Will Solar Panels Help Power an EV?
If you put solar panels on your car would it help? If you did it right, would it be like adding one or more batteries? Let's say you are at work and your car sits in the sun all day then you can recharge your batteries in that time and need less power from the house.
Last, couldn't you make so that when the car is fully charged it will give the extra power back to the house?
Yes, sort of, yes, and yes.
At the risk of raining on your solar panel parade, I'm not enormously in favor of placing solar panels on top of electric cars - for the time being - for practical reasons.
The solar technology we have now is better applied through panels you put on your house (or work, if you've got that freedom), placed for optimal sun-gathering, stored in stationary batteries or fed back to the grid, then used to power your car. Today, you'll get the most bang for your solar buck if you spend it that way.
They're bulky and fairly inefficient when placed on the car as a range extender, but not useless, by any means. They will add, say, five miles onto your range.
This brings us to question two: Will it act as an extra battery? Does five miles added to your range equal one battery? This only works as a math problem. If 20 batteries give you 50 miles, then, um...then 5 extra miles is like two extra batteries; )
Third question: yes, that's how it works. Car sits in the sun all day with a panel on top, and you extend your range.
Four: Yes. When solar gathering ability allows a small, light, portable panel to gather more energy than your car needs in order to move its wheels (we're not there yet), you can sell it back to the grid. Folks who have solar panels on their houses do this now.
P.S. Interested in solar energy? Read my articles about solar panels on EVs and the future of solar energy in the US.