Solar Panels on a Tesla
Electric cars and solar panels seem like a match made in heaven: free, clean power as long as the sun shines.
A self reliant, solar car that’s not dependent on the power grid could recharge sustainably from anywhere you dare to venture.
So, have you ever wondered about bolting solar panels on your Tesla? And why don’t all electric cars come equipped with solar panels for a sleek charge-on-the-go solution? In fact, with improving solar technology and clever ground-up engineering, a few self-charging solar cars are just at the point of coming to market. In this video we’ll delve into the practicalities of solar power for vehicles and have a look at some of the early adopters of this emerging technology.
In 2017, Elon Musk suggested that Tesla would offer optional solar tiles on the roof of the model 3, but later retracted the statement. This was Elon Musk’s idea in 2017 – that car roofs are small and inefficiently angled platforms for viable solar installations, and charging from a home solar installation made more sense. You could even charge at night on stored solar and cheaper off peak electricity. However, Elon might have changed his mind, confirming that the Cybertruck will offer a solar roof option on the truck’s bed.
To understand if a solar car could really work, we need to find out how much solar energy the surface of a car can capture, and how much range that energy will provide under realistic driving conditions.
So let’s take a sedan the size of a Tesla Model S, almost 5 m long and 2 m wide, and put a totally impractical, hypothetical array of solar cells covering the whole plan-view rectangular area of 10 square meters.
When it comes down to it, solar vehicles are all about efficiency. It’s a matter of energy to weight. A practical solar car would really need to be designed from the ground up with reduced weight and low aerodynamic drag, to create a vehicle with more favorable energy density. For as far as electric cars have come in the last decade, the energy density of gasoline is still far greater than lithium ion batteries.
Teams gather each year in Australia to race pure solar cars across the continent from Darwin to Adelaide under the scorching desert sun for the World Solar Challenge. Consistent winners of this class have been the evolving Stella series from the University of Eindhoven, the team from which Lightyear sprang in 2016. Lightyear one reevaluated every component of the car and used lighter materials like aluminum and carbon fiber, to build a lighter vehicle with the best aerodynamic coefficient of any car on the market. Four independently driven in-wheel motors also lower the cars weight, and improve powertrain efficiency.
Sono Motors on the other hand, are starting with a more affordable $29,000 compact solar car designed for urban use. In designing the Scion prototype. Sono’s proudest new technology integrates solar cells into polymer body panels to replace conventional painted metal bodywork.
Toyota has experimented with a demonstration Prius with high efficiency thin-film triple junction cells made by Sharp, and Hanergy Solar, a Chinese manufacturer of thin film panels, have also demonstrated prototype cars with panels that can harvest 8-10 kWh per day and supplied such panels to Aston Martin for their GTE racing car.
Most solar panels rely on cells made from semiconducting silicon crystals, which convert sunlight to electricity at around 15%-19%, but new technologies are in the works to create higher efficiency solar cells utilizing new materials. As the future unfolds, and more cutting edge solar technologies come to market, we can see self charging solar electric vehicles become more and more practical, as cells get more and more efficient. A future cell technology with efficiencies above 50% would be a game changer, and probably make solar cars ubiquitous.
Heavy batteries are a limiting factor in the feasibility of solar cars. A breakthrough battery with more favorable energy to weight characteristics would revolutionize electric transportation, and make solar cars far more realistic.
Promising new technologies that utilize materials like graphene, solid polymers, and ceramics are currently in research and development, and are poised to create the next generation of powerful batteries with higher energy density, greater service life, faster charging, improved safety, and potentially even lower costs.
So should you mount a solar panel on your Tesla to make it a solar tesla? Watch the video to find out.
How do solar panels on a Tesla contribute to the shift towards a more sustainable future?
Solar panels on a Tesla: The Future of Clean Energy?
As the world continues to shift towards a more sustainable future, innovations in clean energy are being sought for every aspect of daily life. Electric vehicles have become a popular choice for many consumers, and Tesla stands out as a leader in this industry. Their cars are famed for their quick acceleration, high-tech features, and sleek designs. But what if there was a way to make them even more environmentally friendly? Enter solar panels on a Tesla.
Tesla’s panels were first introduced in November 2019 on its Cybertruck, but it wasn’t until July of 2020 that the company began to sell solar panels for other models such as the Model S, Model 3, and Model X. These solar panels generate energy for the car, eliminating the need to plug into charging stations or use grid power. Ideally, the panels are designed to be added to a Tesla’s roof or hood and can produce up to 15 miles of range per day under optimal conditions.
One major advantage of solar panels on a Tesla is their ability to increase the car’s range without having to stop and recharge. This would make long-distance travel more accessible, especially as the infrastructure for charging stations is still developing in many regions. Additionally, the use of clean energy would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of electric vehicles, which is already lower than that of traditional gas-powered vehicles.
Aside from their practical benefits, solar panels on a Tesla also have an aesthetic appeal. They give the car a futuristic look, and they show that the owner is committed to sustainability in a more visible way than simply driving an electric car. This could potentially make solar panel Teslas more attractive to buyers looking to make an eco-friendly statement.
However, there are some limitations to consider with solar panels on a Tesla. The panels are relatively expensive, and the added weight could slightly affect the car’s performance. Additionally, they are most efficient in direct sunlight, which could limit their effectiveness during cloudy days or driving at night. And while Tesla’s solar panels are durable and estimated to last 25 years, they still have the potential to be damaged in collisions or storms.
In conclusion, solar panels on a Tesla represent an exciting step towards a more sustainable future. They offer the potential for increased range, reduced carbon emissions, and a unique look for the owner. However, with any new technology, there are still limitations to be considered. The cost, weight, and reliance on sunlight may make them impractical for some buyers. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Tesla’s solar panels are a step in the right direction towards a cleaner, greener future.