Solar panels can be a great way to provide power to a car. They can save money on fuel and also reduce the amount of harm that a car causes the environment. Just like solar-powered homes, solar cars take energy from the sun and change it into electricity. The electricity charges the car's battery, replacing the need for fuel. Alternatively, some solar cars skip the battery altogether and send the electricity right to an electric motor.
Photovoltaic Cells (PVC) are the pieces in solar panels that help to convert energy from the sun into electricity. They do this through a process that uses semiconductors to absorb the light and help create a flow of electrons within the panels. The flow of electrons creates the electricity that is then transferred to the battery or car motor.
How Do Solar Cells Work?
Solar cells exist in many devices, from calculators to watches to cars. They are filled with semiconductors that are typically made of silicon. Silicon has chemical properties that allow it to gather energy. The electrons within it are arranged in three types of shells. The first two are full while the third is only half full. The silicon atom is always looking for ways to fill up the last shell and that's what causes it to be receptive to energy. When energy, such as sunlight, is added to silicon, it causes a few electrons to break away and leave the atoms. When enough electrons break free, it causes a current of electrons, or energy.
Harnessing Energy of Solar Cells
Solar panels use metal conductors to direct the current of energy. By placing conductors on the top and bottom of the photovoltaic cell in the solar panel, the energy can be drawn away to different sources. This current combines with the cell's voltage to make up the power, or wattage, produced by the solar panel.
Are Solar Cars Practical?
Solar technology is expensive but there is hope that new innovations will help bring down the cost and make solar cars more practical. The design is also an issue as a car covered in solar panels will heat up the inside of the car very quickly, making it an uncomfortable ride for the driver. But right now, having a car that uses solar panels as a range extender for electric cars or small gas engine cars seems like the most practical choice. This means that drivers could rely on a small amount of solar power to get the car started even if the battery has died - at least until it can get to a shop to be serviced. Alternatively, solar panels could also help to power certain features of a car, such as the stereo, power windows, sun roof, etc. so that fuel-powered cars can save on the amount of fuel they are consuming.