Solar cars are vehicles that run on electricity which is produced by converting solar power into usable energy for the car. The end product of transportation leaves a minimum footprint as they are a combination of aerodynamics, laws of motion, and clean converted energy. It also saves monetary expenses. Solar cars use stored batteries as the fuel required to run the vehicles which are produced by Photovoltaic cells. So, let’s see how do solar powered cars work.

What is Solar Car?

Without knowing what is solar car it would be useless to know how do solar powered cars work. Solar cars are categorized as electric cars that use EVs powered by solar energy. The energy is stored in batteries so that the cars can smoothly run in the absence of direct sunlight or during the nighttime.

You might think that is it possible to make solar-powered cars. Yes, solar powered cars are coming into existence with an increased interest in renewable energy systems. Solar powered cars are cleaner than conventional vehicles and are a sustainable means of transport which makes them a better option.

How Do Solar Powered Cars Work

JAN 23 how do solar powered cars workSolar Cars have the ability to recharge their battery even when ideally parked under sunlight. Thus, reducing the cost of operation of a car to almost negligible. Some important parts of a Solar car are:

  • Solar Array – lined with thousands of photovoltaic cells and also known as Solar Panel. They are basically used to convert solar energy into usable electricity
  • Power Trackers – They are made to act as a stopper for the batteries from overcharging and channel the solar electricity generated towards the battery for storage.
  • Electric Motor – Converts the electric energy to mechanical energy which helps in moving the wheels.
  • Speed Controller – It controls the engine and wheels accordingly and helps in monitoring the speed of the vehicle.
  • Navigational device – It helps in navigating the solar car in your desired direction.
  • Wheel – Helps in moving in a specific direction with the desired speed.
  • Chassis – It is the outer framework of the car on which the entire structure is set upon.
  • Battery – Stores the energy that is required for the vehicle.

The rooftop of solar cars is mounted with solar panels so that it can receive maximum sun rays. Solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells that comprise Silicon and a combination alloy of Galium and Indium and Nitrogen gas. These elements have the tendency to absorb the light energy from the rays of the sun and the energy is in form of free-moving electrons and is stored in specifically designed storage sections called batteries. They have the ability to convert free electrons into energy that powers the engine of the vehicle. This is how do solar powered cars work

You can use the batteries repeatedly to power a vehicle as it uses solar energy and is easily rechargeable. Solar powered cars can cover 60 to 90 km with 80 to 150 volts of energy, on a single full charge.

What are Solar Car Features?

JAN 23 how do solar powered cars workSolar car features are as follows:

  • They use rechargeable batteries instead of burning fossil fuels.
  • They can run in both direct and indirect sunlight
  • They depend on the photovoltaic cell to recharge their batteries by capturing solar energies
  • The amount of carbon emission is very less, almost negligible
  • They eliminate both air pollution and noise
  • Solar vehicles are not employed for public transportation.

Also See: With Battery Tech Breakthrough Possibility of Charging EV Vehicles in Just 10 Minutes

What are the Advantages of Solar Car?

Everything is incomplete without talking about its advantages. So, here are the advantages of solar cars:

  • They are Eco friendly
  • Cost-effective
  • Provides longer life span value of the motor with low maintenance
  • Fossil fuel-free cars
  • Gasoline free vehicles
  • Carbon emission is almost negligible
  • Ability to utilize solar energy to its full potential
  • Electricity is stored in batteries so you can drive the car even without sunlight
  • These cars are noiseless thus reducing noise pollution
  • Reduces greenhouse effect thus improving the ozone layer
  • Drastic reduction of air pollution due to the absence of residual pollutants like Nitrous dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, etc.
  • Uses infinite availability of the free resource.
  • Preserving the residual fossil fuel that is on verge of extinction
  • A great choice for drivers who travel a short distance.

Also Read: How Does Solar Energy Impact the Environment?

What are the Disadvantages of Solar Car?

Without being aware of the disadvantages of solar car it would be incomplete to know how do solar powered cars work as it is important to know the negative side you are using them. The disadvantages of solar cars are as follows:

  • The initial investment is high.
  • It decreases its efficiency in scarcity or in absence of sunlight.
  • It has limitations as sunlight is required and it cannot be present all throughout the day.
  • Marked reduction in the vehicle speed.
  • Requires lots to accommodate the solar panels.
  • It provides only about 20-35% efficiency of electrical energy.
  • Faces a lack of sufficient infrastructure to provide the required maintenance of the vehicle.
  • They require a balance of weight and efficiency, so, lighter solar panels are a good option for cars, but, they might not be as effective.
  • These cars are not preferred for regions with minimal sunshine or cold climates.

Also See: 3 Amorphous Solar Panels Advantages and Disadvantages

What are the Uses of Solar Cars?

Following are the uses of solar cars.

  • They are preferred as lightweight vehicle
  • Commercialized for four-wheel drives
  • It is a blessing for the people in areas where fuel-based vehicles are not allowed
  • In vehicles where fossil fuel consumes a vast majority of the expense.

Can You Drive Solar Car at Night?

Yes, you can drive a solar car at night as it uses photovoltaic cells to recharge them without stopping them. The energies are stored in the batteries for further smooth movement. You can drive your solar car anytime just its battery need to be charged.

How Does a Solar Powered Car Stop

The breaks in solar cars are different from the normal cars, so how does a solar powered car stop. It contains regenerative braking systems. Regenerative braking is a modern technique that captures the energy in electronic vehicles when the brake is applied. It basically stores the kinetic energy that would have been wasted when the vehicle comes to a standstill while braking or decelerates. By taking a measure of the initial and final vehicle velocity, the amount of kinetic energy that is lost to braking can be calculated.

Also Read: Grid Tied Solar System Components

What are Solar Powered Car Price?

JAN 23 how do solar powered cars workSome solar powered car prices are as follows:

  • Lightyear is a startup that develops an expensive solar car. Recently it announced its second vehicle, and it is ranged about $34,000.
  • German company Sono Motors claimed that they will launch their solar powered car by mid of 2023, it is priced at around $25,000.
  • Lightyear has also announced that around $263,000 cars will go under production by this year.
  • A tiny little car is priced at around $6,800 and is made by an Amsterdam-based startup.
  • Hyundai has Covered a sedan’s roof with photovoltaics which might generate a peak of 600 W. This will be enough to run the air conditioning and to keep the 12 V battery charged. They will be available for around $6250.

Also Read: Understanding Off-Grid Solar System Working Principle

Why Solar Cars are Not a Reality Yet?

Despite their excellent features and potential, they are not yet fit for commercial use. It is because of their high cost and their low efficiency. Solar cars have many technical limitations such as car need for extra space for solar panels which has been seen as the greatest problem related to cost, weight, and design.

Its use becomes impractical in the absence of enough sunlight as batteries would not be able to charge in absence of sunlight. Solar panels can generate and store enough energy on a sunny day to power the car so, the working of a car depends on the positioning of panels, weather conditions, maintenance of panels, and driving conditions. The main point is to develop safe, cost-effective, and dependable modules for solar cars.

Solar cars are not limited to your dreams, but becoming a reality so days are not so far when solar cars can be seen in every house. Just keep in mind how do solar powered cars work and protect the environment with new technology so that you can also enjoy them.

Recommended: Top 10 Building Integrated Photovoltaics Manufacturers in the World


Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

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