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(Marketwatch)   Toyota Prius with its own solar panels? It's more likely than you think   (marketwatch.com) divider line 65
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2682 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jul 2008 at 2:11 AM (6 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2008-07-06 11:14:41 PM
"...which will supply part of the two to five kilowatts needed to power the air-conditioning unit..."

Wow, shiatteriffic. Will there be a windmill to power the turn signals?
 
2008-07-06 11:38:06 PM
wow, what a great farking idea!

Sun shines -> heats car -> charges batteries and runs AC
 
2008-07-06 11:39:29 PM
Ford and GM could never do this, because the cars might not look like the are from the 1960's anymore.
 
2008-07-06 11:43:28 PM
irdivx.googlepages.com
 
2008-07-06 11:43:43 PM
"...which will supply part of the two to five kilowatts needed to power the air-conditioning unit..."

that is rather pathetic.
 
2008-07-06 11:51:30 PM
I just wanted to snark on the "it's" thing.
 
2008-07-07 12:40:28 AM
The Prius is a good car.. hell, it's a great car. But why the funk can't they make it good looking?
 
2008-07-07 12:53:39 AM
Dr.Knockboots:But why the funk can't they make it good looking?

I will never understand why straight guys shop for cars much like drag queens shop for dresses.

I love my Prius more every time I drive it and even think it is cute in a boxy-pod kind of way. I'm thinking of trading in my 2005 model for a 2009 with the lithium ion battery pack. The 09s are rated at around 80mpg which means in reality they'll probably do 60mpg.
 
2008-07-07 02:10:54 AM
Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.

/At least Toyota is doing something.
 
2008-07-07 02:26:45 AM
Arghhh, 6 HP for an aircon unit... Something sounds wrong.

I need to go check my books. As far as the addition of solar cells, only if they're flush and will pay off in much less than the lifetime of the car.
 
2008-07-07 02:27:29 AM
Why bother with solar for cars? Some grad student at the University of Delaware made an electric Scion that gets 150 miles on a 2 hour charge.

Either he's a genius, or everyone working in the auto industry is retarded and/or evil.
 
2008-07-07 02:35:57 AM
why don't they just put in an LS7 and be done with it?
 
2008-07-07 02:40:50 AM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.

/At least Toyota is doing something.


Bad? No. Mostly useless? Yes. Possibly to the point that it's just a needless expense, but I'm not going to try to crunch any numbers. I suppose if they're getting the panels on there cheaply enough it couldn't hurt. What I'd really like to see is the widespread use of solar panels on houses, where there is enough surface area to make a dent in energy costs. Then you can just use that energy to charge a plug-in hybrid or pure electric car if you wish.
 
2008-07-07 02:48:57 AM
Dumbmitter who can't tell IT IS from ITS? It's more likely than you think.
/How many cars can we power with all the unneeded apostrophes?
 
2008-07-07 02:52:53 AM
www.southparkstuff.com
 
2008-07-07 02:53:14 AM
J. Frank Parnell -

Why bother with solar for cars? Some grad student at the University of Delaware made an electric Scion that gets 150 miles on a 2 hour charge.

Either he's a genius, or everyone working in the auto industry is retarded and/or evil.

Link
As soon as the price lowers, cars using this technology will probably take over the auto industry.
 
2008-07-07 03:03:00 AM
Solar panels aren't typically cheap, are they? I can't see this making those cars more affordable, which seems to be what everyone really wants: high MPG, low cost. Solar panels seem like a needless increase in cost to scrape up slightly better mileage.
 
2008-07-07 03:04:00 AM
A Solar roof for the Prius is already being sold by a third party for current gen vehicles. If I had a Prius and lived in the southern part of the US, I'd buy it.

SEV (new window)

Looks pretty good too.

www.solarelectricalvehicles.com
 
2008-07-07 03:35:58 AM
monkeymonkey:As soon as the price lowers, cars using this technology will probably take over the auto industry.

I think the problem is as simple as oil companies not wanting their fun to be over just yet. The current gas prices are very likely nothing more than them greedily cashing in because they can't stop the better technologies any longer.

