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Why Don’t Cars Have Solar Panels to Charge their Battery?

We all know that solar panels produce clean energy without relying on the grid. So, it’s natural to think that they could be used to charge car batteries, right? But surprisingly, this isn’t a very common practice, and there are some good reasons why.

Why Do Electric Cars Not Use Solar Panels?

One of the primary reasons is the limited surface area of car bodies. Even though solar panels have become more efficient in recent years, they only convert a small percentage of light into energy. 

The most efficient panels only reach around 45% efficiency, while most panels are only around 15-20% efficient. This means that a small surface area would produce very little energy, making it impractical for car use. 

Additionally, the cost of the panels may outweigh the benefits of using them to charge car batteries. Solar panels can be expensive to produce, and the energy they generate may not be enough to offset their costs. This is especially true for cars due to the limited surface area, meaning that generating a meaningful amount of energy would be difficult. 

Solar panels


Despite these challenges, companies are innovating in this area by making whole-body panels out of solar panels. This would provide a more significant surface area to capture energy and make using solar panels to charge car batteries more practical. However, this technology is still in its early stages and is not widely available. 

A couple of solar electric cars are on the market, including the Lightyear One and the Sono Sion. The Lightyear One has a range of 450 miles and uses 5 square metres of solar panels, but it comes with a price tag of around £100,000. The Sono Sion, on the other hand, is around £21,500 but has solar cells that can only generate up to 20 miles of range per day in very optimal conditions. 

Lightyear One solar-powered car

Future of Solar Electric Cars

While the future of solar panels looks promising, with potential advancements in efficiency and energy production, currently, there are easier ways to improve a car's efficiency. These are:

  • Optimise electric motor efficiency 

  • Reduce the weight of the car

  • Improve the car’s aerodynamics 

  • Use low rolling resistance tyres

Solar panels are a possible future source to power electric cars. However, they currently face several challenges when charging car batteries. The limited surface area of car bodies and the high costs of panels are making it impractical for most car manufacturers to invest in this technology at this moment in time. However, should there be any developments within this area, rest assured that we will let you know. 

Find out about hybrid and electric cars at Perrys by clicking here.

Tags: *Solar *Solar_Energy *Solar_Power *Electric * Electric_Cars *EV *Electric_Vehicles *Solar_Electric_Vehicles

Written by Lois | 3.5 min read
23 Feb 2023