How to build a solar powered bicycle
Today we are consuming more energy and natural resources in our day to day life. At the same time we are becoming responsible for the earth’s increasing pollution, deforestation and depletion of the natural resources such as ground water and fuel reserve. Due to this today we are facing with various natural hazards throughout the world which will grow bigger and bigger in the upcoming days. To save ourselves from this we need to conserve energy, we need to take some steps towards a sustainable greener future. A solar powered bicycle is a possible solution to take us towards the greener future.
A solar powered bicycle is a bicycle powered by the solar energy so that one can travel faster for a long time and as it is not using any kind of fuel, it will never caused pollution.
The solar bicycle can be easily created providing you have the necessary tools and equipments at your disposal. Here I am explaining a way to make a solar bicycle within $350. The cost may vary from area to area and depending on the price of the equipments and their availability.
One can build this bicycle within two days; one day for procuring the necessary items and equipments and another day for assembling the equipments and charging the solar panel. For testing one more day is required.
For this project we can use a mountain bicycle as they are generally tough in any kind of situations and they can give a smoother experience. The main equipments are: motor which motor controller, 36V 10Ah SLA (sealed lead acid) battery pack with charger, mounting rack to mount solar panel and the battery, a 30watt solar panel and charge controller to convert the solar power into battery power. All these equipments are available in big retail stores such as Wal-Mart or one can also go for online shopping through eBay.
The equipments I have listed are to make basic version which one can avail within $300. But to get more power and mileage one can select higher range of products as well which may ranges from $400 – $800. Also I have assumed that users already have the bike with them so that cost hasn’t been included in the estimated cost.
Basically there are three components-motor, throttle and the battery. They have to be properly connected with the solar panel and the bicycle.
First unscrew all the components of the bicycle, especially the wheels and the carrier section. The battery will fit in the carrier section while the motor will get assemble in the wheels. The throttle and the motor will get connected with the battery through the connectors.
Secondly, put the battery inside its box as specified in the manual. There are two small holes in the box through which the connecting wires will come out and these wires are directly connected with the battery.
Thirdly, put the motor kit in the inside rim of the front wheel and then assemble it in its proper place.
Fourthly, unscrew the break at right hand side of the handle (assuming the user is a right handed person) and pull it out. Install the throttle unit in here.
Next, connect the throttle and motor with the battery unit with the help of the connectors. Now assemble the entire cycle together and test it by pressing the throttle button whether the motor in the front wheel is working or not. Once that working, the next step is to work on solar panels.
Now take the solar panel and mount it on the front side or on above the battery chamber. There’s a connector from the solar panel comes out which will go to the battery input unit and it will get connected in here. Now once the solar panel is charged, it will provide power supply to the battery to get it charged and provide power to the motor and the throttle.
Here are the popular frequently asked questions and their answer.
What is the Solar Panel for?
It is there to charge the battery that runs the motor. On long trip or hill area, it will give the extra boost and on short trip it will boost the speed.
Is it necessary to pedal?
While the solar power is on and the battery is fully charged, it is not really a necessity to pedal but it is helpful always.
Is it possible to change the batteries while pedaling?
In theory it is possible but in reality is not very comfortable and needs a lot of effort. Also the new battery may not give the same power as the earlier one.
How fast it can go?
It can go up to 80 km/h on the downhill, 34-48 km/h on flat ground while pedaling and on solar power, 32 km/h on 100% battery support on flat ground and 13-15 km/h on solar power only.
What is the range?
With fully charged battery it can go up to 55 km, and up to 140 km on a sunny day with fully powered battery on a flat ground. If the road is hilly the range comes down to half of the stated range on the flat ground.
Anyone can build it with some basic knowledge and it is always better to work on a mountain bicycle. Also with more powerful battery one can increase the mileage and range.
Things to Watch Out For
After finishing this project one can go for solar powered scooty or bike and then on car. We have to think of the greener future that can sustain and this is the best time everyone to take responsibility for it.
There are various companies out there in the market who offered this kind of bicycles and other accessories but it is better to ‘do it yourself’ by procuring the equipments. This way one can learn and have fun at the same time.