And they'd love it if everyone was still tied to the pumps with Ethanol or Hydrogen, under the same business model as oil, at their mercy. Electric vehicles have been used indoors in places like warehouses for something like 50 years just because they can't use combustion engines indoors. So it's not new technology at all, there's just people working very hard to keep things the way they like.
 
2008-07-07 03:37:02 AM
IronTom:Ford and GM could never do this, because the cars might not look like the are from the 1960's anymore.

If they made cars look like they were from the 60's it'd be a definite improvement over what they have today.
 
2008-07-07 03:39:55 AM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

Because of the tiny amount of energy you could receive from that many square feet of solar paneling. If the whole car were literally totally covered in solar panels, 10 hours of direct sun would still not provide enough charge to drive the car one half of one mile, which is why they are not even trying to do that and are using it to power "part of energy needed for the air conditioner",

1: you would never save enough money in free energy vs having to pay for it to make the upgrade cost effective.

2: It probably causes more pollution/waste to make the panels than the little bit of energy you get from having them

/it's a marketing gimmick, most people have no idea how a hybrid works but the "environmentally conscious"/smug people who buy these things will win huge bragging rights for having the first "solar powered car" on their block.
 
2008-07-07 04:09:20 AM
Fark that! I'm gonna convert to Amish!!!

/horse and buggy
//crack O' dawn chores
///churning my own butter
////onion on my belt
 
2008-07-07 04:22:32 AM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.

/At least Toyota is doing something.


Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof. Your panels are undersized by at least a factor of 10 in ideal conditions. Probably much more under real world conditions.

A solar panel on the prius has the same utility as the tail fins on the 57 chevy. It'll make the yuppies driving it feel smugger.
 
2008-07-07 04:33:30 AM
A Solar roof for the Prius is already being sold by a third party for current gen vehicles. If I had a Prius and lived in the southern part of the US, I'd buy it.

Cue the southern redneck who would leave it in his garage (or more likely a carport) with shop lights on to charge it!
 
2008-07-07 04:47:20 AM
neilbradley:A Solar roof for the Prius is already being sold by a third party for current gen vehicles. If I had a Prius and lived in the southern part of the US, I'd buy it.

Cue the southern redneck who would leave it in his garage (or more likely a carport) with shop lights on to charge it!


Or maybe the one about the pole who drive one underwater! Hyuk
 
2008-07-07 05:00:09 AM
monkeymonkey:J. Frank Parnell -

Why bother with solar for cars? Some grad student at the University of Delaware made an electric Scion that gets 150 miles on a 2 hour charge.

Either he's a genius, or everyone working in the auto industry is retarded and/or evil.

Link
As soon as the price lowers, cars using this technology will probably take over the auto industry.


If this is the car I read about, $70,000 of the pricetag is just the battery.
 
2008-07-07 05:14:15 AM
From a butt view a 2004 and up Prius = a 2/3 scale Aztek.
 
2008-07-07 06:48:02 AM
Rethin:SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.

/At least Toyota is doing something.

Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof. Your panels are undersized by at least a factor of 10 in ideal conditions. Probably much more under real world conditions.

A solar panel on the prius has the same utility as the tail fins on the 57 chevy. It'll make the yuppies driving it feel smugger.


Really? (^)
 
2008-07-07 07:07:57 AM
SnarfVader:

Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof. Your panels are undersized by at least a factor of 10 in ideal conditions. Probably much more under real world conditions.

A solar panel on the prius has the same utility as the tail fins on the 57 chevy. It'll make the yuppies driving it feel smugger.

Really? (^)
Yes really. That article says 360 watts from 4 panels larger than the size of the prius's roof. And that's peak rating. Unless you park in the Mohave desert you'd never see that.

So I repeat, you'd see 200 watts at best from a solar panel the size of the roof.

But 360 watts is still an order of magnitude off of the 2-5 kilowatts that a car AC requires.
 
