MC4 Solar Port as charging option – Video Idea

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions MC4 Solar Port as charging option – Video Idea

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions MC4 Solar Port as charging option – Video Idea

  • MC4 Solar Port as charging option – Video Idea

     Raj Giandeep updated 7 months, 1 week ago 19 Members · 46 Posts
  • Raj Giandeep

    Member
    August 19, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Made this video to explain my idea. Would you use something like this? You can find used solar panels or even new for pretty cheap now.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqaWabBPb-w

  • Morris Wilder

    Member
    August 19, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Hmmm…very interesting ????

  • John Malcom

    Member
    August 19, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Looks like an aftermarket/third party opportunity for the next version of Aptera. Best to not have engineering changes requiring, design, fabrication, integration and testing this close to production.

  • Fanfare 100

    Member
    August 19, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    I love your idea & video!! Thank you very much for sharing your thoughtful solar extension solution. This collaborative inclusionary community forum encourages the free-flow of constructive ideas such as these.

    Would your good idea also work with flex/foldable solar panels? (please see pictures) Reason I ask is that those, though slightly less efficient, are more portable and if, say, I were to decide to take a trek across the Yukon or Northwest Territories where you might not see a soul for hundreds of miles, I could deploy many more flex panels to serve as complement to the Aptera’s and I believe that as such I might be able to accommodate considerably more wattage than from rigid ones when making such a Trek.

    Whether this idea is incorporated for this build (schedule and Level-of-Effort-Permitting or for next year’s build will be for the great team at Aptera to decide, though they appear to always be open to great suggestions such as yours and it would seem to me that an option such as this would be easy enough to implement.

    Keep the awesome ideas flowing Raj! Teamwork, though some authoritarian spirits may dislike it, can even serve as a catalyst to the accelerations of engineering solutions. Because some of the best ideas come from outside of a closed engineering bubble. Aptera is by no means such a bubble and it is precisely why they took the initiative to create such an open forum open to all constructive contributors whether they have degrees or no degrees or directors for space agencies or street sweepers. That’s what I like about this place. Just as the Aptera performs a daily Surya Namascar, I feel the general consensus is that we all have a voice under the sun here, and I appreciate that.

    I will propagate your wonderfully insightful well-deserving inspirational video to the 4 winds that blow. Perhaps it will inspire and motivate others to also think out of the box. Again, thank you Raj!

    • Raj Giandeep

      Member
      August 25, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Thanks for the feedback. To me it seems like a fairly simple addition, yet also compliments their “never charge” marketing.

      Throw in flexible panels in the trunk of the aptera for road trips & using them when parked would be awesome I think. Traditional mounted panels for at home or maybe even use the flexible on a temporary mounting position.

  • GRAUSS Thierry

    Member
    August 19, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    Good idea.

    I have seen people making a solar trailer (some panels mounted on a trailer with an inverter) to power a small construction site and a micro-excavator (DIY modification of a Phoenix400 excavator kit to make it hybrid Diesel/Electric (you can choose the power source)).

    The excavator is much quieter and cheaper to run using electricity.

    So an Aptera where you could connect additional PV and have a 240V/3kW (12.5A) output would be nice 🙂

  • Timothy Messersmith

    Member
    October 27, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Yes!

    This might be the deciding factor for me to buy this.

    If I drive to my secret off-grid cabin in the desert, I could simply plug-in to the panels on the cabin roof.

    It would give me the extra miles I’d need to make it back to the office on time.

    Genius idea !

    I see it as a ‘must’ to capture a lot more people in the camping/off grid market, and probably not too hard to engineer in.

  • David Marlow

    Member
    October 27, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Great idea, would go with the camping option very well. In some situations there may be a problem with theft of the panels, if lift unattended.

  • Riley ________________________________

    Member
    October 28, 2021 at 2:57 am

    On the first generation Aptera adding our own aftermarket solar charging port is likely going to be the only way this can happen. There will need to be some testing to see at what point adding more solar panels maxes out the onboard solar charger or possibly even fries it.

  • Ray Holan

    Moderator
    October 28, 2021 at 5:53 am

    Thumbs up on this one, Raj. This idea has been mentioned in other threads and would really appeal to campers for sure. I have a PV system on my house roof so I’m solar charging the Aptera from that when I’m at home, but I like the idea of extending the vehicle range with what you’ve proposed.

