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Lotus Mobile: A Portable, Affordable Solar Charging Solution?

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Lotus Mobile solar charging array (Image: Monarch Power)

Lotus Mobile solar charging array (Image: Monarch Power)

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Given millions of years of adaptation to conditions, it's no surprise that nature is pretty good at doing what it does.

Each leaf on a tree, and indeed the shape of a tree's canopy, is the work of refinements over millenia to capture the most sunlight possible to ensure the tree's growth.

Why not take some of those lessons and apply them to our own energy needs? That explains the familiar shape of the Lotus Mobile (via Earth Techling), a solar array designed for portability and optimized energy capture.

Arizona-based Monarch Power developed the Lotus Mobile, which uses eighteen solar panels in a circular array to capture sunlight for recharging electric cars and home appliances, depending on where you erect it.

It should be fairly efficient, as the company illustrates, "Lotus Mobile follows the sun on two axes, giving 30% more power than rooftop solar panels. It’s also less expensive because of significantly less structural support, since 70% of the traditional panel system cost is related to architectural placement."

It does't look particularly portable in its "flower" arrangement, but the panels fold up into a much smaller space for easy transportation. Realistically it's still more "cargo van" than "your car's trunk", but portability is relative to your needs.

That isn't just a boon if you want to charge your Tesla Roadster in the middle of nowhere--the car in the image above is owned my Monarch Power founder Joseph Hui--but also for use in areas with little to no power to start with, such as deprived areas of third-world countries.

That's where the Lotus Mobile's reasonable pricing also comes in. The company touts an "introductory price" of $3,999, but the first fifty contributors to the firm's Kickstarter campaign--not yet underway--will save a further $800.

For U.S. buyers, federal tax credits, and additional tax credits in Arizona where the company is based, could drop the price as low as $1,440.

You might not want to carry the Lotus Mobile around all the time, but for those expeditions into the wilderness--or simply attaching to your garage--it's a unique way of gathering clean energy for your electric vehicle.

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Comments (10)
  1. And how many watts??? Seems as though that was left out intentionally...
     
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  2. Better still, why don't the car manufacturers place the solar cells on the car's skin/body? Most cars park out on the sun all day and this would help top or partially charge their batteries. And with the newer, pliable, more efficient photovoltaic cells, it might be possible to get a complete charge.
     
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  3. did you do that math?

    The best case is if you get about 3-4 m^2 or 10-12 sq ft of surface area on a car. (that is already extreme).

    Solar power is about 1KW per meter^2 in an ideal situation. Solar panels are NO better than 20% in efficiency. Typical commerical ones are around 15-18% at best.

    Now let us assume all the angles are perfect and you get about 20% efficiency, it is ONLY 200W per m^2. That is at best 600W to 700W hour peak generation.

    Assume 5 hours @ peak (averaged out over 8 hr day). You will barely get about 3KWh (with 10% loss) in an ideal case. That is about 10-12 mi range at best.

    But the cost to get that will cost at least $3k if NOT more. It just doesn't make $ense.

    And I have solar on my house...
     
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  4. I approve of this calculation. ;)

    (Realistically, even 1 kWh on a good day would be great).

    Solar panels go on the roof of your house and you use that magic thingy called 'the grid' to transport it to your car.
     
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  5. I know.

    Maybe I sounded a little harsh. But don't get me wrong. I am a total supporter of EVs and Solar. But sometimes, certain idea just doesn't work. I firmly believe that solar panels belong to the roof of the house instead of roof of the car... Now, the roof of the carport? Now, that is an idea I can fully support.

    I am lucky enough that my work place actually has a 1MW solar installation that covers about 60% of 1 parking lot.
     
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  6. From the scale in the picture, this looks like it could help power my house + car(2kw). Could this be done for $3199? If so it could be semi-permanently mounted at my home and travel with me to camping or other remote locations.
     
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  7. Seems like the right direction...more, please on Kwh, and stored size.
     
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  8. It looks like it would keep the car cool too, big plus if you ask me
     
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  9. IF one was carrying this in the vehicle, it would be extremely heavy and incur a significant burden in terms of simply "moving that mass." OTOH, it it was installed, as noted by others, as a carport, it would provide shade AND power into the vehicle and/or grid. Charging from the grid IMHO is still the best source for EVs, but having many solar PV systems feeding INTO the grid should be a major source for that system's power base.

    However, has anybody actually tried to find the links to either the Kickstarter source or other "hard info" on this product/company?
     
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  10. Thunder-dome - great. A thunderdome vehicle. Perfect for the Australian outback. The perfect transportation to replace the 'train to nowhere' in Australian desert.
    Your all talking like 'I can't do this as the technology is impossible' technicians.
    This picture is great.
    I noticed an amazing coincidence.
    If you see on watt/mile/speed charts, for eg. tesla, that to go 30 miles an hour takes only 150 watts.
    That is amazing.
    It would be possible to put solar cells on your next car so the solar cells drive the car at or below the 30mph city speed limit.
    The main battery could drive the car over that speed and highway speeds. This fantastic solar array could drive the car all day at 30 miles an hour. at least 400 miles a day using solar.
     
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