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bennelson 07-04-2012 09:53 PM

Ben's first SOLAR-POWERED electric car!
Hey guys,

I got to have some fun the other day building my very first SOLAR-POWERED electric car!

The goal was to power the car completely from PV, so that I wouldn't need an AC charger or ever have to plug in.

The platform for the project is a PowerWheels Jeep.

bennelson 07-07-2012 11:08 PM

I did a little more work on the Solar-Powered-Wheels Jeep.

First off, I painted the solar rack - the usual way, just a can of gloss black Rustoleum spray paint.

The rack fits nicely through the holes drilled in the plastic body, and down to rest on the steel frame.

I was trying to figure out the best way to work on connecting the frame to the solar rack, but it was hard to get at, and not at working height. Flipping everything upside down solved both problems. The Jeep was nice and stable for working on. I was then able to use some short metal straps, and self-tapping screws to connect the conduit solar rack to the frame of the Jeep.

Here's the Jeep back right-side-up with the PV installed. I also put in a 12v 18AH battery.

Here's a detail view of how the PV is attached to the frame. I used machine screws with extra-large heads, with one edge ground off. That went in the slot of the frame, with the bolt going through a hole in the conduit, which then got a stainless steel washer and nylock nut.

Looks like everything is pretty good. Only thing left to do is to build some sort of hood replacement to cover the battery and protect the solar charge controller from the rain!

I'm not sure of the condition of the battery either, but hey, I already had it. So far, my total investment in the project is one stick of 1/2" conduit, and a can of black spray paint, plus some misc hardware I already had. The Jeep itself I got for free on Craigslist. For some reason, when the batteries are dead, and they lose the charger, people are happy to give these cars away!

JethroBodine 07-08-2012 12:39 AM

The big question is, how does the little one like it?

Definitely a great project. No more lost chargers, go inside for lunch and have a full(er) charge when you get back to driving, and shade all in one.:thumbup:

bennelson 07-08-2012 01:28 AM


Originally Posted by JethroBodine (Post 315798)
The big question is, how does the little one like it?

She has mixed feelings about it. Sometimes it's all she want's to do, and other times she would rather be on the swing.

She's still on the young/small size for the toy car. She sort of needs to sit on the edge of the seat to reach the pedal. I even tried adding a block of wood to the pedal to make it easier for her to reach, but she would have none of that. Everything has to be either just like the big kids would do or nothing at all!

I figure she should have a fair number of years with this Jeep.

California98Civic 07-08-2012 08:21 AM


Originally Posted by bennelson (Post 315804)
She has mixed feelings about it. Sometimes it's all she want's to do, and other times she would rather be on the swing.

Awesome. I remember my daughter at this age. I love the moment in your excellently-edited video (kudos) where you ask her about the height of the roof and she just looks around. Hahaha! You seem like a fun father, Ben. Way cool.

bennelson 07-27-2012 11:22 AM

Here's a little more detail about how I attached the solar panels to the roof rack. Some solar panels don't really have nice attachment points on them, or require fancy (read: mail-ordered & expensive) fasteners.

Instead, I just made my own by modifying bolts from the hardware store.

Of course, all that matters in the end is that the vehicle works, and that the Little Girl likes playing with it. I think that it's a big YES on both accounts.

PS: Harbor Freight picked up on my blog and put this on their web page and Facebook page.

Cobb 07-27-2012 11:37 PM

My neighbors kids have one and I kidd them all about being green, owning an ev, etc, etc, etc. :thumbup:

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