We don’t get a massive amount of sunshine here on the Green Isle, but recently the weather has been great which sparked the following conversation in the office…
Is it technologically feasible to extend the driving range of battery-powered cars by attaching flat, solar glass panels, over (or as part of) a car roof?
There are more elements to take into consideration when compared to house roof solar panels. House panels are raised and angled to catch the sunlight, but obviously due to aerodynamic consequences and drag this would not work in an automotive situation.
We know, a few years ago, Toyota used solar sunroofs to power an interior fan which ventilated hot interiors in some Prius models while they were parked. Maybe this technology could be adapted in some way to recharge electric vehicle batteries, alleviating both charge and range anxiety?
Unfortunately, it seems it will not be until solar panels get a lot more efficient and cover a lot more of the car’s surface area. At the moment they are simply unable to produce enough power to make a significant difference.
A typical solar panel is only capable of producing 300 Watts. While a smaller-than-most 50-horsepower electric motor requires 36,000 Watts to power it!
So, unless you were willing to park out in the Sahara Desert for about 10 days, you won’t be able to fully charge up your EV with one panel.
It is a simple fact that any extra power you add to the battery extends its range. However, it’s just not clear if it’s actually worth it when you factor in the energy output and the cost of the panel.
We’re lead to believe that pretty soon, car panels themselves; roofs, hoods, trunks, will be able to be coated with a solar collection film. That will multiply the potential collection area. And over time, solar collectors themselves will get more efficient and be able to produce more energy.
That, along with cars and batteries getting lighter, is where manufacturers have to get to.
Looking a little too far ahead, the idea of autonomous cars which could relocate when “parked” to “catch the sun” is where we would like to get to.
Who we are:
Carandus.com is a free car communication platform that allows drivers to communicate
with each other simply via the registration/ license plate, contributing to the development
of the connected car for the future. Carandus.com also works as a car management tool
designed to save time and money making managing a car easier. It sends reminders when
the NCT and motor Tax are due. Further it works as a social media hub for drivers, allowing
owners to post and share car related content, form groups and follow other cars. In
association with Cartell.ie, a user can access technical information specific to their car. Users
can also store service history and have it sent to them, preserving the value of the vehicle.
On Carandus.com owners can also find instant service and tyre quotes specific to their
vehicle and book it through.