2008-07-07 07:09:03 AM
I totally farked up the quoting in that last comment.

/Damned beer
 
2008-07-07 07:23:59 AM
Toyota Prius with its own solar panels?

So were they using someone else's previously?
 
2008-07-07 07:26:50 AM
No one posted the dad's van from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?

For shame...
 
2008-07-07 07:27:25 AM
J. Frank Parnell:Why bother with solar for cars? Some grad student at the University of Delaware made an electric Scion that gets 150 miles on a 2 hour charge.

Either he's a genius, or everyone working in the auto industry is retarded and/or evil.


FTA:

Baker said he envisions a day where the wind and the sun create the power to charge an electric car.

That's what we need, big sailing masts on cars.
 
2008-07-07 08:17:01 AM
SnarfVader, your buddie Rethin is completely right. I came into this thread intending to say "I bet you could get 200 W tops outta that roof area." He already said that so let me address this from a different angle.

That link to Lapp's Prius says he spent about $2600 US dollars (not counting the extra batteries)on the PV addon and earned about 8 MPG for his trouble.

Not sure what his starting mpg is, but let's say it was 40 mpg. At 10000 miles per year it would consume 250 gallons. At 48 mpg, he'd use about 208.3 gallons. At $4/gallon he'd save 41.7 gallons or about 167 dollars. At that savings, the PV system would pay for itself in a mere 15 years. To be fair, the price of gas is likely to increase in that time, so let's say it was $8/gal. It would still take at least 7 years to break even.
 
2008-07-07 08:17:57 AM
Jalopnic (new window) has a picture.
 
2008-07-07 08:23:02 AM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.

/At least Toyota is doing something.


Also, you are going to save a TON of money on gas when you need to run your air conditioner in the late fall/winter/early spring.

For a large portion of the population, those solar cells will only actually be doing anything 1/4-1/2 of a year. From the fact that these most likely will not be a cheap upgrade, the cost savings for most people probably won't be worth it over the life of the car.

The only bonus I can see from this is that someone will able to find a fairly in-expensive way to re-route the electronics from the solar panel into the charging unit.
 
2008-07-07 08:37:13 AM
Rethin:Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof. Your panels are undersized by at least a factor of 10 in ideal conditions. Probably much more under real world conditions.

You don't drive 24 hours a day. Car air conditioning for the average person is used 1-2 hours a day tops, the panel is charging 8-12 hours a day. So yea it would be enough to run the air conditioning, especially if they make a capacitor just for that.
 
2008-07-07 08:58:18 AM
Maybe this isn't so effective now, but I think a point is coming where solar will be cheap enough that you'll be wasting money/space to NOT use them on available space. Roofs of houses, cars, etc.
 
2008-07-07 09:15:53 AM
Every solar panel built should decrease the cost of a solar panel because of the economics of building more of anything makes it cheaper.

/iPhones excluded
 
2008-07-07 10:00:11 AM
MindStalker:Rethin:Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof. Your panels are undersized by at least a factor of 10 in ideal conditions. Probably much more under real world conditions.

You don't drive 24 hours a day. Car air conditioning for the average person is used 1-2 hours a day tops, the panel is charging 8-12 hours a day. So yea it would be enough to run the air conditioning, especially if they make a capacitor just for that.


Because of angle of incidence, you'd be lucky to get 6 hours of partial charging at best. Your 8-12 hours is pure fantasy.

But then why include such an expensive solar panel for such a trivial use?

Its a styling choice. Like tail fins. Lets the yuppies feel greener.

If it added any real functionality, GM (or any manufacturer) would've included it on all their cars by now.
 
2008-07-07 10:01:17 AM
I already have a Prius with a solar panel, so I'm really getting a kick out of these replies

/Seriously, I do.
//Trickle charges the battery so I have a semi-full charge during the day, which is what they SHOULD do instead of this air-conditioning crap.
 
2008-07-07 10:14:21 AM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

*crickets*

Yeah, I thought so.



Gosh, You thought wrong. You do seem very smug though, maybe you should buy a Prius.

