Don Dunklee's DIY Solar Cycle
We 'huggers loves us some scooters. They're gorgeous, efficient, and lot of them even go electric which opens up all kinds of alt-energy potential. Even so, most of us would probably end up charging our electric bikes with the garage power outlet. But not Don. In true Treehugger style, he's converted his EVT 4000E into a mobile electric solar power station...Living for the past 20 years off the grid, Don is no stranger to rigging solar power systems. And with a need to commute to work every day, a solar electric scooter was a natural choice.
To pull off this feat, he installed two sets of folding panels that generate 120 watts in good sun. The bike's batteries hold 2400 watt-hours, so a Michigan summer's 9 hours of daily sun charges the battery about 1/2 full. Don estimates his ride uses only 25% of that. So, even with the occasional cloudy day (unfortunately, not uncommon in Michigan) doesn't mean the bike is dead. But, just in case, the factory charging apparatus is still intact.
In order to ride, the panels fold in close to the body of the bike, and lock down. When charging, the panel's symmetric layout reduces the possibility of tipping in the wind (though Don tells us he is considering adding parking outriggers to protect against this). He also plans to add a protective skin to the sides of the panels to protect against gravel on unpaved roads.
Charging is handled by a regulator stored under the seat, with room left to still store a small bag of work gear. While no speed demon, Don says it's more than enough for his needs, and very reliable. His EVT 4000E has over 900 miles logged so far. When he's not riding it in the winter, the bike gets plugged into his home to add extra power back into the system.