Did you know that switching to a more sustainable energy source for your rides can significantly reduce your carbon footprint?
Do you often feel that charging your electric bike is a hassle while you are out somewhere? A solar-powered electric bike can be a solution to all these problems.
At a time, 173,000 terawatts of solar energy reach Earth. It is about 10,000 times more than the total energy use of the world.
Even though electric bikes are already very environment friendly with the battery-powered motor, it is always possible to make an even better product.
Using solar power instead of electricity to charge your electric bike battery saves you even more money and helps our environment. A solar-powered electric bike allows you to charge it while you stop for a break without needing a power outlet.
But can you get solar-powered electric bikes at a regular bike shop or online? It is what we will be talking about in this article.
How Beneficial Is It To Use Solar Powered Electric Bikes?
Solar light is a renewable source of energy and is free. Using solar power is a one-time investment in solar charging panels. Considering the cost of fossil fuel, coal, or other energy sources used in generating electricity, using solar-powered electric bikes is economical and eco-friendly.
A solar-powered electric bike is convenient to charge even in the middle of nowhere as long as there’s sunlight. You don’t need to look for a friendly cafe that lets you plug in your electric bike battery for a quick refill.
What Is The Need For A Solar Powered Electric Bike?
Electric bikes are all the rage in the world today. The only concern is the small range it offers. Taking a trip to your local store and around your neighborhood is convenient on an electric bike. But if you have to travel long distances, the battery does not offer that much range.
Having a solar power electric bike would allow you to recharge the batteries without searching for a power outlet.
How To Build A Solar Powered Electric Bike?
Is it even possible? It must be the first thought in your mind after reading the title. To answer your question, yes, it is possible to build a solar-powered electric bike on your own. All you need is some components and fundamental knowledge for making proper connections.
- An electric bike
- A solar panel
- An inverter and battery
Step 1: Selecting a strongly built bike with a carrier rack
First, you need a strong base for your solar-powered electric bike. Try choosing an electric bike with a high-quality battery and strong built. It is preferable to have an electric bike with the back carrier to do the solar panel setup.
Step 2: Selecting the solar panel
The second thing you would need is a solar panel. The power of the solar panel depends on your budget and need. But, the bigger, the better. You have the option to choose from foldable solar panels or rigid solar panels. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
A foldable solar panel will have a lower weight and would be easy to carry around. But for charging your electric bike battery with it, you would need to lay it down on the ground for better exposure to the sunlight.
The rigid solar panel is heavier and would be difficult to ride around with it. But, it can charge the battery even while you are riding on a sunny day. Its horizontal placement on the rear of your bike allows proper sunlight to fall on it.
Step 3: An inverter and battery
No matter how much we would like to have a solar panel charge our electric bike battery by a direct plug-in, that’s not how it works. You would need to plug solar panel output into an inverter, which then plugs into the electric bike’s charger, connecting to the battery.
An inverter converts the DC output from your solar panel battery to AC, which then again gets converted to DC. If there were a way to charge an electric bike battery with solar power directly, it would reduce the inverter and charger’s extra load.
Step 4: All done
This setup will increase your battery efficiency about three times. You start your ride with a full-charged bike battery. The solar panel fully charges the battery once during the day, and the solar panel battery offers another full charge of your bike battery. It effectively increases your electric bike range.
Solar Bike With Solar Panel Skins In The Wheels
Jesper Frausig from Denmark produced a solar-powered electric bike. But instead of placing solar panels all over the rear of the bike, he used a smart way to incorporate solar panels without altering the look of the bike.
The wheels in this solar bike are solid black circles containing solar panel skin in them. This bike can travel at a high speed of 30 miles per hour, and a full battery can provide a range of over 40 miles.
When you take a break between your cycling or when you come to a stop and put your bike on a stand, the solar panels start charging the battery.
On an average sunny day, they can provide enough charge to add 15 more miles to your range. The only downside is that the solar panel may provide a distance as low as 1 mile on a cloudy or rainy day.
Elf Solar Powered Electric Bike
The most common problem bike riders face is that there is no protection from rain and wind. With an advanced electric bike, you can now be protected from harsh weather while riding on a solar-powered electric bike. While it may sound absurd to you but it is not impossible.
Organic Transit, a company in North Carolina, manufactured Elf- a three-wheeled bicycle. Elf is a hybrid of a car and an electric bike, which you can ride by pedaling or on a solar-powered battery. The 100-watt solar panel over the roof charges a 48-volt battery.
The Elf offers all the essential safety features you would find on a car. It has a windshield, inbuilt roof, and storage to provide better protection to you and your cargo. The LED headlights, electric-powered horns, brake lights, and rearview and side mirrors offer better traffic safety or traveling during the night.
The electric, solar-powered elf bike does not run on only electric power but helps your pedaling boost power whenever you get tired or while riding uphill. With Elf legally being a bike, you can ride it on bike lanes or wherever bikes are allowed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you charge an electric bike with a solar panel?
You can use a solar panel to charge an electric bike battery at your home if you have a solar panel setup. Or you can go ahead and mount a sufficient wattage solar panel on the rear of your bike that can charge your bike battery even on a ride.
Having a solar-powered electric bike is beneficial for those long-distance rides when your electric bike battery needs an extra boost of power.
Can you get solar-powered electric bikes from your favorite bike manufacturer?
You might not believe it, but none of the top electric bike manufacturers have made a solar-powered electric bike. With the pressure of keeping the electric bike compact sized and a low price, bike manufacturers have yet to design a solar-powered electric bike.
It is unlikely for you to find electric, solar-powered bike from your favorite brand of electric bikes.
Can you overcharge an electric bike battery with a solar panel?
Most of the time, we leave our electric bike plugged overnight for a full charge battery for the ride the next day. That is fine. Charging overnight doesn’t put your bike battery at risk.
But, if you left your bike battery on charge for a longer time, say a day or two. It is definitely at risk of getting overcharged. Overcharge can reduce battery efficiency significantly.
Is it possible to have a high range without upgrading the battery or buying a new electric bike?
While there will always be a limitation on the electric bike range, you can increase it to an extent with a solar panel. Installing a solar panel on your bike allows you to charge in between rides or even during the ride. You can have up to three times more range with a good quality solar panel charging your electric bike battery.
While the idea of a solar-powered electric bike might seem exciting, not many manufacturers have ventured into this section of electric bikes. All the options available in the market are either for competition or have a high cost.
Even though there is an option of building one on your own with a solar-powered electric bike kit, not everyone has the knowledge to do it. Also, not many people have that much time to spare.
We hope that we can see more advanced and compact-designed electric solar-powered bikes in the coming future.