Solar powered tricycle.

Any tips on how to add solar power to my 12 volt electric battery powered tricycle?


  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
    Re: Solar powered tricycle.

    Install a Grid Tied Solar Array to your home would be the cheapest and best... No extra batteries, most efficient generation/use of solar energy.

    Then plug your cycle's AC recharger into the wall outlet and "away you go".

    Of course, you can do other things--but it will cost you about 4x more money per kWhr generated.

    You can also get Grid Tied solar systems rebated by the State of California (and a Federal tax credit too, which reduces the price per kWhr by another 1/3 or so).

    Very roughly (retail pricing installed in California)... Grid tie solar ~$0.25 per kWhr. With CA+Fed rebates ~$0.14 per kWhr. Off-Grid solar+batteries+charger+panels+installation ~$1.00+ per kWhr.

    Minimum sized "practical" Grid Tied solar system, ~1-2kW for ~$10,000-$20,000 installed (pre-rebates) in California (your local costs may be more or less).

    Prices are very approximate--you can "do better" with used/2nd's solar panels, do more work yourself, etc... You may be able to build a smaller practical grid tie solar system if you can find a smaller (and cheaper) inverter.

    Forget adding a solar panel to the bike (bulky, wind resistance, unsafe, smaller ones have insignificant power to make a day's ride longer). You can do a "stand-alone" charger--but this takes extra batteries, non-standard electronics, etc. and is usually not a good use of "solar resources" (Grid Tie solar uses the utility grid like a giant storage battery that will carry power (balance on your bill) for up to 1 year--one year net metering). Most off-grid battery systems can only store power for a few days, you have additional power losses with battery to battery charging systems, etc....

    Of course, if you have specific needs that Grid Tied or other standard systems can't support, I am sure we can help you with those too.

    Just ask!

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nigtomdaw
    nigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Solar powered tricycle.

    Check out Whos just finished such a project and won a science fair to boot with it
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Solar shade.

    Thanks for both, I'll be watching to see if there are others forthcoming.

    I'm still intrigued with the idea of using a solar panel to shade me while riding. I got the idea when i saw a fellow selling a little awning for about $100 to attach to a trike.

    But a solar recharging station sounds good too.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar powered tricycle.

    a small pv atop the bike could help to supplement the battery power while giving you shade. it may just help to extent operating times depending on the pv size and the actual loads in question and i do recommend it be regulated. if it were mine, my concerns would be more with theft.