Nuts and Bolts of Solar Power: Giving Your Car Sun Stroke

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solar powered carHopefully we’ll soon move into an automotive age when cars are running on empty. No, I don’t mean because gas prices are going to become so outrageous that no one can afford to drive; we’re talking the dawn of solar powered cars. Yes, cars powered by our good old friend the sun! There’s some nuts-and-bolts to it. To be more specific we’re talking electric vehicles that are powered by renewable energy obtained from solar panels attached to the vehicle’s roof. Am I blowing your mind?

A quick solar power automotive lesson for you hotshot: the photovoltaic cells convert the Sun’s energy directly into electrical energy—this how it runs. Sounds great on paper if you live in such places as Australia—where they hold an annual 3000 kilometer solar race across the continent. But what about those who inhabit such foggy havens such as my beloved San Francisco?

Despite prototype solar vehicles at car shows, aforementioned highly publicized Aussie solar auto races, and the introduction of electric cars (such as the Tesla, that can be powered by sun rays, though the company is in need dire need of a several million dollar government bail out), mass productions of solar cars is still a long way away.

But there are a few solar options you can do to make your vehicle solar friendly:

1. Businesses are popping up where they can convert your vehicle to run on solar power, such as  Solar Electrical Vehicles of SoCal. They can set your car up to be fitted with roof solar panels on such vehicles as, the Toyota Prius, Highlander EV, Rav4 EV, the Ford Escape Hybrid, amongst many others. The solar panels can generate up to 20 miles of charge per day without requiring a plug-in.  Solar-tastic!

2. Are you looking for an inexpensive, vehicle to run errands around town? (This implies to your sunny town of course.) Search no further than the SUNNev solar car. For a mere $5,500 they’ll provide a do-it-yourself kit to build your very own solar-powered muscle car. (Well, maybe not a muscle car, but it is powered by the sun and that’s pretty kick-ass.) How fun is this, the kit includes step-by steps instructions, and it can be assembled without the benefit of special tools in approximately 80-120 hours. Solar-rific!

The general idea behind solar cars is one or more of the following. It’s a great way to:

    1. Reduce fuel consumption! Hurrah!
    2. Reduce dependence on foreign oil! Hurrah!
    3. Save money on fuel costs! Hurrah!

      It might be a while before the mass consumer production of solar vehicles, but for now you can still take a few measures to help bring America that much closer to reducing our energy consumption. USA! USA! USA!

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