All You Need to Know about Solar-Powered Cars
Industries of all sorts adopt different strategies to retain their current customers and gain new ones. The automobile industry is no exception. Manufacturers need to introduce new methods and technologies to ease the burden on customers. Environment-friendly features also play an important role in the automobile industry. People are more inclined towards contributing to the environment, now more than ever. We have witnessed the transition of interest from petrol cars to electric cars and another type is gaining attention. A solar car is the latest product in the line that can change the dynamics of the automobile industry in the years to come.
What is a Solar Car?
While the concept of solar cars became famous in recent years, it was in the pipeline for decades. The idea of running a vehicle by drawing energy from the sun has always been fascinating. A solar car has solar panels attached to its exterior that draws energy from the sun.
Solar power is a source of energy believed to last for some billion years, the concept of using solar energy in cars sounds like the next big thing. Governments around the world are supporting the cause and introducing environment-friendly projects like Abu Dhabi’s largest solar car park.
HOW DOES A SOLAR CAR WORK?
A solar car has photovoltaic cells closely linked together that convert sunlight into electric energy. The electric energy is converted into volts by a controller and stored in the car’s battery. The battery is important to store the electricity making it possible to drive the car after the sun has gone down.
The electricity fuels up the car’s battery to turn the motor. Some solar cars use technology where the electricity is directly transferred to the motor.
Advantages of Solar Car
Solar cars are a thing of the future. With the rising petrol prices in the UAE and around the globe, people are always looking for ways to save money, and what better way to do it than get a car that doesn’t require petrol at all? There are many other advantages of solar cars which are listed as follows:
- Saves fuel money since a solar car runs on electricity generated by solar panels
- Lower charging cost of electric batteries
- Environment-friendly and sustainable
- Say goodbye to noise and air pollution
- A great option for drivers who travel short distances in sunny weather
- Electricity can be stored in batteries so you can drive the car at night
- On-going research on solar cars can bring in lighter batteries and extra efficient photovoltaic cells
- Free power supply from the sun
Disadvantages of Solar Car
Solar cars are not available on a large scale due to multiple reasons. While the idea of getting a solar car might sound like the right thing to do, a few things need to be considered. Listed below are the disadvantages of solar cars:
- Design limitations as a lot of space is required to accommodate the solar panels
- Solar panels usually convert sunlight into electric energy at about 20-35% efficiency. You would need a lot more to get some real power
- Solar panels are required to balance weight and efficiency. While lighter solar panels are a better option for cars, they might not be as effective
- Highly technical cars which would make local servicing hard to get
- The stored energy in batteries can help you steer the car in the absence of sun but sunshine is still required to be fully optimal
- These cars wouldn’t be a preferred choice for regions with cold climates and minimal sunshine
Early Development in Solar Cars
Car manufacturers have geared up for producing solar cars and doing it earlier than their counterparts. Here are some of the developments in solar cars:
SOLAR ROOFS IN CARS
Solar roofs in cars were introduced several years ago. They are placed on the top of the cars and are fully exposed to sunlight. A few car brands have introduced solar roofs over the years:
Sonata hybrids had a sunroof and as per Hyundai, the solar panel car had the capability to generate enough electric power to charge the car’s battery from 30 to 60%- that too within 6 hours of daily charging.
If you want to add a Sonata Hybrid to your car collection, check out these used Sonata Hybrids for sale in the UAE and select from a wide range of models.
Toyota Prius is available in Japan with a solar roof. According to Toyota, the solar roofs can add up to 6 kilometres of driving range per day. The concept had approval issues which made it unavailable in the US.
If you are a fan of the Toyota brand, check out these used Toyota Prius for sale in the UAE and have your pick.
Nissan Leaf 2010 came with a solar roof and it was Nissan’s first solar-roofed car. It was one of the earliest cars with a solar roof.
For used Nissan models, check out these used Nissans for sale in the UAE and select the one that best fits your needs.
Tonneau is the open area in a truck that can be used for passengers or cargo. The space is ideal for solar panels that collect the sun’s rays and store them in the battery pack. The stored energy can be accessed via the AC/DC inverter and it can extend the electric vehicle’s range.
SOLAR CAR RACING
Solar car racing has been around for years and they welcome innovative minds to showcase their creations on a big platform. The world solar championship for instance has been operating for over 30 years and people from all over the world participate in this unique solar racing event. The event is watched by millions and it is a clear indication of people’s growing interest in solar cars.
LIGHTYEAR 0 – THE FUTURE IS NOW
The frequently asked question “why solar cars are still not available” is a thing of the past as Lightyear 0 has emerged on the scene. Founded in 2016, Lightyear is an EV startup based out of the Netherlands. Lightyear 0 has the privilege of being the world’s first production-ready fully solar-powered car. Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park, SRTI Park has announced a collaboration with Lightyear, so you can expect to see the Lightyear 0 on the roads of the Emirates soon.
CAN ELECTRIC CARS BE CHARGED BY SOLAR PANELS?
The answer is yes. A solar energy system will charge your electric car just as it would supply energy or charge your other home appliances.
CAN I CHARGE CAR BATTERY WITH A SOLAR PANEL?
You can charge your car batteries with solar panels. Car batteries are generally 12 volts so you just need to make sure that the solar panels are rated at 12 volts.
HOW DO SOLAR CARS HELP THE ENVIRONMENT?
Solar cars don’t emit any harmful gases and any noise. Using solar cars means there will be no or less use of fossil fuels which are finite resources.
This was everything you needed to know about solar cars. The idea of solar cars may have been a dream of the past but it is a reality now. Solar cars can especially be a handful in places like the UAE where temperatures are high and the sun shines in its full glory. With lightyear 0 and other car manufacturers gearing up to introduce their own solar vehicles, you can expect to see more solar cars running on the roads.
Stay tuned to UAE’s top auto blog for more information.