Can I Put a Solar Panel on the Roof of My Car

Can I Put A Solar Panel On the Roof of My Car?

Solar panels can be a great way to be greener and environmentally friendly about your energy usage. When paired with an electric car, you can also help to reduce your carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy sources. You can certainly power your car with the electricity you gain from a solar energy system, but this can be done either by affixing a solar panel directly to the roof of your car or by harvesting solar energy from a home solar panel. In fact, it is more efficient to do the latter.

Types of Solar Panels for a Car Roof

While the merits of mounting solar panels on your car’s roof are still being debated, there are certain solar panels that work best for doing so. You cannot necessarily just mount any solar panel on your car, and the panels that might work for your roof at home might not work for the roof of your car. 

Flexible Solar Panels

First of all, you will need to ensure that you are using a flexible solar panel option if you plan to mount it on your car’s roof. These are made from regular solar cells that have a protective plastic film that is glued over the top. Flexible solar panels are able to bend and curve better to a car’s contours because they do not have frames like most traditional solar panels do. Since these panels are flexible, they are less likely to crack and are also more lightweight. 

An example of a flexible solar panel option is the 100 watts 12-volt monocrystalline solar panel. This is flexible and thin– only about 1/10 of an inch wide– so it is a more subtle look, rather than you driving around with a bulky panel on top of your car. It also has pre-drilled holes for mounting the panel on your roof, as well as reinforced eyelets for affixing to roof racks or directly onto the roof itself. 

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

There are two types of solar panels that you could opt for. Monocrystalline solar panels are made from monocrystalline solar cells, which are formed from a continuously grown tubular ingot of silicon. Polycrystalline solar panels are made from several crystals of silicon in one PV cell. When it comes to efficiency, monocrystalline is more efficient, coming in at about 20%-22%, as opposed to polycrystalline’s 13%-15%. 

The common theme here is that monocrystalline solar panels are best for the roof of your car, and it is important that they are also a flexible option. The increased efficiency will come in handy, as the car roof does not offer much space– you will be able to get more solar energy, even in this smaller space, than you would with a polycrystalline option. 

Powering Your Car with Solar Power

You can also still power your car with solar power without installing a solar panel on the car itself. In fact, you will be able to collect solar power more efficiently to power your car with, too, if you choose to do it this way! If you are able to install– or already have– a solar panel at your home, you can use this solar electricity to power your car’s battery. 

To do so, you will need to have both solar panels and an electric vehicle charger at home. You can get this tool when you have your solar panels installed, so it is important to make sure you are aware of your needs prior to any installation. You could certainly hire a team to come back and put an electric vehicle charger in place later, but it is more cost-effective to have everything done at once, in a single visit. 

Solar Panel Cars

Another option for powering your car with solar panels is that of the solar panel car. This is still in development, but many manufacturers are looking at designing cars that directly integrate solar panels on the roof of the car, rather than mounting a solar panel as has been discussed above. This involves building in solar cells to the vehicle itself so that the car can either partially or completely charge itself with solar power.

Currently, though many car manufacturers are working on this, there are no models of solar panel cars that are commercially available for purchase. There are also issues being combatted during the design process, such as the efficiency of solar panels, which may become an issue for the implementation of solar panel cars. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put solar panels on a car roof?

Yes, you can put solar panels on a car roof. There are some flexible solar power options that make it easier to mount them on top of a car roof. 100-watt solar panels are also well suited for mounting on top of a car, due to their dimensions. 

Why don’t they put solar panels on cars?

Solar panels are not often put on cars because they are not as effective. When a solar panel is on a car, it only converts about 15%-20% of energy from the sun, which is not very efficient. Many believe that it does not yet make sense to mount solar panels on cars, or at least not to power the car solely through solar power.

Can solar panels be used for cars?

Yes, solar panels can be used for cars, though they are not very effective at this time. However, many manufacturers are working on special solar-powered models of cars, and you can power a car’s battery with electricity that is collected from solar panels that are mounted on your house– which are more effective.

How do you attach solar panels to a car roof?

To install solar panels on your car roof, you will need to affix them with a bracket system. You will need to put lap sealant between the roof itself and the brackets, and then you can place the solar panels where you want them and screw them in place! 

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