I added a photo voltaic panel to cost my electrical mini-truck from the solar

It’s again! The electrical mini-truck that retains on giving has one other enjoyable trick up its sleeve. With a little bit of DIY magic, I used to be in a position to outfit my Chinese language mini-truck with a photo voltaic panel that may trickle cost it from the solar.

In the event you’re aren’t acquainted with this unassuming little mini-truck, then right here’s the background: I discovered it on Alibaba again in 2021 and paid the Chinese language vendor it got here from $2,000 to make it mine.

It went via an extended saga of being shipped to the US, which value barely greater than the truck itself. However it will definitely arrived in Florida the place it’s been residing out a tough working but rewarding life on my mum or dad’s ranch. There it primarily serves as a piece truck on the property, although typically it heads out simply to please the neighbors. Everybody loves this quirky little factor.

mini electric pickup truck

The electrical drive implies that it’s quiet, largely maintenance-free, and doesn’t require any journeys to the fuel station to refill.

That final one is necessary because it isn’t even road authorized, and therefore why it lives its life off-road as a piece truck.

The pretty massive (for a mini-truck) 6,000 Wh battery typically supplied round per week or two of use earlier than needing to be recharged from a typical 120V wall outlet.

That was high-quality, although it was a bit annoying to attend all day for it to cost.

So I made a decision to attempt to make the most of the plentiful solar that bakes its roof rack every day whereas it sits exterior. To take action, I received a small photo voltaic panel to mount onto the roof rack.

I figured if I may simply let it trickle cost whereas it’s sitting out within the solar, then I wouldn’t really have to plug it in for a giant cost of the LiFePO4 battery almost as usually.

You’ll be able to observe together with the method of putting in the photo voltaic panel on the truck in a video I filmed of the project, or simply hold studying for the small print.

mini truck solar panel

The most important panel I may discover that didn’t prolong previous the prevailing roof rack was a 50W Renogy solar panel. Not precisely big, however it could be simply high-quality for trickle charging. Assuming round 35W of photo voltaic vitality (they don’t name Florida the Sunshine State for nothin’!) for 8 hours a day, I figured I’d get almost 300 Wh of trickle charging per day.

Contemplating the truck solely drives a couple of miles per day whereas it stays inside a ten acre ranch, that might most likely account for round half of its each day use. It wouldn’t take it fully off-grid, but it surely ought to stretch out the time between costs by round double. And the panel could be sufficiently small that it wouldn’t influence the rest on the truck or prolong previous the confines of the prevailing roof rack.

I used to be in a position to mount the photo voltaic panel by utilizing PVC pipe to create struts throughout the roof rack. After portray them black, they mainly appeared like the prevailing metal tubes and make the set up seem extra like a manufacturing facility job.

The pipes additionally allowed me to angle the panel barely, that means I can park the truck going through north after I’m not utilizing it and get a pleasant southernly angle for greater photo voltaic effectivity.

mini truck solar panel

To extend the roughly 18VDC popping out of the photo voltaic panel to match the cost voltage wanted by my 60V battery within the mini-truck, I used a solar charge controller. It’s the identical one I utilized in a earlier photo voltaic electrical bike venture, and it’s far more highly effective than I would like. However the further energy implies that if I ever wish to create a carport or different set up with a couple of bigger photo voltaic panels on it, I may plug them in on to the truck and get a better charging fee when parked close to the photo voltaic array.

The precise strategy of connecting the whole lot is fairly darn easy. The photo voltaic panels plug into the cost controller, which itself plugs into the battery’s charging port. I used to be in a position to entry the charging port by utilizing a spare plug beneath the mini-truck’s charging cap (I nonetheless don’t know why the mini-truck got here with two completely different charging ports wired to the identical circuit, however I used to be completely satisfied it did). Probably the most tough half was simply peeling again the inside lining of the truck’s cab to cover the wiring that ran as much as the photo voltaic panel.

With the set up full, testing confirmed that in most circumstances I may get between 30-35W of energy. At one level I reached 45W when the solar was its highest level within the sky, although 35W was a extra life like determine on common.

Because the photo voltaic panel set up, I’ve discovered that the charging interval has mainly doubled.

If my household charged the truck round as soon as each 10 days or so prior to now, now we will get away with doing it as soon as each three weeks or so.

A panel that was massive sufficient to fully cost the truck could be good, however I didn’t need one so huge that it may get in the best way of the mattress since we use the truck almost each day for hauling issues across the property.

The mattress additionally has a hydraulic ram that lifts it up about 45-degrees in dump truck kind, and so I couldn’t have a panel prolong too far again.

I’d say that the venture was fairly profitable, and it demonstrates that photo voltaic charging on autos might be efficient if the automobile is low sufficient energy (my truck is round 5 hp).

Standard photo voltaic electrical automobiles can’t actually examine, since a day of solar simply isn’t sufficient to fill an affordable portion of their huge batteries. However if you happen to’ve received a small EV like a mini-truck or an e-bike, particularly one which doesn’t have to go too far every day and usually stays in a single space like this, you’ll be able to really make an influence even with a comparatively small photo voltaic panel.

For anybody who ever wished to strive a DIY photo voltaic charging venture like this, I’d undoubtedly suggest giving it a shot. It’s surprisingly easy and simple to do. It’s additionally arduous to explain the rewarding feeling of stepping again to admire your work afterwards, watching your system “magically” charging with out being plugged in. Or at the very least, with out being plugged in to the wall.

mini truck solar panel

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