Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:14 am

I am considering the SV Leaf since I want to have the WINGS option available, but I'm curious to know the actual benefit that the Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler provides on the SL model. I read that it's purpose is to power the car's accessories and not the car battery.

Does anyone know if the Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler provides any benefit to the range of the car?

I personally like to listen to the radio while driving and having the AC turned up all the way in the summer and the heat in the winter (I live in TX).

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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:40 am

The rear spoiler PVC panel will keep the 12V battery topped off if you leave the car parked in the sun. Apart from that - at least for our 2011 - I am not aware of any other contribution.
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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:46 am

I think it produces something like 9 watts max....

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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:57 am

Randy wrote:I think it produces something like 9 watts max....

It trickle charges the battery and produces 5W maximum.
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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:57 pm

...but of course, by leaving your LEAF in the sun to trickle-charge the battery (especially in the summer), you're probably doing much more damage to your (much more expensive) traction battery. Better to park in the shade and forego the solar panel, since the traction battery automatically "tops up" the 12v accessory battery when necessary.

In short, the solar panel is "marketing fluff". :roll:

Full disclosure: I have one on my 2011 SL model... :lol:
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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:09 pm

I've always wondered if the solar panel isn't really nice because of how poorly the Leaf does keeping the 12v battery charged up.

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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:09 pm

You can blame me for the the solar panel :D More on that later.

If you watch the CAN bus while driving, you can see occasionally see the DC-to-DC converter running to charge the 12V system. This pulls a bit of energy out of the traction pack and charges the AUX battery. If you have the solar panel, this would happen less often, so you could get an extra bit of range. How far? Here is a quick napkin sketch:
Assuming the panel makes 100Wh on a given day (this is optimistic) and that completely offsets 100Wh from the traction pack, you'd have that much more for driving. Assuming 250Wh per mile, that will get you 0.4 miles.

If your car is kept under covered parking during the day, it would be even less. So the solar panel is a token, albeit an important one I would argue.

I got to meet with Mark Perry and Nissan execs from Japan in 2008 and I told them the story about whenever I had my electric truck at an EV event someone would suggest putting a solar panel on there with a statement like "This runs on electricity, solar panels make electricity. You should put one on there and just drive all day long." I would explain solar related things like available surface area, angle, and efficiency details. Often during this explanation their eyes would glaze over. So eventually, I changed to just saying "Well, I have solar on my house. It works better there since I never park my house in the shade."

I told the Nissan folks that they could avoid a deluge of email in their inbox from well intentioned, uninformed people by adding a solar panel; even if it is just a single small panel that is only offered as an overpriced accessory. It does not need to add any range it just needs a token function such as running a cooling fan. This gesture would make some customers happy.

I also suggested the range rings on map and asked for 3G charging station location updates since the infrastructure would be growing quickly during this time and I would not want to schedule dealer appointments for map updates each month. I was happy to see that Nissan did all of these. I wrote about all the things I suggested here.
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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:37 pm

patrick0101 wrote:I wrote about all the things I

Thanks for that - I'm a product manager and I like stories like this one.

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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:44 pm

patrick0101 wrote:I wrote about all the things I suggested here.

So you're the one to blame for the weak regen!!! :P

From that blog post in the section with braking spelled wrong:
My recommendation to Nissan was to keep the regen light until the brake pedal is actually touched. This makes it much easier to hypermile coast and extend the range.

Gaaahhh! You are the bane of existence of nearly all LEAF owners here! We could have had full-off-pedal regen had you suggested it instead of the opposite!
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Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:19 pm

Why not for say...1K add an option where the entire roof is a PV panel which feeds the main battery. Even if net effect is small (say 1 mile of range with 10 hours of direct sun light), city dwellers with street parking would get a minimal range increase, and need to seek 3rd party charging a little less often.
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