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Old 04-24-2008, 12:28 PM   #1
Hites
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Default Solar Panel(s) to Replace Alternator?

Idk where to ask this, but what's the practicality of removing the alternator and installing a solar charging system instead? Obviously nights would be a problem, but could my car run off of solar power providing spark during the day?
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:31 PM   #2
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no. why would they want to remove the alternator?


the best thing would be to have multiple energy sources that compliment each other not replace each other when none are viable as a total energy source by themselves anyway.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:31 PM   #3
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This has potential for a good OT showing.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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the alternator is a great little device. basically creates electricity without sapping too much energy from your already-burning gas motor. i don't think there would be any sort of benefit to ditching the alternator in favor of solar cells. ditching the ENGINE in favor of solar cells.. that might be the ticket, but not just yet, i don't think solar cells are nearly efficient enough.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:35 PM   #5
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If you can get the solar system to generate 14+ volts DC and 50+ amps while the car is running I don't see why not.

You may be able to get away with less amperage if you strip out all non essential electrics and only run during the day so you don't need headlights.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:37 PM   #6
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PV systems CAN produce a fairly good level of instantaneous current when in the right conditions....however, i don't think they'd be consistent enough to replace the alternator....maybe they could act as a battery charger though; who knows
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:38 PM   #7
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how much hp does the alternator draw from your typical engine? how much can be produced from a 2sqft area of solar cells? enough to power the spark plugs and all other necessary computer functions? ditching the engine would be stupid, which you clearly pointed out as solar cells not being efficient enough.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:39 PM   #8
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thanks boxxxer and pain.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:42 PM   #9
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Unless you plan on getting rid of the engine, why would you do away with the alternator?
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hites View Post
how much hp does the alternator draw from your typical engine? how much can be produced from a 2sqft area of solar cells? enough to power the spark plugs and all other necessary computer functions? ditching the engine would be stupid, which you clearly pointed out as solar cells not being efficient enough.
the thing is, an alternator is ALMOST making free energy. you're already running your gas motor to power the car. an alternator just needs to spin, and it doesn't place a huge load on the engine to do so. solar cells need plenty of light, but an alternator just needs a running gas engine, which, so far, pretty much every car has got.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:47 PM   #11
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Solar panels are too susceptible to outside conditions. What you need is some kind of device that can harness some power from the already running motor and convert it into electricity, possibly storing it in a battery.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:48 PM   #12
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a 2x2 panel MIGHT be enough to power the ECU, i don't know about plugs though: those guys can be pretty high-aperage. It really depends on the quality of the panel you buy. The upshot to a panel is that an p-n junction is inherently DC, so there's no need for a rectifier like there would be in an alternator.

Note: I am by no means an expert on PV panels or automotive electrical systems, I've just used them before
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Crunch View Post
Solar panels are too susceptible to outside conditions. What you need is some kind of device that can harness some power from the already running motor and convert it into electricity, possibly storing it in a battery.
no waaiii!
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hites View Post
how much hp does the alternator draw from your typical engine? .
3-10HP depending on make, model and who you talk to.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:55 PM   #15
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I just had a vision of the future.

The year...2018
The intarwebsite...Ebay
The listing...solar-powered supercharger
The price...$44.99
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:57 PM   #16
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You could probably find it today if you looked hard enough.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:42 PM   #17
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Put a wind turbine or two on top of the car instead. At highway speeds you have guaranteed 55-75 mph windspeed, any time of day.

In traffic, though, you may need to do something else. Maybe you can install some bike pedals next to the existing ones to run a small generator when you are becalmed. Be sure to get extra sets for the passengers. No one rides for free!

Or just let the engine turn that generator for you.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boxxxer View Post
3-10HP depending on make, model and who you talk to.
so this would only be somewhat practical on a very small displacement engine. sub 1-liter, perhaps?
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hites View Post
so this would only be somewhat practical on a very small displacement engine. sub 1-liter, perhaps?
The only place this might be practical would be to supplement the existing charging system ... or add other features. For example, a solar roof on a car could charge the battery and perhaps run the fan when the car is off to keep air circulating inside, or run the radio, power the accessory plugs, etc.

You'd likely get far better bang for the buck using conventional techniques to increase performance and efficiency, such as lightening the vehicle, using slimmer tires, driving slowly, shifting for maximum efficiency, etc. Don't forget that the panel will add weight, which might offset any gains you might get from removing the alternator. And giving up the alternator, you are sacrificing a lot of what makes a car useful.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:51 PM   #20
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both the alternator and the wind turbine are NOT free energy. They would need to be able to put out something like 700 watts (14v*50a). that power comes from the motor, through inefficient processes in the turbine's case, and through a very efficient belt drive in the alternator's case.

700 watts of solar cells would cost you on the order of $3500, and cover around 30 sqft of surface. Maybe less surface if you spent way more money on high end cells.

And none of it works if it's dark out, unless you pack the car with heavy batteries, killing all your potential benefit anyway.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:55 PM   #21
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It may sound like a nutty idea, but this in combination with many other little nutty ideas is what has gone into making the Prius as efficient as it is. Toyota has moved to take as much strain and dependency off the engine as possible - the AC pump is electrically powered, and the power steering is electric, for instance.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt K View Post
both the alternator and the wind turbine are NOT free energy. They would need to be able to put out something like 700 watts (14v*50a). that power comes from the motor, through inefficient processes in the turbine's case, and through a very efficient belt drive in the alternator's case.
Matt K's sarcasm detector is not solar-powered.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:58 PM   #23
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hehe, sorry, I didn't actually read your whole post or realize who it was posting, I just saw "wind turbine" :P
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Old 04-24-2008, 02:01 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idjiit View Post
It may sound like a nutty idea, but this in combination with many other little nutty ideas is what has gone into making the Prius as efficient as it is. Toyota has moved to take as much strain and dependency off the engine as possible - the AC pump is electrically powered, and the power steering is electric, for instance.
Yes, I would not be surprised if some Prius owner has already tried it. But, as mentioned above, the solar cells would likely cost $X,000 and add on to the cost of the car.

Perhaps with some of the advances, like "paintable solar cells", the cost of the technology would drop enough to make such a thing a viable option.

Does the Prius have electric brakes, too? I think M-B has this already in production, or has been working on it. It would certainly be a step towards removing weight and removing complexity since you could remove all the master cylinder/brake booster/hydraulic lines and just have to run more wiring.
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Old 04-24-2008, 02:01 PM   #25
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Quote:
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so this would only be somewhat practical on a very small displacement engine. sub 1-liter, perhaps?
I'm not sure it would even be cost effective = practical even then. Think about how easy it is to modify the motor and make it more efficient to make 10 more horsepower. Remapping alone will do this. Underdrive pulleys, decatting, cams etc. all offer more viable alternatives to recovering HP consumed by the alternator IMHO.

Disconnecting the alternator is an old school drag racing trick so the idea has merit, just not for a daily driver.
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