A Tesla Model Y owner decided to build his own solar roof that can add over 20 miles of range to the electric SUV per day.
Tesla, like many other automakers, had previously explored adding solar to electric vehicles, but it has never pulled the trigger on the feature.
Other automakers offer it as an option, but the solar roof systems either only power auxiliary features and not the actual powertrain’s battery pack, or they only provide a few miles of range per day.
In 2017, CEO Elon Musk said that he pushed his Tesla engineers to look into integrating solar cells on Model 3, but they concluded that it wasn’t worth it at the time.
Solar cell efficiency has since improved, and Tesla developed its own expertise in embedding solar cells through the development of solar roof tiles.
It led to a surprise announcement.
After the launch of the Cybertruck, Musk surprised many when he said that Tesla’s new electric pickup truck will have a solar roof option that will add 15 miles of range per day.
A few years later, Tesla filed for a patent that showed the solar cells will be embedded inside the retractable tonneau cover.
But the Cybertruck has now launched and it doesn’t include a solar roof – at least not yet.
In the meantime, a Tesla owner got matters into his own hands and decided to build a deployable solar roof for his Model Y.
The owner, going by u/somid3 on Reddit, built a rack that fits on top of the Tesla Model Y and can deploy 9 175-watt panels to charge the vehicle:
The owner wrote about his project:
I’ve been a long time reader, but not poster. For the last two years I’ve been working on a 2000 watt to 4000 watt solar system for my Model Y — Today I can charge anywhere in the world!
3D parts and telescoping carbon fiber tube were used to build the rack to deploy the panels.
He estimates that it can add over 20 miles (32 km) of range per day.
The owner built a website for people to track his project, which he says is still in beta. You can request for him to build you one or get the blueprints for it.
This is pretty cool. Now, please don’t trash this project based on efficiency and how the weight or aerodynamic drawbacks are more significant than the energy the solar system can bring in.
It’s most likely true, but it’s not really the point.
At 165 lbs (75 kg), the weight is not much of an issue, but the hit on aerodynamic performance should certainly be significant.
But this project is more about finding a way to charge the Model Y through solar power off-grid than making a more efficient vehicle that can benefit from a solar roof, like the Aptera. Mission accomplished on that front.
Interestingly, the inventor says that the next version of the product is using a custom roof rack rather than the standard Tesla rack. The new one is sleeker and can be used with a wind breaker for better aerodynamic performance.
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