Solarrolla Inc.: Solar Powered Electric Vehicles

Reader Contribution by Brett Belan, Solarrolla and Inc.
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Time has passed and Solarrolla has grown. The utility of solar powered vehicles is becoming apparent.

Since our last blog we have completed our largest vehicle to date.  At 12,000 lbs this 2012 already electric International eStar delivery truck made the perfect platform for a solar powered electric RV.

With just two months to build this vehicle and beat the oncoming winter in Alaska, Solarrolla put Joel Gregory Hayes on the Pan American Highway (see @routedelsol on all platforms). Joel’s environmentally responsible attitude meshed with the intentions of Solarrolla this summer and Joel is now travelling the Pan Am highway from the Arctic Circle to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina in a fully solar powered RV!  Currently he is in Vancouver, B.C. gearing up for his stateside demonstration.

Joel’s project began with buying a 2012 International eStar donor vehicle.  The eStar already possessed an electric drive train and a 80kwhr battery bank.  We added a 40 kwhr secondary battery pack for increased range. We outfitted the vehicle with 7,200 watts of custom framed, flexible solar and dialed it in to pull an actual 5kw continuously on a sunny day…..all day as the 24 by 15 foot array tracks. The vehicle is capable of 200 mile runs driving conservatively with up to 100 miles a day from the sun when spanning out its wings in a stationary position.  While in transit the vehicle collects almost 1800 watts of solar energy. We equipped the vehicle with a Outback Radian 8kw inverter.  Joel’s eStar can charge other vehicles, and even send power into the grid…imagine the possibilities. See videos of the entire build and all the magic on our YouTube channel “Solarrolla” or at solarrolla.com.

It’s a lot of work to integrate solar power into an already dedicated electric vehicle.

Battery management systems tend to not particularly like power from an unknown source entering their kingdom. One way around this is to direct solar power on the EV to a secondary battery pack then transfer that power into the vehicle directly through its charging port.  This way you have a sort of reserve tank that you transfer at your own discretion to solarize your ride and give you more range plus a little back up just in case.

This is how we built Joel’s vehicle and this is the way we can solar power any electric vehicle. 

Does size matter?  Now that I have actually built a large solar powered vehicle I must say…bigger the better!  More size holds more panels and larger battery packs.  Although weight is an issue, driving slower seems to be more tolerated by other drivers in general. The biggest advantage is that you can bring the comforts of home with you.  RVs have awnings….without these awnings increasing the solar power production, Joel’s eStar would be more of a daily driver/grocery getter.

We believe in solar powered vehicles, but we also believe that we as humans could also curb our desire for speed and consumption travelling slower, more efficiently and more consciously paralleling a sustainable path with nature. Solarrolla is truly on the side of tortoise, slow and steady.

If size isn’t your thing check out version 2.0 of the Solar Rover Electric Scooter.  With a one hundred watt panel putting in actual 80 watts it charges about 30 miles a day. The vehicle holds 100 miles worth of storage which weighs just 30 lbs!  Two independent 500 watt hub motors power you up any hill and well to your 25 mph top speed legal limit.

Stop in the sun and your miles go up accordingly…..can’t stop smiling!!!

Remember the burning man scooter that inspired this!!!??

 

As we get deeper within our solar powered vehicles we find deeper meanings in what we are really doing.  Simply put, at Solarrolla we are encouraging energy awareness.  From where it come from to how it is distributed and finally where it goes…it is important for us all to understand.

We realized we could do this on a tiny level and that motivated us to create a solar cell phone charger.  OK sorry it doesn’t have wheels, but it will put 3 watts of power anytime it’s in the sun into your 6800mahr double 18650 storage pack…. here we go looking to nature for our power directly.  This process encourages us to also refine our usage, (like turning off unnecessary power robbing apps) to meet in the sustainable middle.

 

In October we built a 200 Watt mobile power unit for a local company to run their 3D printers. It has a 200 Watt panel, 2000 watt hour lithium pouch cell battery, AIMS Power 1500 watt 48 VDC Pure Sine Power Inverter and an adjustable tracking actuator. This little unit is perfect to run tools, lights, small equipment, etc. We would like to offer this unit as a way for folks to get their hands wet with solar power systems and to enjoy it without all the complexity and cost of a home system.

This year has been a big one for us as we formed Solarrolla Inc., built our largest vehicle to date, developed the Solar Rover Scooter, built a mobile power unit and solar cell phone chargers. This winter we are excited to announce that we will be converting and adding solar to a VW Bus for Redfoo, front man of the band LMFAO. Stay tuned for more information. This project will be video documented so be sure to follow and subscribe to us on all platforms @solarrolla to get the latest updates (see links in bio below).

Brett Belan is the CEO and head engineer at Solarrolla Inc. located in Ashland, Oregon. The company develops and builds solar powered electric vehicles and mobile charging stations. In 2015 he converted a 1973 VW bus to a fully electric, solar powered vehicle. In 2018 he and his team built a fully solar powered electric RV that is travelling the Pan American Highway. Currently he is developing a solar powered electric scooter called the Solar Rover and working on a commissioned  VW Bus conversion. Find out more at:solarrolla.comFollow Solarrolla on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitterand read the article in Home Power magazine. Read all of Brett’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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