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).

Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:29 am
Delivery Date: 09 Sep 2011
Leaf Number: 8765
Location: Palmdale, CA

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.
2011 Glacier Pearl SL QC
Manf: 8/11 Delivered: 9/9/11
58,900 miles 10/09/15; New 2015 Bat 6/00/15, 55558; 66.14AHr
1BC 6/22/13@28310; 2BC 3/23/14@39750; 3BC 9/30/14@46,292; 4CB 6/12/15@55175, 170-185 G; 43.27AHr
PV: 7.2kW, ~13,500 kWh/yr since 3/06

User avatar
Posts: 2084
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:29 pm
Delivery Date: 04 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0191
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Photovoltaic solar-panel rear spoiler

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:46 am

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

Posts: 4828
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:08 pm
Delivery Date: 08 Jun 2011
Leaf Number: 1855
Location: Phoenix Area

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.
2013 LEAF SV Del. 2/28/13
2013 LEAF World Record for Most Miles Driven On One Charge-188 miles/8.8 m/kW h
4.8 kW DC PV ($ .91/W fully installed)/ Dec., 2010

Posts: 297
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:38 am
Delivery Date: 02 Jul 2011
Leaf Number: 5175
Location: Northridge, CA

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:
Ocean Blue SL-e
Per LEAF Spy as of 03/21/18: 11 bars, 230 GIDs, 53.5 AHr on new (04/30/15) Lizard battery (1st bar lost 12/22/17)
Orig. battery lost 4th bar at 177 GIDs, 43.19 AHr, 44.74 Hx, 65% SOH after 45 months

Posts: 416
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:49 pm
Delivery Date: 05 Aug 2012
Location: Portland, OR

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.

User avatar
Posts: 368
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:46 pm
Delivery Date: 18 May 2011
Leaf Number: 1823
Contact: Website

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.
SLe VIN 1823 reserved 4/20/10, delivered 5/18/11
1998 Chevy S10EV (Feb 2007 - May 8th 2011)
4kW Solar PV '07, 12kW in '15
Oregon Electric Vehicle Association
Occasional writer
Occasional panelist
Cars with Cords blogger

User avatar
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:54 pm
Delivery Date: 10 Aug 2013
Location: Texas Hill Country

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.

User avatar
Posts: 6218
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:51 pm
Location: San Diego

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!
'11 LEAF SL Powered By 3.24 kW Enphase Solar PV

Posts: 288
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 8:21 pm
Delivery Date: 18 May 2013
Leaf Number: 407811
Location: Chicago North Side

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.
2013 SV Black
Miles: 17500
Average Carwings/Dash Efficiency: 4.5-6.5M/KWh (summer) ~2.8-3.9 winter
100 Mile Club Member (Number 87), Max distance 120 miles

Return to “Batteries & Charging”