1) The panel can't collect anywhere enough energy to be of any use. You will be lucky to get 200W out of that thing for a few hrs per day. And once your battery is charged it is worthless since there is nowhere to store the energy. To keep the energy you would have to not charge your car so the battery can retain the solar energy... or have a separate battery for it.

2) You have to carry the panel and charge controller around 100% of the time but you don't need your AC all the time. Plus it looks like it adds drag to the car. It is even worse if this thing can't charge the main batteries and needs it's own storage.

3) The panels take a lot of energy to manufacture.
 
2008-07-07 10:14:55 AM
Quick calculation for the Prius shows ~9m^2 of horizontal surface area (maybe closer to 7 by the time you factor out the windows).

A 28% efficient cell covering 9 m^2 would net you around 6kWh for an 8 hour charge (assuming 300 W/m insolance)...

Since the amount of radiation reaching the ground wont change, really the future for these things is:

a) Reducing the cost of each panel
b) Increasing the efficiency of the panel
c) Improving the battery performance

Having said all that- its nearly impossible that you will have a car (a real car, not a single passenger bike with a cover) that powers itself based on the cells covering it.

Now a few extra square meters of panels on your house roof, with a plug in car might pay for itself in additional milage - assuming cheap panels and living in an area of high solar radiation. Given a cheap enough panel it might make economic sense to have one on the roof of the car - to eek out an extra 5 miles of pure battery time on the ride home from work.


Battery storage capacity, charging time and weight is where all teh sexy will be in the future. Come up with something thats awesome in two of those three and acceptable in the other and you are a very very rich person.
 
2008-07-07 10:34:20 AM
BTW, check any car review on the Prius and you will find people saying that air conditioning brings the Prius from 50mpg to less than 30mpg. If the solar panel can bring it back up to 40mpg it will be well worth it.
 
2008-07-07 10:48:53 AM
Driedsponge:The only bonus I can see from this is that someone will able to find a fairly in-expensive way to re-route the electronics from the solar panel into the charging unit.

This.

The solution for alternative energy will never be 'take out X and replace it with Y' but will be a collection of strategic approaches. Solar panels on the roof (and hood) of a car will be nice, cheap way of providing just a little more juice. It will stink for all of you with garages or car shelters, but for most of us who park outside all year round, it will actually save us a significant amount of money, especially if you live in the southwest.

Can we add a solar windshield screen as well ?
 
2008-07-07 11:15:51 AM
Dr.Knockboots:The Prius is a good car.. hell, it's a great car. But why the funk can't they make it good looking?

Personally I think it's cute, but either way it won't change much because the shape is determined by engineering. The Prius is a HEAVILY engineered car; interior space, safety and aerodynamics all come before styling. Which is how it should be, really, if not for consumer frivolity.

J. Frank Parnell:Some grad student at the University of Delaware made an electric Scion that gets 150 miles on a 2 hour charge. Either he's a genius, or everyone working in the auto industry is retarded and/or evil.

Production engineering. PEs are the guys who figure out how to make all the technology you enjoy affordable. And all too often, a good idea is just unfeasible for MP. If this one is, though, more power to him.

Rethin:Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof.

Wattage is not a good way to look at it. Usage and watt-hours are better. If the solar cells are hooked up to the battery, it recharges just by sitting there, whether or not it's driven. If it's left baking in a parking lot for hours on end, that's not a bad charge (maybe 1.5 kwh without ever getting plugged in). It's not a miracle, but every little bit helps in today's energy crisis. Heck, 'cuz of my job I often leave my car in airport open-air lots for days on end.

Look, the Prius isn't for everyone. It's for urban commuters with small families (quantity-wise and size-wise) who spend hours a day in stop-and-go traffic. The only reason the solar panel's a money sink at all right now is because solar tech just isn't there yet. But most fundamental issues people have with the Prius is that everyone decided it's the flagship car for environmental smug -- which is such an overblown case of broad-brush stereotyping that it's impossible to discuss it seriously. From an engineer's perspective, the Prius is a very well-designed car with a specific function in mind. The IMAGE of the Prius everyone has is about as close to reality as unicorn farts.

