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Old 03-26-2011, 11:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Spotted in the wild: 2nd gen. Prius PHEV with DIY solar panel roof

This isn't the kind of car I would usually expect to see sitting in a driveway in this little town...

"The first plug-in hybrid solar electric vehicle in Canada."



I knocked on the door and ended up talking to a student who's modding vehicles in his automotive engineering program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology .

The students there didn't actually mod this particular Prius - it was donated, already modded, by an Ontario utility company involved in vehicle-to-grid technology research. The students are just studying it.

(The guy I talked to is however involved with the EcoCAR competition - his team is fielding a Saturn Vue converted to 100% EV (80 kWh pack). I happened to have the ForkenSwift with me, so we had a chuckle showing him that too.)

Anyway, the Prius is a 12 kWh Hymotion kit with 240 watts of high-efficiency photovoltaic cells in 3 panels attached to the roof.

The edge shape of the array could certainly use some massaging, that's for sure....







I haven't had much luck finding fuel economy performance details about this particular car, though it was also featured at GCC (Green Car Congress: Hymotion Plug-In Conversion Will Also Use Solar Panels), and in a newsletter by the company that had it modified (http://www.veridian.on.ca/pdf/LDC_To...etter_2007.pdf).

The car has also been to Madison WI for hybridfest.

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Old 03-26-2011, 03:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I love those kinds of chance meetings with like minded people.

240watts is a decent array. I'm assuming it charges the hymotion pack.

That salt spray pattern tells an ugly story. I wonder how many watts that consumes at 100KPH? It reminds me of all the Prius Taxis here in Vancouver that have the Taxi signs on their roofs right at the peak facing the airflow. I keep wanting to turn them 90 degrees. It hurts. Nice orange tho.


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Old 03-26-2011, 06:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I wondered the same thing about the aero energy consumption of those panels.

Their impact wouldn't be small - they increase both frontal area and drag coefficient. Their net effect would depend a lot on how the vehicle is used.
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Old 03-26-2011, 06:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Very cool. I wonder how much the solar panel helps fuel efficiency.
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Old 03-26-2011, 07:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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...anythig "free" is good.

...except maybe "free" drag!
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Old 03-26-2011, 08:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If the panels are actually putting out 240 watts (probably rated at the ideal inclination and azimuth) then that's roughly 1/3 hp which is a good little chunk considering it's working as long as the sun shines. Of course there's battery losses and it won't be putting out 240 watts all the time so... testing required. But the potential is there for a good benefit. 240 watts almost covers the electrical overhead in a prius so it would be a bit like alternatorless on a regular engine.
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Old 04-08-2011, 10:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The way to do this would be with flexible panels conforming directly to the vehicle. The have slightly less output but WAY less drag.

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Old 04-08-2011, 11:13 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree - in the configuration we see on that car, they'd probably be further ahead with flexible ones. Could cover the hood as well.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Anyone remember Shark skinz?

They could have made a truly useful product with flexible solar panels integrated in a vehicle wrap.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thin film flexible panels are currently 80 percent the output of hard panels, however are less dependent on orientation, so every surface not glass could be covered. Of course it would help to keep them clean.

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