10 Benefits And Disadvantages of Solar Energy Cars

Tim Hamlin
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No Emission of Gases to the Atmosphere

Under the sun, your solar-powered car can get the energy to run without any emission of gases. Sounds nice, right? Well, the good thing of having solar panels is that it does not emit any harmful substance. However, solar powered vehicles are more vulnerable to the elements particularly to tornadoes, thunderstorms, earthquakes, and wind storms.

Preservation of Natural Resources

Energy production from solar power does not produce any pollution. This reduces the greenhouse effect and helps in keeping the air clean and healthy.

Power Production Solar energy is freely available from the sun. This conserves valuable resources of other sources, actually saving the money and time required for their production.

Saves Space As compared to fossil fuel plants, solar energy production requires much less land for generation. This becomes especially important and precious in densely populated areas.

Cost Effectiveness The producing cost for solar energy is low. This further boosts its demand in the market and makes it available to an even wider clientele.

Efficiency Renewable energy from solar is easily available to everyone at all levels of technical know how. This helps in creating a large power consuming market.

Safety The energy efficiency and eco-friendly nature of solar energy production makes it extremely safe for the environment.

Employment Solar energy technology is highly labor friendly. Growing usage of solar energy production demands more people to work for it. Thus employment reaches people from more technical backgrounds who are thereby educated and trained for the future generations.

Grid Interactions Solar power is highly compatible with grid technology, as it does not need any kind of special electronic devices for storing.

Becomes More Popular Day by Day Solar Power is having a rapid growth rate. The market of solar energy is ever-expanding with ever increasing number of people willing to go for it.

There Are No Fuel Costs

Costs aside, one of the best benefits of owning a green car is that nothing is needed to power it.

Once charged by the sun, your car will continue running until you run out of power.

You don’t need to find a gas station, fill up the tank or worry about running out of fuel.

You do not need to maintain your car by changing oil, cleaning the air filter, or filling the gas tank.

All of the maintenance involved in owning a car is eliminated.

There are no oils and fluids which will need to be changed periodically to prevent breakdown.

A green car needs virtually no maintenance.

Comfortable While Driving

Although solar cars are still far from mass production, the future is bright for the green cars. In the meantime, there are several reasons why you should start saving for a solar car. You can’t afford it now, so in the meantime, you can take advantage of these benefits. That way, as soon as you get the car, you’ll be ready to enjoy them!

Modest Available Power

To put the power of the sun into perspective, you need to consider that it takes eight minutes for the sun to completely illuminate the earth. The power of the sun will not only determine how much a solar car will accelerate, but also helps recharge the battery at a much faster rate than solar panels do. The good news about having a solar car is it can travel the equivalent distance to eighty miles, after six hours, in full sunlight. A solar car, however, is not like a solar panel and therefore not an alternative to the non-polluting transportation of electric cars.

Expensive Solar Panels

One of the big disadvantages of using the sun to power an automobile is the tremendous cost of solar panels and the fact that they do not last very long. In order to locate an affordable solar panel, you need to purchase them in mass quantities, which further reduces the cost.

Expensive, To Repair.

Another disadvantage of solar-powered cars is the cost of repairing the automobile because they contain so many sources of electrical breakdowns. Charging a power storage device that is completely dead, to 100 percent capacity takes the equivalent amount of energy as driving 25 miles in a full-size electric car. The amount of energy stored in a typical adult solar car battery is enough to take the average five-mile trip around your neighborhood. The difference is the adult solar car requires at least six hours of unfiltered sunlight to be fully charged to 100 percent.

The Renewable, Clean Energy Source

With Some Challenges.

There is no doubt that solar is a renewable energy source. It is the power of the sun that creates this fuel. For thousands of years, people have been using the sun’s light to heat their homes, heat water for their showers, and cook their meals.

However, it is only recently, in the last few decades, that technology has advanced to the point where we can use solar in addition to, or even instead of, fossil fuels.

There are several types of solar energy.

Solar Heating and Cooling

The sun is the ultimate source of power, so these energy types are a great tool for those who want a greener energy option for their homes.

We are still in the early stages of solar energy.

In spite of the vast potential for solar power, there are some limitations, as well.

A Few of the Benefits of Using Solar Energy

Solar is inexpensive. Compared to the initial cost of solar energy, the cost of maintenance is low. There are few, if any, moving parts that need maintenance. After you’ve installed solar energy systems, they will take care of themselves.

There Are No Energy Costs

How much money would you save every year? As we already mentioned solar power cars don't involve any kind of energy costs or maintenance.

You won't spend any money on fuels, battery replacements, recharging your car, or even on repairs. The solar cell is expected to have a lifetime of 25 years or even more and the solar energy cars are expected to have the same low maintenance costs as fuel-powered cars.

