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A solar car is an electric-powered vehicle that runs on solar energy obtained from the solar panels on its surface. The solar panels are commonly found on the roof of the vehicle.

This type of vehicle is not entirely practical as of this moment, for obvious reasons. It needs to harness the power of the sun in order to run. Without sunlight, it runs on the reserve power which is stored in its batteries.

Photovoltaic cells convert the sun’s energy into electricity, which runs the vehicle. That’s why solar cars are limited by the energy input from the sun, their main source of energy. This type of vehicle is usually manufactured for participation in solar car races.

Just like a typical race car, a solar race car has room only for the driver, although there are some designs that include room for a navigator. It does have several features similar to a normal car, such as an accelerator, a brake, rear view mirrors on the camera, and ventilation. It would also have a radio which would be used by the driver, in order to communicate with his support crew.

The Electrical System

Probably the most important component of a solar car is its electrical system. The electrical system controls all the power that comes in and out of the car. It doesn’t have a gas tank, but its battery essentially functions as one. The battery stores energy produced by the PV cells. There’s a wide range of batteries to choose from, but the most common ones are lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCd), nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), lithium polymer batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. Most solar cars have gauges which monitor the entire electrical system. Among the things that one keeps an eye on, are the battery voltage, and the current.

The Design

The mechanical design of a solar car prioritizes on keeping friction and weight to a minimum, while maintaining sufficient strength so that it doesn’t disintegrate. These vehicles are typically made out of titanium and similar composites, in order to get a good strength-to-weight ratio.

Commercially Available Hybrids

Hybrid cars using solar power are commercially available, in limited quantities. The Toyota Prius is said to be able to generate up to 240 watts of electric power from its solar cells. That results in a 15 km drive, on a sunny day.

One practical application for the solar car would be to use its technology for golf carts, which are lightweight, are mainly used during the day, and are usually parked under the sun.

Our future will be bright when cars roam the streets using renewable energy such as solar power.


Visit Anna Williams’ website and blogs, to find out more about Solar Power and Alternative Energy.

Source Article: The Solar Car and how it Runs

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 Posted by at 1:47 am