Diesel engine.
Diesel cycle

Solar Vehicles

Solar vehicles

Currently we are giving great importance to renewable energy and the reduction of pollution. Although the first step has been the  installation of solar panels or the development of electric vehicles.

However, the truth is that, these types of vehicles continue to pollute indirectly, because, generally, the origin of the electricity that moves them is usually not, since few homes have  renewable energy systems .

Solar Vehicle

It is a type of vehicle powered by an electric motor whose power comes from photovoltaic solar energy that is obtained from solar panels installed in the vehicle body.

These vehicles are different from those of solar charge, those in which solar energy is used, but obtained outside the vehicle.

Photovoltaic cells transform the sun's energy into electricity, which feeds the motor directly or is stored in the battery for later use.

For now, these types of vehicles are far from being used for transport. For now they are not very comfortable (one or two people), very expensive and with a very low autonomy. However, much work is being done on them, in view of being able to use them for conventional transport.

Parts of a Solar Vehicle


It usually has space for only one person, although it rarely has two.

It has elements common to a normal car such as brakes, accelerator, turn signals, ventilation mirrors, and, sometimes, speed control.

Electric System

Its objective is to control all the power that enters and leaves the assembly. The batteries are used to store energy for later use (usually when there is no sun).

These types of vehicles use different types of batteries, including lead, nickel-cadmium, and lithium. Lead ones are cheap and easier to use, but their power-to-weight ratio is bad.

Power electronics regulate the electricity of the car. Among its elements are the peak power followers, the motor control and the data acquisition system.

Peak power followers control the power that comes from the panels and maximize and supply the motor. Another task is to protect the battery from overcharges. The motor controller handles the electricity of the motor according to the speed that the vehicle wants.

Transmission Train

The engine and transmission assembly is special in these types of vehicles. An electric motor generally moves a wheel due to the low power required.

In solar vehicles, the motors run between 2 and 5 hp (1 to 3 kW) and the most common type is a brushless DC winding motor. This engine is also used as a transmission because gearboxes are not usually used

There are three most common types of transmission, the direct one being the most used:

  • Direct transmission with a single reduction
  • Variable ratio belt drive
  • Direct transmission

Mechanical Systems

They are designed in such a way that they keep weight and friction to a minimum, while stiffness. Titanium and other compounds are used to ensure a good stiffness / weight ratio.

They usually have three wheels, although some have four. The three wheels have two front wheels and one rear. The front determine the direction and the rear follows. Those of four work just like a conventional one.

The type of suspension usually varies, with the front most commonly used being the articulated double arm, while the rear is the type of articulated arm that is usually used on motorcycles.

The most commonly used brakes are the disc brakes thanks to its good braking and adjustment capability.

Solar Panels

It is the most distinctive part of this type of vehicles. They consist of hundreds of photovoltaic cells that transform sunlight into electricity.

Polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, or gallium arsenide cells are usually used. The cells are connected in chains that then join together form the panel. These panels have voltages close to the nominal of the battery. It seeks to own many cells, but in a small space.

These solar panels act as a quantity of small batteries connected to each other. The voltage that is produced is the sum of the voltages of each battery. However, if only one cell is in the shade, the entire panel stops working. To avoid this, bypass diodes are used in parallel with small segments of the chain, which allow current to flow out of cells that are not active.


Published: March 9, 2020
Last review: March 6, 2020