As people have shown keen interest in renewable energy adaptation, solar-powered cars have become a topic of discussion.
The automobile industry is trying to manufacture solar vehicles now, which can change the automobile industry’s story.
Solar cars are electric cars that make use of photovoltaic cells and convert sunlight into electricity. The cars can also work at night due to the battery packs. The cars store energy in the batteries to run effortlessly at night. And, as a whole, solar cars can help with air as well as noise pollution reduction.
In this article, we will discuss in detail how solar cars work, what developments are done in solar cars, and the benefits of driving a solar car.
Can Solar Powered Cars Work at Night?
In the very beginning, we all had that doubt if solar panels could work at night efficiently. Similarly, the question raised today is, do solar cars work at night? And just like solar panels, solar cars can function at night.
Solar-powered cars can efficiently work at night. Solar vehicles make use of the sunlight to function in the daytime. And during the nighttime, they use the stored energy. Keep reading further and find out how this is actually possible.
How Do Solar Cars Work at Night?
To help you understand the answer to this question here is the most basic explanation:
As you know, electric vehicles use electricity instead of gasoline and use their battery packs to store electricity for later use.
Similarly, the answer to the question asked is: Indeed, solar cars work with the help of power stored in the battery packs. It is very much possible to run a solar car without using a battery pack all the time, but most cars have a battery pack, just in case.
And hence, the longer you charge your car’s battery in the daytime (in the sunlight), the lower the issues arising due to driving it at night.
Not all solar cars use solar panels to charge their battery. Some solar cars are the same (almost) as electric cars, but they do fix a solar panel on the rooftop of the car. While your car is sitting outside or you’re driving the car, this panel will store some charge in the car’s battery.
But, if you want to drive your car at nighttime, you can also make use of charging stations of electric vehicles in the same way as electric cars do.
What Are The Recent Developments Done in Solar Cars?
The first solar car was manufactured in 1955. It was founded by General Motors, and it was presented at a convention in Chicago city. That solar car was named the Sunmobile. It was a 15 inches long prototype. It was made from a tiny Pulley motor (electric) with 12 selenium photovoltaic cells.
The Pulley of the electric motor was the reason for moving the wheel. It was the first but the smallest solar car to drive.
Sono Motors built another solar car after the first development of General Motors. This car was called the Sion. Sono Motors said that this car was the first hybrid solar and commercially available electric car.
It is inbuilt with about 248 solar cells, which are fitted to the car body. It could run up to 225 kilometers while charging using solar power.
Companies are still working on manufacturing a solar car that is fully functioning solar car only or even a hybrid electric-solar car. The companies that are currently working on this are Toyota and Hyundai.
There are many more various solar car companies striving to make solar technology highly sustainable in the coming years.
Why Aren’t We Driving in Solar Cars Already?
There are a couple of reasons why we have not yet started the usage of solar cars for driving on the road.
Firstly, even the highly advanced companies have not manufactured and developed a car that runs entirely on solar energy.
The reason behind this is the solar panel. The solar panels that we currently have and use commercially are only 20 percent to 30 percent efficient. And this is the reason why we need a lot of space for the solar cells to fit in. But if we do so, then we still have to face the problem of weight and cost.
To be precise, solar panels are pretty expensive and are heavy at the same time. And hence if we load the car’s roof with such heavy solar panels, it will add a lot of weight to the car.
Yes, we have solar films that are lighter than solar panels. Still, they are also significantly less efficient as compared to solar panels. Plus, we weigh the car battery; all this makes the idea of solar cars look less feasible in real-time.
Secondly, on a clear, bright sunny day, the earth receives almost 1kW of solar energy per square foot. Considering that, the most efficient 32 sq ft panels can only generate around 8kWh of solar energy in a day.
This would mean that you can only drive for about 40 kilometers from one single solar panel. And this is so less distance per day. You can barely travel once a day with your solar car.
Thirdly, it’s not a sunny day all the time. And this is the biggest hindrance when it comes to using solar cars. On a cloudy day or night, solar cars or panels will not access sunlight and will standstill whenever a cloud passes by. This can lead to being unavailable at times.
Overall, poor weather, improper panel positioning, bad driving position, and dirt accumulation are a few other reasons we haven’t started using solar cars yet.
We still need to discover a more sustainable and efficient plan (minus all the discussed roadblocks) to drive solar cars on the road.
So, to sum it all up, there isn’t any difference between solar and electric cars. They both primarily work in the exact mechanism. The only difference is that solar cars have solar panels to charge their batteries instead of electricity. These solar panels are fitted on the rooftop of the car.
But, along with solar panels, solar cars also have battery packs to charge their batteries. And hence, you can charge solar cars just as you charge electric vehicles.
All in all, solar cars can be said to be electric cars with just a solar panel added on the top.