We all know that insurance is a great money saver too. You don't need to purchase it as car manufacturers are very confident in the low-risk of operating a solar powered car. That means no additional payments or costs to the insurance companies.

This is a pretty big advantage as well, compared to traditional cars. Since the insurance companies save a lot of money, the costs are lower for you.

The Solar-Powered Cars Are Barebones

The description for the solar-powered car could well be "it just goes." This is the case because solar energy won't power all the electronics of a modern vehicle. Besides, there's no cost as carbon dioxide. Even though the Musk's company has kept power consumption to a minimum, the Zero Emission Motors Corporation had to drop a few amenities for the sake of efficiency. The luxury and comfort of a traditional vehicle with a trunk, seating for a passenger, and night-vision goggles are all gone. The company did try to incorporate a few small comforts, including leather seats and a power window in each door.

The solar-powered car only reached about 62 mph, and only for a short time, but it was a major step forward. The Zero Emission Motors Corporation is proud of its Solar Challenger and the possibility that it could be used for a lot more than fun. The company believes that this vehicle could be on the commercial market in the next 1-2 years if more money can be raised. Though these cars may not be available yet, solar-powered cars are already becoming a reality in some countries.

Development of Technology

As is the case with many other inventions, the history of solar cars is a notable one. The first solar car was built as far back as 1876 by an inventor named Hermann Fürstner. The vehicle was however incapable of taking to the road because of its poor design.

However, this did not deter the inventor from trying again. A few years later, in 1895, Fürstner showed another prototype at the World's Fair in Prague that was capable of achieving a speed of 16.6 kmph (10.3 mph) on the road. This vehicle however used steam as its primary energy source.

It was only in 1990 that the first official and working solar powered vehicle was developed and taken for a drive on the Solar Mobility project by Energy Conversion Devices. Looking at how the technology has progressed since then, solar cars are competing in 11 classes of vehicle including automobiles and motorcycles.

Though they have not yet been mass produced, popular models for these vehicles are steadily making their way into the market. The first solar vehicle to record a speed over 100 kmph (63 mph) was developed in 2003 by students at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Low Maintenance Costs

Unlike the maintenance that is associated with fossil fuel powered cars or internal combustion cars, solar powered cars do not require any sort of petroleum or gasoline for mechanics. The various parts of this car have been designed in a manner that is completely reusable, and the need for replacement and repair is significantly reduced.

Savings on Fuel Consumption

Since no fuel is used in the process of driving, the car's consumption of fuel is vastly reduced. Thus, your expenditure on fuel can be cut down significantly.

Zero Emissions

Since no harmful emissions are released from the car, it is a more environment friendly alternative. The car does not add to the already existing pollution in the atmosphere and as a result, it helps to maintain the cleanliness of the earth.

No Noise Pollution

The engine of Solar Powered cars does not make any type of noise while driving. This being so, it also helps to reduce the noise pollution caused by cars.

Performance Outperforms Other Fuel Powered Cars

The engine equipped in the solar powered cars is semi-high-performance. This additional benefit thus helps to better perform than fuel powered cars and as a result, it achieves a quicker acceleration. Moreover, it has a better top speed and more torque which ultimately is one of the higher ranking features of these cars.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Even though this technology is not yet widespread, there are a few reasons why we should think twice before lining the streets with solar panels.

The first disadvantage of solar energy cars is the cost. The cost of this type of energy is much higher than conventional energy and it needs a long time before it can become competitive. If we compare the cost of solar energy with other types of energy sources such as coal, oil or natural gas it can be said that solar energy is around 20 to 40 times more expensive. In order to match with the costs of conventional energy, using solar energy would require a much higher level of technological offering and reduction of costs. The other problem is that, it requires a lot of space and the technology is available in limited market currently.

The biggest problem with this alternative is that people don’t like the idea of using solar panels on the roofs to generate energy, even though it’s the most effective way to use this type of energy. What most people want is the power to be generated off site, so they can have access to it without having to install and use solar panels. People think that solar panels can be dangerous and unsightly, many governments in world are putting a lot of effort into making them cheaper, more powerful, more efficient, and giving them a more modern look.

High Initial Costs

The first and most obvious disadvantage is the high initial cost associated with purchasing a hybrid car. The high cost will be offset by lower running costs but the initial outlay will be more than that for a similar sized petrol or diesel model.

A large number of solar cells are needed to provide sufficient electrical power and this adds to the overall cost of the car. Although the cost of solar cells is decreasing steadily and this means that there is a possibility that a car will be produced with a price point that is affordable to most people.

The solar energy car will be more expensive to maintain than conventional cars. The battery will need to be replaced more often and the technology is relatively new. Because of this, expert advice should be taken on routine servicing and repairs.

