DIY Electric Car With Solar Panel – Does It Work?

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DIY Electric Car With Solar Panel – Does It Work?

Have you seen electric cars covered with solar panels? If you were to convert a conventional automobile to run on electric power, should you include some Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the EV to charge the battery bank?

I’ve came across this question in a forum recently and I thought of doing some research on it.

Here’s the fact, a normal sedan homemade EV needs approximately 300 watt hour or Wh to move 1 mile on a flat surface. There are a few factors which will affect this figure such as tire pressure, road resistance, road gradient, wind drag etc. But let’s take that as an example for now.

In order for you to drive 1 mile on your electric car, it will use up 300 Wh of electricity from your battery bank.

Now, how much power can a solar panel generate? Let’s take one of those common 4 feet PV panels used for home solar system. 1 piece of the panel can pretty much cover the entire roof of your EV.

On a bright sunny day, the said solar panel is capable of generating 150 watt-hour of electricity. Meaning, if you were to park your EV under the sun, it will charge your battery bank with 150 Wh after 1 hour.

If you need 300 Wh, you have to install 2 pieces of 4 feet solar panel on your EV and leave it under the sun for 1 hour. After that, you would have top up the battery bank with enough power from the solar panels to travel 1 mile!

If you are planning to install solar panel on your DIY electric car, don’t bother. The power produced from the panel is too small for your EV, unless you are planning to park your electric car under the sun for days.

The fact is, an electric car is an efficient vehicle, but it does consume large amount of electricity. To replenish the battery bank, it is best to park your EV in the garage and recharge the batteries using the power outlet going through the charge controller.

Homemade Electric Car Guide

Do you want to know how to convert a conventional car to run on pure electricity? If you do, check out Peter Millward’s Electricity4Gas e-book.

Millward is an environmental activist and he has been teaching people step by step how to retrofit a car to use electricity for more than 10 years. Click on the link below for more information.

==> Click here to visit Electricity4Gas now!

By | 2012-08-16T09:37:45+08:00 June 11th, 2010|EV Conversion|11 Comments

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  1. John Birk June 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I live in Antigua in the Caribbean, 17 Deg. N of the equator, we get between 10 to 14 hours of sunlight per day, that gives me 5 to 9 hours of bright sun and another 5 hours of somewhat less bright sun.

    I have a Toyota HiAce minibus; with my large roof I calculated that I can install 1000 to 1500 Watts of solar panels.

    It will not run the vehicle; however it will top up the batteries.

    Our island is 108 sq. miles. About 12 by 15 miles, my average daily trip 10 to 30 miles, so at least 15 to 30 mile range can be achieved by solar charging, at any rate, the solar panels will vastly reduce the amount of charging needed overnight.

    The only problem I foresee are fights breaking out in the parking lot; one person shouting to another, “you bastard! You took the good parking spot in the sun, now I have to park in the shade”.

    Solar panels may not be viable option in northern latitudes, however I suspect, here in the Caribbean it may be a neat solution.


  2. Scott June 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Anyone with that kind of money to blow, won’t be driving an EV.

  3. Lenny June 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    It’s sad to admit that in today’s our society, someone having a car with solar panels installed on the hood is in many respects an “open invitation” for car thieves. Think about this. The only way a solar-powered car can get energy is if it is out in the sunshine. Once the solar panels have generated some electricity, storage batteries can be used. But at some point, the solar powered car has to be out of the garage and in the sunshine. And the more this kind of car is “outside,” the higher the potential that it will be stolen. Would a person with a solar powered car feel “safe” going to Wal-Mart, to a restaurant, or leaving such a car in a parking lot while he or she goes to work for the day?

  4. Will June 12, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    You brought up a very good point there Lenny.

  5. Jimmy January 11, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Mr. Yap. Thank you for the ongoing emails encouraging me to continue on with my electric conversion (68 Spitfire)… I hear gas might hit $5 this year! …although I disagree with your conclusion. ONE MILE is fantastic… from an hour or so of direct sunshine! Not everybody has a long commute in life… I work one mile from home! Besides the least amount of time “plugged in” the better right? That juice HAS to come from somewhere.

    Mr. Birk/Antigua: if more people on earth thought as you do… that we ALL LIVE ON AN ISLAND than everybody would realize that EVERYTHING we consume comes from somewhere finite and hence we should protect and conserve. Good on ya.

    Mr. Scott: Conservationalism is not just a decision based on economic necesity. Just because one COULD afford a Hummer doesn’t mean they will want one. Being efficient CAN be cool… besides the Tesla EV kicks ass.

    Lenny: an electric car is just as hard to steal as a gas guzzler. People will probably NOT steal it because they are still rare and it will be spotted!

  6. John Collins January 14, 2011 at 2:17 am

    For the most part I agree, but there are a few 400watt panels available that are good for topping off your charge. I would like to know how John Birk in the Caribbean installs 1000-1500 Watt systems.

  7. Bud Butler January 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    What do you think? Solar pannels are stil quiet expensive….how about those Telsa generators I keep hearing about? Any thing to that? Bud

  8. JamesG February 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

    John, you probably have an optimum application for a solar vehicle. High solar availability (except during hurricane season!), short travel distances, and a vehicle with a lot of horizontal surface area for mounting the array. I say go for it!

  9. Harold Huff May 3, 2011 at 6:11 am

    In 1995 I was part of a college team that ran a solar car in the SunRayce from Indianapolis Indiana to Golden Colorado. All on solar PV power stored in batteries carried in the vehicles. One KW was a good nominal collector capacity. Aerodynamics was the real key though. MIT won that year with a vehicle that was basically a one KW flat plate colector with three wheels. Two in Front. Anyone interested in solar cars should check out the SunRayce’s and the Australlian Solar Challenges, and a book called Speed of Light.

  10. Jack May 4, 2011 at 8:39 am

    So if you have information to build your own solar panels, why wouldn’t you build a Solar Shed or trailer wherever you park your car, at home or near a work site?

  11. Darwin Cosand June 4, 2011 at 2:52 am

    i think that you have to look at what your needs are before starting any project. as for myself i,m trying to build the generator but cannot get the support group to answer my email questions so maybe i wasted my money buying the plans hope not but the info is not complete
    and i need to complete one before starting another. all my friends say it wont work i,d like to prove them wrong

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