Why Do People Put Solar Panels on Their Trucks | Crosspoint

May 25, 2023 | Solar

Why Do People Put Solar Panels on Their Trucks?

A truck with a solar panel, text saying truck mounted solar. Driving down the highway, you may have noticed solar panels mounted on the air fairing on the top of trucks. You may be wondering what these semi-truck mounted solar panels are for?

As solar panels gain in popularity, their costs have decreased, giving them a broad range of increased use case scenarios. In particular, thin film, flexible panels have become efficient and cheaper and many industries have adopted solar panels for use in a variety of applications.

Are Solar Powered Commercial Trucks a Thing?

Many fleets, including Walmart and Nussbaum, have implemented solar panels into their commercial truck fleet. These trucks are diesel powered trucks that utilize solar panels to keep their 12v system charged.

Solar panel output is limited by the amount of surface area of the panel. The limited surface area on the air fairing on the top of a truck isn’t sufficient to power an electrically driven truck. This doesn’t mean that solar panel technology won’t be used to assist electric semi-trucks in the future.

A semi truck with a solar panel mounted on the fairing. Studies have been done in Europe where a trailer has been outfitted with solar panels to assist an electrically powered semi-truck. The increased surface area on the top of a trailer can be used for a larger amount of solar panels. When these panels are tied into the truck system, they can increase the range of the electric semi-truck by up to 10% in ideal conditions.

Why You Should Install Solar on Your Truck

While solar panels won’t be able to power your truck down the road anytime soon, there are still many benefits to installing a solar panel on your class 8 truck.

Extend Battery Life

Conventional lead acid batteries do not handle deep charge cycles very well. A solar panel helps keep the batteries topped off and reduces deep charge cycles. This helps extend the battery life.

No More Jump Starts

If your truck stays parked for any extended period, you could certainly benefit from having a solar panel installed on your truck. Today’s trucks have many electronic systems that create a parasitic load, even when the truck is turned off. While you can certainly switch off the battery kill switch, a solar panel and battery charger is cheap insurance from having to deal with the frustrations of a dead battery.

A solar panel mounted on a trailer refrigeration unit. Ease the Load on your Alternator

Today’s semi-trucks come equipped with many of the comforts of home. While you are out on the road, you may stop to heat up your food with your microwave or watch a show on your tv in your sleeper. When you switch your truck on, this power must be replenished through your alternator. A solar panel can help ease the load on your alternator and potentially extend the life of your alternator.

Solar Panels for Refrigeration Units

Many refrigerated trailers are using solar panels. These panels are cheap insurance against a no start unit. Refrigerated trailers may remain parked for weeks at a time. With 100% of new refrigerated trailer units supplied with telematics systems, all new units have a parasitic load on the battery. Nearly 50% of units supplied by Crosspoint Power and Refrigeration supplies are equipped with a solar charging system.

Contact Crosspoint To Learn More About Solar Today!

Crosspoint Power and Refrigeration sells several lines of solar charging systems. Our thin film solar panels are flexible and can quickly be installed on you truck or trailer. Contact us today today for a free quote or visit our solar panel webpage for more information.

A man holding up a curved solar panel.

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