The solar panels can be unreliable if they are not kept clean. If the panels are not regularly washed it is more likely that they will allow dirt to build up which will reduce the amount of power that they generate. These panels are often very expensive to replace and if left neglected, they can result in the car not functioning at all.

In cities, where there is a lot of road congestion, then it is going to take a little longer to charge the car. Road congestion will scupper this mode of travel for most of the time and using the car to get to and from work only makes sense if the journey to work is fairly short.

Weather Dependent

Solar panels need a certain amount of consistent sunlight to deliver a decent amount of energy and they are definitely weather dependent. In a cloudy village, you aren’t going to see as much energy as you would in a sunny one.

Low Maintenance Costs

For many, having a solar grid installed can save them a lot of time and money over all, since there is no need to pay energy bills as you would with a traditional grid, plus there are fewer maintenance costs for solar powered cars.

However, it is important to remember that while the panel needs very little maintenance, they will eventually wear out, so that is something you should keep in mind when deciding to go with solar energy to power your vehicle.

Covers both Daily and Emergency Use

There are some vehicles designed to use solar energy like the Solaris or the Solar Roadways, which are ideal for either high traffic areas or those who wish to live off-grid.

Depending on your off-grid set up, you can power your entire home, including all of your 12V appliances. This means that if your panels are large enough and you have battery backups, you can live without a conventional power grid in your home.

Storing Solar Energy is Relatively Expensive

Most systems today, must also include some type of battery storage, as well as a way to repurpose the sun's energy, making it usable when the sun is either not shining, or shining but unable to charge the battery.

This means that these systems are using complex electronics and battery storage systems, which is why they can be so expensive. What's worse, batteries need to constantly be replaced, which makes the overall cost of solar energy storage even more expensive, over time, than a regular fuel source, such as gasoline or diesel. It also takes a long time to recoup your investment in a solar energy car, due to the need to purchase these expensive storage systems.

The Solar Panel Uses a Lot of Space

There’s no doubt that the main benefit of using solar panels for cars is that it’s a renewable energy source. However, It is also considered a drawback because of the size of the equipment.

A good-sized car solar panel, which is used to charge the 12V battery, will take up about 50 square feet. That’s about the same size as a big car space. So if you have an SUV or even a sport utility that has a small trunk, it won’t fit there. If you really want to use solar energy, then you should not use your car.

Causes Pollution During the Manufacture of Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured with toxic chemicals and are manufactured in factories that pollute the environment. In the United States, manufacturers import the solar cells from countries such as China, Malaysia, and Singapore.

In China, the lack of pollution regulations has led to some manufacturers releasing pollution into the air without penalty. The transportation of solar panels around the world also comes with pollution. The transportation of goods from Asia, to Europe, to the United States is done by boat, which is the least efficient mode of transportation.

A transportation study found that for every 100g of lead produced, almost 1g of sulfur dioxide and 3g of carbon dioxide were released. The production of solar panels is the leading cause of pollution in the solar industry.

History About the First Solar Racing Challenge

The World Solar Challenge was first held in 1987 as a way to promote the (solar) technology and so did the "American Solar Challenge" in 1991.

These events are still held by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, which was created in 1904 on the initiative of automotive pioneer, Henri Fournier and the French motor industry. It's still active and promotes its interest by organizing races, as well as other events, as the Paris-Dakar Rally.

The American Solar Challenge is one of the competitions that are held under the umbrella of the Federation Internationale de I'lautomobile. This event followed the Solar Challenge events held in other parts of the world. It started in 1991 and is held every two years. It covers about a 3,000-mile distance from the Arizona border to the Atlanta center in the U.S.

The race stops at several locations during the course of the event, where there are exhibition and competition events. It’s not a technical or endurance race, but it’s designed to showcase the (solar) cars as well as the integrated computing and communication technologies.

The North American teams try to go as long as possible with only the power generated by the solar cells, while using as little energy as possible from the batteries.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering converting to solar energy, most experts agree that the first step is to make sure that your home or business is energy efficient. Proper insulation, energy star rated appliances, and new windows will not only save you money but make for a more comfortable home and business. This will make your solar power easier to utilize and fill your needs without having to pay for energy from a company.

Developing a relationship with your energy company is vital. Many of them can help you determine how much your energy usage is and which sources are cost effective.

A good community outreach program is important because it helps you to become more familiar with community businesses.

A big financial benefit that comes along with solar energy generation is that taxpayers can often write off the cost of solar panels. This can drastically reduce the cost of installing and using solar panels.

You can start to feel more secure in your finances when you can budget your monthly payments and lower the amount that you are spending on your energy. Not having these expenses is also a good way to start building your credit.

Solar energy is a low maintenance fuel source and is often a great asset to homeowners and business owners. It offers a complete opposite to the circumstances of owning a home or business that is reliant on oil. The energy can be changed so that it is higher or lower depending on how much energy you wish to obtain.