. Universities and companies with strong financial resources have been experimenting with solar-powered vehicles for decades, and have recently made some good progress.
For example, Toyota has a Prius Prime prototype, which can add 27 miles a day in good conditions, while Sono Motors estimates that under typical German solar conditions, its car can increase the driving distance by 19 miles a day. A range of 15 to 30 miles is not enough to make on-board solar energy the only source of power for cars, but it can meet the needs of most ordinary drivers, while the rest is charged by the grid or home solar energy.
On the other hand, on-board solar panels must have financial significance to car buyers. Of course, vehicles with the best commercially available panels (such as Sono Motors) or expensive experimental panels (such as Toyota’s prototype) can do amazing things, but if the cost of the panels is too high, they will offset the large Some advantages. From charging with them. If we want mass adoption, then the price cannot exceed the revenue.
One way we measure the cost of technology is the DIY crowd’s access to technology. If people without sufficient company or government financial resources can successfully use technology, then automakers may offer cheaper technology. DIY experimenters do not have the advantages of mass production, bulk purchase from suppliers and a large number of experts to implement the solution. With these advantages, the cost per mile of increasing mileage per day can be lower.
Last year, I wrote about Sam Elliot’s solar-powered Nissan LEAF. Due to the performance degradation of the battery pack, the second-hand LEAF he recently purchased can make him work, but it cannot take him home completely. His workplace does not provide electric car charging, so he had to find another way to increase the mileage, thus realizing the solar charging project. His most recent video update tells us about his enlarged slide-out solar panel improvements…
In the video above, we learned how Sam’s settings have improved over time. He has been adding other panels, including some that can slide out a larger surface area when parked. Although more batteries on more panels help increase the range, Sam still cannot directly charge the LEAF battery pack and still relies on more complex backup batteries, inverters, timers and EVSE systems. It can work, but it may be more troublesome than the solar car most people want.
He interviewed James, and James’ electronic technology helped him directly input solar energy into Chevrolet Volt’s battery pack. It requires a customized circuit board and multiple connections under the hood, but it does not require opening the battery pack, so so far, adding solar energy to cars that are not of this structure may be the best method. On his website, he provides detailed statistics for the last few days of driving. Compared with the efforts of household solar and car manufacturers, although the daily increase of about 1 kWh (about 4 miles per volt) is impressive, this can be done using only two solar panels. A custom panel covering most vehicles will bring the result closer to what we saw above by Sono or Toyota.
Between the things done between the car manufacturer and these two DIY tinkers, we are beginning to see how all this will ultimately work in the mass market. Obviously, the surface area will be very important for any solar cell vehicle. A larger area means more cruising range. Therefore, most surfaces of the car need to be covered during embedded installation. However, during parking, the vehicle can behave like Sam’s LEAF and Solarrolla/Route del Sol van: fold more and more panels to get close to the power that home roof installations can provide. Even Elon Musk was very enthusiastic about this idea:
It can add 15 miles or more of solar power per day. Hope this is self-sufficient. Adding a folding solar wing will produce 30 to 40 miles per day. The average daily mileage in the United States is 30.
Although it still may not be able to meet the needs of most drivers for solar cars, this technology is developing rapidly and will never be questionable. (Adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []). push({});
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Jennifer Sensiba (Jennifer Sensiba) Jennifer Sensiba (Jennifer Sensiba) is a long-term efficient car enthusiast, writer and photographer. She grew up in a gearbox shop and has been driving a Pontiac Fiero to test car efficiency since she was 16. She likes to explore the American Southwest with her partner, children and animals.
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Post time: Sep-16-2020
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