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Old 01-24-2003, 12:24 PM   #1
Scooby Guru
Member#: 3102
Join Date: Nov 2000
Chapter/Region: NESIC
Location: Northern, CT
2012 Sport Limited
Ice Silver

Lightbulb Solar Cells and Subarus...

Here's a consideration for all of you to think about.

I'm looking into ways to integrate solar cells into my subaru, use it as a source to charge a second battery to run aux. items such as stereo, etc. Or just taking a small load off the alternator to charge the primary battery via several well thought out single pull / double throw relays

I'm thinking along the lines of replacing the adjustable center of a V5 wing with a solar panel instead of a CF section. Rewiring my my car to take a load off the alternator, freeing up a small amount of horsepower and increasing mileage due to less load.

I know I'm absolutely insane, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on this idea, maybe give me some more ideas as to make this a reality. Solar panels are easily accessible thanks to some friends in the engineering dept at UConn

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Old 01-24-2003, 12:51 PM   #2
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WRX /WRX/Cooper S


If you can get the stuff cheap then go for it, but I was under the impression you need *a lot* of panel surface to make even a slightly useful amount of power. I remember I bought a car window fan with almost a square foot of panel surface and even in direct July sun it barley spun. It would stop all together with any haze or clouds.

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Old 01-25-2003, 12:27 AM   #3
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Location: Tigard, Oregon
2006 WRX Wagon


It won't take any load off the alternator, you're not going to get more than 10 watts of so, and that's less than 1/70th of a HP. But what it might do is to keep the battery charged if the car sits for a long while. Which might be nice.
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Old 01-27-2003, 01:07 AM   #4
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2003 Silver Wagon
Tuned with Enginuity


Yep, Alan is right on this one.
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Old 01-27-2003, 01:15 AM   #5
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'95 Montego Miata


Just be sure not to overcharge the battery. There should be some circuitry that shuts off input to the battery once the battery gets to a certain voltage.
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Old 01-27-2003, 01:58 AM   #6
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Location: Tracy, CA, USA
1996 Impreza LX 2.2
Aegean Blue


Ditto to what Alan said. The PV cells aren't going to be effecient enough to take a useful load off the alternator, not to mention their weight would probably cancel out any power generation. Not to mention they would be wholey dependent on constant sunshine to generate power, without which they would just be a weight penelty without any benefit. Unlike other forms of Solar Generation, PV cells do not store solar energy in the system.

Now, the real question is - can you stick some thermocouples into the car to generate power from all the waste heat that the engine produces?
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Old 01-27-2003, 02:10 AM   #7
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2012 Sport Limited
Ice Silver


Ya, I tried a panel about the length of my spoiler and in an overcast day it lit a 3 watt 12V bulb!

I'm just trying to find numerous ways for fuel conservation, the best so far is the replacement of diesel fuels with simple Soy, vegetable or other seed oils. With a mixture of Methanol and something else.... I'll have to ask my chem teacher again, you can run a diesel engine on a short term basis on warm days.

Ah well, hopefully Hydrogen fuel cells will be as successful as they're seeming to be. Since Bush is giving tax breaks for SUV drivers oil is done pretty soon!

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Old 01-28-2003, 01:44 PM   #8
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Location: Hopkinton, MA
2007 Lotus Elise
(From General)



If you have a garage, mount the solar cell very close to the wall where your car is parked. Mount a connector within easy access in the car that you can plug in the solar cell. This works best for vehicles that spend long durations without use (like my Cobra in the winter). Unless you've got a huge surface area, you don't even need to worry about overcharge. I've got a small one in my garage that I've used for various batteries over the years. I'm not to diligent lately about using it, so can't say how effective it is. Don't forget to solder in a diode in series with the cell or your car will discharge through the cells and blow them out.

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