Sunroofs to Live Up to Their Name?
Sunrise Solar has introduced its Solar Sunroof, a replacement for regular car sunroofs that includes solar PV cells to produce electricity. This can help recharge the vehicle's battery, but it can also cool down the car when it's hot, and warm it up when it's cold.
Solar car roofs in general will probably make a bigger difference on plug-in hybrids and electric cars, though even that might not make a huge difference since the panel would be small and add some weight to the vehicle.
Solar Panels on Cars: Problems
As we wrote about recently, Toyota has plans to make a solar roof available for the next generation Prius. That sounds good, but it's probably still a better idea to keep the solar panels off the car and use them on houses or solar carports (that can also provide shade). That way you can keep them in the sun longer on average, cover a bigger area, and avoid adding weight to a vehicle, reducing its efficiency.
Waiting for More Details from Sunrise Solar
Lets not get too excited yet about the Solar Sunroof. The company's website doesn't give detailed specs or a price yet...
Details on the San Antonio, Texas-based company’s roof design and intended customers are scant. Is this an after-market item for DIYers to add to their cars or something aimed at automotive OEMs? Sunrise Solar hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment.
It's still an interesting concept, but probably won't be viable until we have a glut of inexpensive solar panels being produced, which isn't the case now.
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More on Solar Sunroof
Solar Sunrise Product Page
Sunrise Solar Introduces Solar Sunroof
Sunrise to Make Solar Roof for Your Car