If you are interested in solar energy and want an energy efficient way to get around, then it’s time to learn how to make a solar car. The rising costs of petroleum based fuels around the world are prompting many to develop cars that use alternative sources of energy, including bio-diesel and compressed natural gas. Many universities have embarked on building solar cars for research purposes, trying out new technologies for capturing and converting solar energy into usable power.
What you’ll need:
- Electric engine
- Solar cells
- Wheels and suspension hardware
- Create a basic design. Before you build your solar car, you should have a basic idea of what it will look like, as well as the type of materials it will be built from. This will be the blueprint from which you will build your solar car from. Most solar cars are low to the ground, with a very low roof line and tear drop shape to minimize drag.
- Choose the solar cells. There are many types of solar cells to choose from, ranging from cheap, but inefficient cells to expensive yet high quality cells. The number of choices depends on your budget and power generation goals.
- Build the frame and body. The frame should be built from lightweight alloys or composites. The body should be made from fiberglass, Kevlar or other lightweight materials. The solar cells will cover most of the car’s body, so a wing-like surface that can catch as much sunlight as possible should be considered.
- Install the electric engine. Most solar cars use axial flux and brushless DC motors. Batteries will also be needed in order to store the energy captured by the solar cells and power the solar car’s electric motor.
- Install the wheels, tires and suspension system. Not only will the solar car need a quality suspension and steering system, but it will also need lightweight aluminum or alloy rims with low resistance tires made for solar powered racers. In the past, most solar cars used bicycle wheels due to their low cost and light weight.
- Test your solar car. Pick a sunny day and find a lightly traveled road for your solar car test. Since your solar car will most likely be low in profile, it will be hard for other motorists to see. For this reason, you should always use a lead car and a follow car during the test drive.
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