If solar cells become cost effective, they'll become common on car rooftops. The solution to the coming energy shortage has no silver bullets. This idea isn't nearly as crazy as many others.
 
2008-07-07 11:38:59 AM
dragonchild:
Rethin:Because a car airconditioner could easily draw 2 kilowatts (on the low setting). You'd be lucky to get 200 watts from a solar panel the size of the prius roof.

Wattage is not a good way to look at it. Usage and watt-hours are better. If the solar cells are hooked up to the battery, it recharges just by sitting there, whether or not it's driven. If it's left baking in a parking lot for hours on end, that's not a bad charge (maybe 1.5 kwh without ever getting plugged in). It's not a miracle, but every little bit helps in today's energy crisis. Heck, 'cuz of my job I often leave my car in airport open-air lots for days on end.


1.5kwh is on the high end of feasibility. You'd have to park in the mohave desert all day in summer for such a charge.

In reality you'd get far less on average. Every cloudy day, every day you parked in a garage or under a tree, or even every day you parked that wasn't in July would get you far less of a charge than that.

The Prius already has an on board generator capable of several orders of magnitude of power of charging than any roof top solar panel could supply. 30 seconds of the Prius's ICE running could net you as much KWH as your solar panel would get you all day long.

The reality is its just not cost effective to put a solar panel on your car. It might be worth it to put one on your house, but that's a whole nother story.
 
2008-07-07 12:02:53 PM
Yes, you cannot run your car only on solar panels. You can get 1-5% of the energy needs for your car from the solar panels. That in turn gets you increased car mileage.

Then it just becomes a question of what sort of ROI (return on investment) you are looking for. If you want an overnight ROI then go looking someplace else.

If you are looking for an investment that will pay for itself inside the lifetime of the car, then this could be a reasonable choice (depending upon your driving habits etc etc etc).

---

What I am hoping to see: large trucking companies mounting solar cells on the roofs of their trailers. A full size trailer is roughly 55'x10' and has a roof top of 550 SF (or 51 sq meters). Direct insolation runs about 1 kw/square meter. Between off angle collection and the efficiency of the collectors, the truckers could probably get 10% of that energy in a usable form (5kw). 5kw translates to about 5 hp. I don't see any trucker turning down 5 hp as a free add-on to their trucks.

I would expect to see UPS/FEDEX or WalMart implementing something like that first. If it saves them a couple of percentage points in gas, they'll do it.
 
2008-07-07 12:10:03 PM
SnarfVader:Ok, all of you Fark EngineersTM, please tell us why this is such a bad idea. Difficulty: No ragging on how the vehicle looks.

I love the Prius and it's a great car. But it is tons more efficient to put solar cells on your house and then charge you car from your house then it is to put it on the car itself.

Your house is in the sun all day, where most likely you car is not.

big solar panel on your house to get energy for your home and to let you power your electric car is a much better and efficient idea.
 
2008-07-07 12:18:21 PM
Rethin:

Really? (^)
Yes really. That article says 360 watts from 4 panels larger than the size of the prius's roof. And that's peak rating. Unless you park in the Mohave desert you'd never see that.


You're correct that they'd get no where close to generating the amount of electricity that an AC would use, but you are completely wrong about not generating peak electricity. Solar panels are rated to generate peak at 1000 watts/sq/meter of solar radiation. That rating is the average amount of sunlight reaching the earth. This is easily achieved in areas like Seattle on a sunny summer day.

Here's the amount of Solar Radiation (pops) my weather station near downtown Seattle registered on a cloudless day last week. It was near peak power during the middle of the day.

Yesterday (pops), between the passing clouds, we were actually above peak power @ 1050 watts/sq/meter reaching. And that's in a latitude as high as Seattle.

In an area like the Mojave, you'd actually be well above 'peak' solar radiation rates, so you'd be generating 1.20-1.30 the max rating of the solar panel. Just a clarification for you.
 
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