Solar Cars: Possible But Not Practical

A lot of people talk about how switching to alternative energy sources could help out with solving the problem of global warming. Some examples of these alternative energy sources are wind and solar power, as well as bio fuels. I am going to focus on one of these solar power. I believe that solar could very well be a new and popular clean energy source. But solar-powered cars are the main thing that interests me.

The term “solar-powered car” is kind of deceiving because you see it and think, “Oh wow! That car runs completely on solar power”.  But the thing is, cars only partially run on solar energy. As I was reading an article I found out that cars that use solar energy also have a battery, which powers the engine, but solar panels on the top of the car can charge that battery. Also some other cars can use solar power just to power the headlights.

There are a few reasons that cars do not run on solar power. First, solar-powered cars are very expensive. A reasonable priced solar car can only go up to 30 mph, and cars need to be able to reach highway speeds. A race solar powered racecar can go 60 miles per hour but cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And most people today don’t have that kind of money to spend on eco-friendly cars.

The second reason that completely solar cars would never work is that they look ridiculous and look like a vehicle from an alien planet! And they only seat one person. Now I now you might say that it would look cool but honestly? Do you want to drive around in this?

Picture Credit: howstuffworks

And the lastly, cars can’t run completely on solar energy because of the weather. Your car has to work rain or shine and cloudy or clear. So when the sun is not out one day, how are you going to get to work? That is why cars have solar panels as well as electric energy, so that you can charge it up on a sunny day but still be able to make it through the stormy days.

So is a completely solar powered car possible? Yes under the right circumstances. And is it in most people’s budgets? Probably not. So I think that solar cars are a topic that we will need to ease into and evolve from car model to car model to make the most efficient type of car that uses some solar power.


7 responses to “Solar Cars: Possible But Not Practical”

  1. johns0117 says :

    This really opened my eyes to how hard it is to make a completely solar-powered car. I mean you would need so much solar energy, and who wants to drive around in a car like the one in that picture. It is not practical because there is no room for any luggage or for other people. Great Post!

  2. clarkbeast says :

    If an electric car has a battery, then it doesn’t matter if the solar panels that charge it are on the car or not, right?

    • austinh0017 says :

      well it depends because you car can not really charge during the night but when you are driving to work during the week or getting groceries, the panels will be able to collect more sunlight.

      • clarkbeast says :

        My brother-in-law is working on proposals to put solar canopies over parking lots at office-park type settings. You could drive to work, plug in, and be topped off before heading back home. Plus, on a hot day, your car would stay nice and shaded.

        The whole system would be tied into the electricity grid, so you’d top off your electric car from normal sources on days when the sun isn’t shining. Or (more likely, at least in the near term), if a sunny day were providing more power than needed by the handful of electric cars in the parking lot, the excess electricity would go into the grid to power whatever.

  3. kaylac0017 says :

    Wow! I always thought that solar powered cars were the way to go! I never even thought about the financial aspect of these cars. I think that if everyone were to start driving cars that looked the way the one in the picture did, however, no one would think anything of it. They wouldn’t be weird because they would be the norm. The hardest thing to do would be making it the norm. Great job on your post!

  4. zaym0017 says :

    Wow ! This topic is awesome. I am very interested if you could see that a car could run totally on solar, but it could also run in the rain, cloudiness, and all other types of weather. It really could be very awesome to make a car totally on solar

  5. benb0017 says :

    I really like your post, Austinh. It was well written, included lots of links to sites you used, and gave many (not just one) examples to back up your point. Excellent job.

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