way cool retro-eco renovation + modification. i want one! m.

brett belen has been building solar electric vehicles for years: he first built a 72 volt ‘EZ-GO’ golf cart; and a 1973 harbilt english postal van. these vehicles were real workhorses that could be refuelled by simply parking them in the sun. for his most recent project, he chose volkswagen bus for it’s cabin volume plus the surface area of its roof. he imagined a large photovoltaic array that could tilt for maximum solar exposure. he soon realized that the large space beneath the panels could also offer some more elbow room in the vehicle.

the roof consists of 4, 305 watt LG panels, with the 1, 220 watt array pivots in the front of the van. the space above can be accessed from beneath through the van’s ‘moon roof’. actuators (one on each side) tilt the array up to a maximum of about 40°, adjustable for maximizing output. he can have the camper top open as the sun sets, getting kids ready for bed. with an 180° spin of the vehicle, he can position the array to catch the morning sun. at full tilt it has 40 degrees of an angle allowing it face the sun directly for far over six hours. moving the van ensures that it can always has optimum exposure. he used 4 x drok DC-DC converters to boost each panels voltage from 40 V to 55 V. these converters are wired in series for around 220 V. the array can theoretically put out 8 amps total at 150 volts into the battery.

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Norman Foster