I want to charge my Solo EV from Sun rather than using Manitoba Hydro. Hydro works. It’s reliable. It’s renewable. However it costs a bit of money, perhaps $300 per annum to charge my Solo (15000 miles X 2₵ per mile). I can do a little better by charging from Sun, plus I get some shade.
A major expense is the solar panels each about 1m X 2m in size giving nearly 300W each in peak insolation. They do deteriorate a bit over time but can be replaced as needed. Many manufacturers guarantee 80% of the rated output for 25 years. Good. My Solo might not last as long. Me neither.
Solar panels are made from small modules about 72 in each panel in a rectangular array 6 X 12 in shape. Each module delivers about 0.6V, the silicon band-gap energy making about 48V output at ~8A, less under shade or failed modules or less than normal incidence. By connecting panels in series with standard weatherproof connectors a high DC voltage can be obtained to charge batteries through a charge controller or to run an inverter. The circuitry is isolated from the frame up to about 1000 volts. Fuses and diodes protect the system by opening circuits and jumping failed modules. Panels weigh about 23kg.
By pointing the panels to Sun, one can get closer to peak performance for much of the day. Where I live, clouds are absent for ~2300h on average and the usual cloud is a high cirrus, allowing lots of light through. In “cloudy” weather, light is cut back quite a bit and it can get nearly twilight under an eclipse or a cumulonimbus cloud. We get those only a few times a year. So, a PV array charging a battery and running an inverter is quite a reliable source of power for a day or so. Typically, Solo will need only a partial charge after some errand so a matching battery might actually last several days of charging. Even cloudy days might keep up.
Prices for panels in China are about 50₵ USD per watt or a bit less in quantity. About 26 panels fit on a pallet which is far more than I need for my project. I could store the surplus for spare parts or to shade TLW’s patio in the future… or get like-minded DIY types to share in the purchase. I could store them on the roof of our house to generate even more power but that would be much more complicated than a shade over my picnic table… and TLW has stated she is against such a move…
The advantages of using solar panels to run my car are obvious:
- I get to save a bit more money,
- I get some shade instantly,
- I get to make something, which I enjoy, and
- I can show the neighbours possibilities…
The costs are obvious too:
- I get to spend $thousands which might take a decade or more to recover,
- I get some “eye-sore” in the backyard,
- I have to put in a lot of effort to avoid adding even more cost for fabrication and installation, and
- I have to keep explaining myself to doubters… 😉