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Old 07-25-2007, 07:00 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Idea for using Solar Power......

Ok im not no electrician so I need everyone's input here.

This is my simple idea, on my 93 Civic the alternator belt is seperate this makes it easy to remove for improved gas mileage (it's still on). Anyways couldn't you just get a few solar panals add 2 extra batteries and let the solar panals keep the batteries charged. So I could drive without the alternator all day long?

How much power would the panals have to produce to do that. My commute to work is just 15 miles and then the car would sit in the sun for 9 hours then drive 15 miles home. It would just be Solar panal -> power inverter -> batteries correct?

I don't even know how much extra MPG i can get with taking off the battery but I think I am in the right direction. And how big of a panal would you need to keep 1 battery running off of the sun without draining it?

The only thing that sucks right now is my wife uses the car as a Daily Driver, but this is just an idea.

Lets here your input.
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:25 AM   #2
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I think people have discussed this before and it turns out you pretty much can't make enough power with a reasonable number of panels. You might want to search and find the details. solar and alternator would be good search terms.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:20 AM   #3
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It works in theory, but I read the post on MetroMPG.com that kind of bunks the savings: http://www.metrompg.com/posts/alternator-optional.htm

"Unless you happen to have a source of cheap or free batteries, you need to do the math before jumping on this mod as a way to save money."
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
I think people have discussed this before and it turns out you pretty much can't make enough power with a reasonable number of panels. You might want to search and find the details. solar and alternator would be good search terms.
I think some people HAVE done this, but Im not sure if they are using solare panels to recharge the batteries. I know someone used deep-cycle batteries and was able to make complete commutes where the battery was able to power the WHOLE trip. Im not sure how log the trip was but I would love to replace my regualr battery with a deep-cycle one.

This is interesting timing as I was JUST thinking of a similar project where I use a solar panel to lessen the load on the alternater. This is a very SAFE way that removes any worries about running out of power. Im not sure how much FE you would gain, but the alternater would have to work a tinsy bit less. Worth the effort- probably not because the instantaneous draw is prob way too small for the alternater to really appreciate.

However, if you disconnected the alternator then it seems viable IFF you used deep-cycle batteries and maybe a couple of panels.

I was actually trying to see if I could reduce electric bill at home by attaching solar panels to a battery with an DC-AC invertor to power smaller devices. It would take a while to pay off, but would be interesting. I found a Xantrex battery on Amazon (although I could prob just buy regular cra battery for cheaper) and a 15 Watt solar panel to charge the battery. Here are links. BTW the solar panel's size might be perfect for mounting on your rear trunk, so it wont cause any aero drag. You MAY also be able to fit one in your rear dash. Would do you think??? These MIGHT be enough to trickle charge deep-cycles if you dont have long commute and are easy on lights,radio ect
Battery link- this is CONVENIENT all in one battery kit- can prob get more power for less money if you just buy plain car battery.
http://www.amazon.com/Xantrex-XPower...375420&sr=8-16

Link for Solar Panel:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...X0DER&v=glance
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:33 AM   #5
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A 15 watt panel wouldn't save too much. You could power one CFL light. For the price of equipment I don't think panels and deep cycle batteries could easily offset the savings from not running an alternator. As that MetroMPG article showed, they needed something over 300 watts for regular usage, you would need a big van for the surface area for that much solar paneling I imagine. But if you're doing it for the fun of raising fuel economy or decreasing gas usage (while increasing silicon usage), it would be a fun project.
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Old 07-25-2007, 01:05 PM   #6
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korax123 -

I think it's worth trying if :

- You have another use for the solar panels and batteries if it doesn't work.

- You keep a special "emergency battery" thingy that you can plug into the cigarette lighter to start the car. That way, a dead battery won't keep you from getting home. SNEAKY IDEA : Assume your battery is always dead. Plug the charger-battery into the wall at work every day and when you get home. Use it as your "mobile starter energy source".

- You're commute "fits" in terms of amount of energy lost in the battery and the time it takes to recharge the battery.

- You don't worry about the "return on investment".

I have been thinking along similar lines, because my car "just sits there" all day too. My problem is, 35+ miles one way is "A Commute Too Far" for my battery to be rechargeable.

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Old 07-25-2007, 01:41 PM   #7
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Just an idea guys; I haven't thought it through. Has anyone tried a A/C clutch on an alternator?

Pros: It seems like it would reduce ALMOST as much power loss as removing the alternator. You could re-enable it easily in case you had an emergency, such as staying at work late and driving home with headlights, or running the battery too low for comfort. It may be hard to remove the alternator if you have a serpentine belt.

Cons: Still some parasitic loss in the clutch bearin. The car gains weight instead of shedding it.
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Old 07-25-2007, 01:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by s2man View Post
Just an idea guys; I haven't thought it through. Has anyone tried a A/C clutch on an alternator?

Pros: It seems like it would reduce ALMOST as much power loss as removing the alternator. You could re-enable it easily in case you had an emergency, such as staying at work late and driving home with headlights, or running the battery too low for comfort. It may be hard to remove the alternator if you have a serpentine belt.

Cons: Still some parasitic loss in the clutch bearin. The car gains weight instead of shedding it.
No need for that. All you need to turn the alternator into a fancy looking pulley with almost no loss is a relay, a switch and some wiring. The alternator only puts a load on when exiter voltage is present, in the little 2 wire plug in the wiring harness. Cut that voltage off and the alternator won't charge, and all you need for that is a relay that is normally closed, and opens when energised. Then, just flip the switch when you want the alternator either on or off.
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:50 PM   #9
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No need for that. All you need to turn the alternator into a fancy looking pulley with almost no loss is a relay, a switch and some wiring. The alternator only puts a load on when exiter voltage is present, in the little 2 wire plug in the wiring harness. Cut that voltage off and the alternator won't charge, and all you need for that is a relay that is normally closed, and opens when energised. Then, just flip the switch when you want the alternator either on or off.
This is what SVOboy (i think did) He has a switch to turn his alternator off and on.

Why won't automakers just make the alternators like that and have the computer measure the voltage of the battery and when it gets to a certain voltage kick the alternator back on.

Wouldn't this save fuel and just put a deepcycle battery in the car to take all the recharging.
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:53 PM   #10
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elec cars go around 30-40 miles round trip. I think they need 80-200 square feet of solar panels to charge for a few hours. the battery is only for starting the car, you can disconnect it while running and the alt will keep it running by producing 14 volts I helped a friend who had a Geo storm, the alt was bad, i charged it for 10mins with my truck, she drove for around 5miles until it ran out/stalled, after 6-7 charges she made it home also if you run on just batteries the computer might act goofy , not getting the normal 12v or 5v ref signal, not making a good spark or have a low fuel flow. On newer cars it will set the airbag light on for low voltage detected and may turn on all the lights on in the dash, set a bunch of codes, and if elec throttle body, you will be in idle mode only-won't be able to push the gas to go.
my experiment would be to start the car, remove battery, run to work, use second battery stored at work to start the car again, return home. but... you might blow the battery up from any spark from connecting / disconnecting and/or the car will have to relearn the driving strategy 2xs a day that might lead to bad mpg. finally if it stalls your out of luck ;(
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