Your Questions About Solar Powered Cars

Richard asks…

Why are Solar Powered Cars better than Gas Powered Cars?

ssadmin answers:

They don't have carbon based emissions,and there is no refueling. Although driving solar powered cars at night would be frustrating, agree?

Charles asks…

solar powered cars?

An average car requires about 100 kilowatts to run. How big (in square meters) a solar collector would you need to mount on top of a conventional automobile to generate equivalent power. Assume you could capture solar radiation with 80% efficiency? Is this practical with standard technology?

ssadmin answers:

Given your 100 kW figure, one could estimate that you would need about 125 m^2 of 80% efficient solar panels. From the Wikipedia article, I estimated about 1kW/m^2 of power per unit area coming from the sun (see energy conversion efficiency). This figure is also assuming no energy storage and that the efficiency of the vehicle after the solar panels is 100% efficient.

Calculations: 100kW/(0.8 * 1kW/m^2)

I had worked with a university-level solar-powered car team for a short amount of time. Nevertheless, I know from experience that a production model solar car is not viable with the present technology (we can only dream of 80% efficient solar panels). One viable option is to buy an electric car and also purchase solar panels for the roof of your house. If placed correctly, the solar panels would collect much more energy than panels located on the car. So you would have the energy used by the car offset by the panels on your house, and your car won't look goofy with solar panels plastered all over it.

Steven asks…

How can I design a solar powered car?

Hi. I have an idea that I would like to share with the world. A solar powered car about the size as a golf cart, but the protection of a car. It seems pretty cool, but how do I design it using software? I have a Mac, so only Mac friendly programs.

ssadmin answers:

Solar powered directly? That is not very good economics even though it is possible. See the Sunstang project for a complete description of one. But before you rush off understand that sunstang was involved in a crash that killed the operator. A truck passing caused a wind that drew Sunstang across the highway and into the path of another vehicle. It had to be built so light that it would not control itself well in any cross wind or vortex.

Solar panels mounted on a car will charge up the batteries, then be useless until you use up that power. Had those solar panels been on your house, they could have been providing power at optimum every day. You would sell the excess to the grid, then buy back grid power to charge your batteries.

You can now plan a car heavy enough to be safe on the highway because you can have more solar collectors on the house (or garage roof) than you can find space on a car.

Use the google keyword Sunstang for the project.

Mary asks…

how successful are solar powered cars?

are they always reliable to work? do people actually buy them?
thanks in advance 🙂

ssadmin answers:

Not sure what you are asking here. There are no ‘commercially' available SOLAR cars. There are experimental models and competitions are held between them internationally so see which ones are most reliable, fastest etc. At this stage they are not practical as you need a lot of car surface to generate enough power.

What are commercially available are electric cars. These are getting both cheaper and better every year. Every major car manufacturer in the world is working on developing either pure electric or hybrid electric /other fuel cars.

For short to medium range driving electric cars are already economical. They offer, low maintenance, quiet driving, energy efficiency, low running cost, instant start even in very cold weather, instant high torque from stop. As the numbers increase and the technology matures they will become the car of choice. Expect this to happen in the next decade.

Any electric car can be charged [operated by] solar energy if there are solar panels installed at your point of charge. The surface area of a typical electric car is not enough to provide the energy you need.

Chris asks…

where can i order fast solar powered cars? best answer 10 points !?

it is for a science project.

ssadmin answers:

If it is for a science project, then you need to build your own.

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