Phase 2 and Solarrolla

Reader Contribution by Brett Belan and Apparent Energy
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The times they are a changin… Since my last blog I have fully dedicated my life to the advancement of solar electric vehicles.

I had talked about the test results of the lithium batteries as well as the result of adding another 1,000 watts of solar to the VW bus in the form of an awning.  Maybe more importantly I was able to test the flexible, much lighter panels, for performance and durability.  Check!

At this point our experience is a 120 mile range and 30 miles per day solar input.

I’m happy the flexible panels worked out since they are 7 pounds compared to almost 40 for a glass framed panel.  Time to phase out the glass….and the weight.

Without the glass to worry about the panels are safer too.  Flexible panels have been advantageous on boats for years now and are making their way to RVs worldwide due to this lightweight, flexible and conforming design.

We promised phase two of the solar electric vw bus would include the lithium batteries and 3,000 watts of solar.  I will hold up my end!

I took an intermediate step in adding just one more 1,000 watt array for  a 2,200 watt total.

And now ladies and gentlemen….It’s time for whole enchilada….and a twist of fate that we all will be enjoying this summer and for years to come!!!! I currently have 36 flexible solar panels on the way!  Get ready for the completion of the solar electric VW bus. Using the 3.2-3.4 watt sun power cells sandwiched in a flexible polymer sub-straight, and utilizing the available surface area of a VW transporter roof I can get 1,200 watts.  Now we will have 3 times this! 3,600 watts split up into a center array and two awnings will be fully track-able and give us a potential 100 miles in a little over 2 days.  The awning will need to retract of course during driving…this is the real innovation.

Are you with me?  Well….there’s more! If you get a chance take a look at my last blog.  In the picture of burning man you will see a funny looking vehicle with a solar panel on the front of it. I was fortunate to make it to “burning man” this year with my wife.  We took the Solar bus and had an amazing time.  I was thinking before we left for the Nevada desert that it would be fun to have a small electric vehicle to spin around the gathering with….the next day a friend dropped off a scooter that he “thought I could do something with.”

“I can and I will!” I replied. I added the 4 extra lithium cells from my bus project, a 100 watt flexible panel on the front and headed to Black Rock City. I didn’t have time to get a charge controller on the scooter.  I thought it would take a long time to charge and figured I would just keep an eye on it. The storage turned out to be around 900 watt hours.  As it turned out on the flat the scooter pulled just a few hundred watts. It turned out to be more juice than I could use! During the day the juice went right back in!

I quickly realized that I had something special.

When I got home I drove it 20 miles and saw it charge right back up in a few hours….what a form of transport!!!!!!!!

I started ordering parts and built my own version of the scooter from the ground up calling it the “Solarrolla”. It’s made out of an aluminum frame, 3-wheels for stability, a 100 watt flexible solar panel and  comes complete with a waterproof  Bluetooth speaker and phone holder and charger.

Everyone needs a “Solarrolla.”   The scooter is a way I can offer the solar driving experience without all that is entailed with the something as large as the VW bus. I realized the scooter could replace motorcycles in sunny 3rd world countries where pollution is a real problem.  Also the scooter is a quite viable source of energy for lights, music, cell phone charging laptop use and anything else electric.

Get more info at:

So stay tuned for the completion of phase 2 of the solar electric VW bus and the development of Solarrolla! Wanna see even further into the future check out the Estar page on our website!

Photos by Kira Belan

Brett Belan lived off-grid in California for a decade before he and his family moved to Ashland, Oregon. There he co-founding Apparent Energy, an engineering company dedicated to improving our electrical systems. He builds electric vehicles and converted a 1973 VW bus to a fully electric, solar powered vehicle. He’s working on a project now called Solarrolla, a solar powered electric scooter. Find out more at: Solar-Electric VW Bus Follow Brett on Facebook and Instagram, and read his article in Home Power magazine. Read all of Brett’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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