Solar pannels covering of a Model S body

Solar pannels covering of a Model S body

Why Elton Musk engineering have not offered any option of covering s Tesla with Solar panels on the frunk and trunk with option of a palm roof covered with solar cells?

Is it because the solar cells technology is too heavy to transport to worth the extra charging while you park your car while in visit, does the charging while you ride on the highway equal the expanditure just to carry the panels?

Have anyone here ever tought about this option?

cah197 | 3 May 2015

No. No one has ever though of this before...

I mean Elon owns a solar power company and didn't put 2 and 2 together!

joer293 | 3 May 2015

Taking this seriously, yes it's been thought of before by almost everyone. It comes down to simple math. Of course it looks great for the press & media, but the math brings reality.

The big issue, Model S rated WH/m = 290. The most advanced solar panels could produce about 500 - 650 usable Wh in that surface area at a cost of 2,000$ per vehicle best case. So you'd be able to drive 1 or 2 mph in full sunlight. Or you could leave a car parked all day, and get 12 miles of charge. Current electric prices = $0.12 for 89 miles. So, your looking at a gap so large, it's possible sure, but it makes no financial sense. Unless you are nasa, and solar is the only available energy source on Mars. For EarthLings, solar rooftops that reach 10,000 usable, and recharging a battery, is an acceptable loss. Oh, and I'm not even going to discuss the life expectancy of a flexible solar panel on a vehicle mechanic stress. You'd be replacing those panels every 2 years due to cracking.

How did GM pull off a solar powered car in the 80's? Easy, eliminate all safety concerns, basically drop the weight down from 4,500lb car to a 50lb bicycle with solar panels. Then you can achieve the required Wh/m = 10. Something completely unrealistic in a car.

Orthopod | 3 May 2015

Overweight cars

Timo | 4 May 2015

Cars need to carry people and cargo and be able to move in bit uneven terrain at highway speeds while being relatively safe and maneuverable. That necessitates quite big mass and rolling resistance.

Those "solar racers" that can run on solar alone are not cars by any sensible definition.

FREE ENERGY | 4 May 2015

Nissan Leaf do have one, a tiny one...

DTsea | 4 May 2015

Evolution you are about the 600th person to ask this question.

Red Sage ca us | 4 May 2015

If the Model S weighed under 1,200 lbs... Hey... When was the last time a BMW 7-Series, AUDI A8, or Mercedes-Benz S-Class weighed under 1,200 lbs...?

Timo | 4 May 2015

And even then it would still use something like 200Wh/mile because of aerodynamics.

Brian H | 4 May 2015

It won't work because arithmetic is too cruel. Heard of it?

jordanrichard | 4 May 2015

Correct me if I am wrong but, don't solar panels need to be flat? If so, find a flat horizontal panel on a Model S.

Timo | 4 May 2015

Not necessarily. Thin film solar panel can be nearly any shape and you can even bend them. They are just much weaker than cutting edge crystalline ones, so no help from there.

Those things are quite nice actually, I just recently saw one in outdoor exhibition that you could roll to pretty tight roll about three finger thick (about two inches) and foot long baton, and when unrolled it was about one meter long solar panel that you could use to charge your electrical gizmos while out there in middle of nowhere.

Problem with cars is that physics of moving things a size of a car just plain requires a lot of energy. No way around that. A solar panel that could theoretically charge while you drive is large enough that you get your entire house electric needs from it and then some.

I mean 300Wh/mile at 60mph is 18kW. It requires pretty large house before you use more than that. It surprises many people how much energy is being used by that simple action of moving from place a to place b.

spacevertex | 4 May 2015

Fisher had an option for solar panels on the rooftop, a 5500$ option.
The ROI was 500 years.

spacevertex | 4 May 2015


spacevertex | 4 May 2015


Rocky_H | 5 May 2015

@jordanrichard, Solar panels can be either the rigid type of the thin film ones, but they each have pros and cons, so it's pick your poison:

Solid silicon ones:
Pros: Much better energy output/efficiency
Cons: Inflexible, heavy

Thin film:
Pros: Flexible, can be mounted on various surfaces
Cons: Low energy output/efficiency

So the only ones you could mount on the curved surfaces of a car don't produce much energy, so they're not worth it. That's why it's much better to do your solar really well over here, with good panels in a stationary place, and then transfer that into the battery of a vehicle to use really well over here. It doesn't work as well trying to mash them together into the same place.

Brian H | 5 May 2015

Even the rigid ones will only drive a lightweight glorified bicycle.

Rocky_H | 5 May 2015

@Brian H, It's not quite that bad. I did see an article with a picture of it with a big silicon solar panel mounted on a rack on the roof of an old Volkswagon Beetle (extended out past the edges of the car). It can apparently run from that because the Beetle is a pretty lightweight car, but with limitations: not much power, not much speed, and terrible aerodynamics.

Brian H | 7 May 2015

Slow and low-flying?

Timo | 7 May 2015

Getting car to move is no biggie, you can push a car in movement and humans have only few HP. It's the useful speed that is the problem.

DTsea | 7 May 2015

Timo... and going uphill. I sure cant push a tesla up a hill.

Guy2095 | 7 May 2015

Tsea, sure you can; it's just a matter of correct traction and gearing.

DTsea | 8 May 2015

Guy 2095, he was talking about pushing car with your body. I dont have enhanced traction or gearing integrated in my body.

Guy2095 | 9 May 2015

DTsea, that is using your body, human HP as Timo was saying, where he correctly said it is possible but speed is the issue.

You didn't specify buck naked or how steep the hill when you whimped out and said you couldn't do it.

DTsea | 9 May 2015


1. Wimp has no h. (Just saving brian the trouble).

2. A 5 degree slope would require about 420 lb of push to move the car against gravity. For you maybe thats nothing. For me, its something.

A little basic physics goes a long way!

Guy2095 | 9 May 2015

And as I said all you need is gearing(leverage) and traction(something to push against without slipping) to do that.

DTsea | 9 May 2015

Gearing when you push a car?

Yes the car can move verrrrrrryyy slowly on the equivalent power of a human... 1/3 horse... but not as applied to the car by a human pushing.

Red Sage ca us | 10 May 2015

It is 2015. One of my Cousins told me the other day in a matter-of-fact fashion that the Toyota Prius was entirely solar powered. ~*sigh*~

snowy | 15 May 2015

Powering the car electronics alone would enable leaving the car parked outdoors indefinitely without it needing to be plugged in. That would be useful.