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Unread 09-14-2016, 08:42 AM   #1
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Default Solar power panel

Has anybody tried a solar panel on the roof of your golf cart? I ran across this on ebay http://www.ebay.com/itm/QDRIVE-160w-...-/401088538956

I don't think 160W is much, but I wonder if it would improve performance when used in conjunction with lead acid batteries. Another benefit would be increased range and less total draw on the batteries.

Any experience with this or something similar?
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Unread 09-17-2016, 10:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Solar power panel

I know a few who have done it and I helped them out. Plus you can buy a replacement roof that is a 200 watt panel. The real trick is the charge controller has to be a Boost Converter. The panel voltage is to low to charge a 36 or 48 volt battery. There are only a couple of manufactures that make them. Best of them is from Genasun

Results well are more passion than real. If you do not drive the cart much and it spends most of its time out in the sun, the panel can keep the batteries charged.

As for performance, not a bit of help, just not enough power. As for range extension, there is some, but likely a lot less than you think. All about Sun Hours and Watt Hours. Your carts consume roughly 175 to 200 wh/mile. In Summer if you could keep a 200 watt panel in the sun from dawn to dusk receives 4 to 6 Sun Hours. That would mean you get 4 to 6 extra miles in a day on paper, not in practice, more like half that much. For one thing your panel and tilt orientation cannot be adjusted or maintained, just pointing straight up in the sky rather aimed at the sun.

So it is kind of hit and miss and whether it is worth it to you or not for a little extra range. To get that range means the cart has to be exposed to Sun with absolutely no shade all day. Or if you do not drive much, and you keep it in the Sun, can keep it charged up. The catch is it requires to have the cart in direct sun light all day with no shade. I do not know about most of you, but here in TX we drive from one shade tree to another all day long.
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Unread 09-19-2016, 07:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Solar power panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomster View Post
Has anybody tried a solar panel on the roof of your golf cart? I ran across this on ebay http://www.ebay.com/itm/QDRIVE-160w-...-/401088538956

I don't think 160W is much, but I wonder if it would improve performance when used in conjunction with lead acid batteries. Another benefit would be increased range and less total draw on the batteries.

Any experience with this or something similar?
I did this. Back in 1995 when I lived in south FL, I installed 3 100 watt solar panels wired in series and put that in a frame that replaced the roof. I never had to plug the cart in anymore until I removed the panels, put the roof back on, and sold that cart with the original charger in 1998.

I would drive to my favorite fishing spots and let it recharge as I was fishing. It was an old resistor cart, no electronics. I set up a solenoid to bypass the main power solenoid that would apply the solar power directly to the motor system, I would do that if the batteries became too low and I could cruise at up to about 5 MPH on the road from solar power alone without the batteries. I would do that to prevent from running the batteries down too low on the trip home. I was in no hurry, and it was fun to run directly from solar energy.

Today, I have a 48V RXV and a pallet load of single 325 watt solar panels that are each the perfect rating for a 48V battery bank. The MPPT rating on these panels is 54.8V, and the open circuit voltage is high enough that you would have to install some sort of simple voltage-based charge controller to disconnect the panel to prevent overcharge of the batteries. Each panel is perfectly sized to replace the factory roof on the cart! I have not installed one on the RXV yet, but I plan to do it real soon. We don't get as much sun here where I live now, but it'll help.

By the way, the distributer I buy from is in Miami FL and you can buy a 325 watt panel and simple charge controller for less than that ebay auction. Florida has no sales tax on anything related to solar power.

Bob
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Unread 09-19-2016, 10:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Solar power panel

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Originally Posted by BobBoyce View Post
I did this. Back in 1995 when I lived in south FL, I installed 3 100 watt solar panels wired in series and put that in a frame that replaced the roof. I never had to plug the cart in anymore until I removed the panels, put the roof back on, and sold that cart with the original charger in 1998.

I would drive to my favorite fishing spots and let it recharge as I was fishing. It was an old resistor cart, no electronics. I set up a solenoid to bypass the main power solenoid that would apply the solar power directly to the motor system, I would do that if the batteries became too low and I could cruise at up to about 5 MPH on the road from solar power alone without the batteries. I would do that to prevent from running the batteries down too low on the trip home. I was in no hurry, and it was fun to run directly from solar energy.

Today, I have a 48V RXV and a pallet load of single 325 watt solar panels that are each the perfect rating for a 48V battery bank. The MPPT rating on these panels is 54.8V, and the open circuit voltage is high enough that you would have to install some sort of simple voltage-based charge controller to disconnect the panel to prevent overcharge of the batteries. Each panel is perfectly sized to replace the factory roof on the cart! I have not installed one on the RXV yet, but I plan to do it real soon. We don't get as much sun here where I live now, but it'll help.

By the way, the distributer I buy from is in Miami FL and you can buy a 325 watt panel and simple charge controller for less than that ebay auction. Florida has no sales tax on anything related to solar power.

Bob
Thanks Bob.

I never thought that the panel would be able to effectively charge the battery, I was looking for more of a performance boost. After I unplug the cart from the charger, I usually have 51 volts or so. The cart is pretty peppy for a little while, then seems to become a bit sluggish. Step on the pedal and watch 50V drop to 46V......

I was hoping for more of a performance boost rather than an alternative charging option. Also, I don't want to replace the roof, I spent a lot of time painting and making the one I have now look good. So I guess I'm stuck with lead acid batteries and the performance they provice until someday when solar technology increases or when lithium power becomes more feasible.

Thanks for everyone's inputs.
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Unread 09-19-2016, 12:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Solar power panel

If your not putting 18 to 25 amps in to them batteries on a charge. Then the batteries are not being fully charged. You have to make them batteries bubble a little to get them to charge to 100%
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Unread 09-19-2016, 01:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Solar power panel

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Originally Posted by rib33024 View Post
If your not putting 18 to 25 amps in to them batteries on a charge. Then the batteries are not being fully charged. You have to make them batteries bubble a little to get them to charge to 100%
Yuppirs, have to stir that electrolyte and get rid of electrolyte stratification.

One of the products I designed is a battery desulphator/charger unit. It's currently in production and being sold by the manufacturer that I licensed to produce it. You can stir the electrolyte at lower power levels. It just takes longer to get up to the required voltage.

The output current from a single 325 watt panel at the 54.8V MPP is 5.93 amps in full direct overhead sun. I mostly use my cart now to go out to get the mail mid-day daily. Currently I'm plugging my charger into the sinewave inverter on my solar power system at the house to charge it. It takes nearly half of my solar power capacity for the first 15-20 minutes, then tapers off. Adding the solar panel to the cart would reduce that.

Bob
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Unread 09-24-2016, 01:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: Solar power panel

Ive been around solar panels on golf cars since 1980- never seen them work as advertised. Ive seen some bold statements but when I tell them I would like to test it- they have declined.
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