    There are many light, foldable solar panels on the market. All we need is the correct outlet to plug into on the Aptera. This would probably have to be offered from the factory since I can’t see them being very happy with us splicing into the wiring in a major way. Riley’s point is right on insofar as there is such a thing as a solar charge controller that is a key component between the onboard solar cells and the battery pack (assuming that the solar charge controller is built into Aptera circuitry already) that is rated for a certain level of input. Probably good for 700 watts no matter how you spec your solar cells for the vehicle. Would it be OK with 1200 watts of more? We’ll have to wait and see.

  • Peter Jorgensen

    Member
    October 28, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Aptera mentioned once when asked about plugging in extra solar panels that they would look at adding a plug for additional solar. FYI… We’ll see if it happens but they’re considering the idea.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      October 28, 2021 at 8:11 am

      Thanks for the update, Peter. It’s difficult to keep track of statements made by Chris or Steve, isn’t it? Takes a good memory or a lot of YouTube viewing. LOL.

      • Peter Jorgensen

        Member
        October 28, 2021 at 8:37 am

        Or both… The other good problem is they are so open they often say stuff like “That’s a great idea – we’ll consider it” then they don’t do it for good reason but everyone latches onto it because we’re so excited and eager about everything.

  • Russell Fauver

    Member
    October 30, 2021 at 9:25 am

    What a great idea! Over the past 9-10 years I have been adding solar to offset my power consumption. I now have plenty for my home, lawnmower, EV, and whatnot. But this summer my power company changed their rules and are now charging me a monthly fee for each solar panel connected to their grid. Being able to connect panels directly to the Aptera would be a great way to offset its consumption without having to pay any additional monthly fees to the power company.

    • Curtis Cibinel

      Member
      October 30, 2021 at 9:51 am

      Residential solar is very much at the mercy of the power companies policies (which are at the mercy of government policies which are influenced by the lobbyists of the power companies). This is why things like powerwalls are nearly useless in some areas (like mine with no time of day and equal $ amount of kwh fed into the grid) and essential in others with far less favorable deals. A change like the one your describing makes a big difference on the time to justify the panels and can unfortunately come in at any time.
      It a complicated mix of technology, politics and business with big differences from one area to the next. In a free market large solar farms and commercial buildings roofs (ie walmart) should make far more economic sense (materials and man hours) for solar than residential but the incentives skew this. Keeping free of things like building permits and electricians by putting it on the car really works not because of engineering but dodging red tape and avoiding being at the mercy of changing rules.

    • Raj Giandeep

      Member
      November 6, 2021 at 6:31 pm

      Frustrating that electric companies are charging us for putting solar panels up. We are helping the grid be more stable & being charged extra for that. boo

      You could have 2 or 3 panels on the roof that you can flip a switch to isolate it & use it to charge the Aptera. Then when your done charging, you can connect it back to the full array.

      I just love the idea of flexible solar panels that weight very little to boost the range on a camping trip.

  • Richard Tidd

    Member
    November 6, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    I had the same thought and sent a suggestion to Aptera re adding external solar panel connections.

    Here is the reply I got:

    “I will pass along the external solar panel connection suggestion to our engineering lead along with your entire message. Another great idea…this is most appreciated!
    Thank you!
    Audra”

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 6, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Yes, this is a no brainer Raj IMHO.

    It only becomes as difficult as the least naysayer &/or commitment thereof.

    Complicated minds often see ALL things as complicated. A nimble company, and product in beta, has the benefit of open minds and can do attitudes vs. excuses.

    In business, don’t tell me how we can’t do something, tell me how we can!

    I could fill a stadium with the “can’t doers” and that’s not innovation, vision of future; nor a healthy company &/or the right culture. Is that the team you’d want on your side? The can’t doers, won’t doers or predictable naysayers? The Leaders of Excuse?

    I hate that mindset with a passion!

    Motivate, accelerate, accommodate, Innovate… & cut the DEAD weight.

    Don’t concede away any legit “improvement” ideas automatically, or by reflex, due to some preconceived standards &/or norms (that exist, essentially, in your own mind).

    Innovators (& Imagineers) need leed (& challenge) engineers in order to fulfill the greatest of innovations & products.

    Understand the value of patience, time, and money... and not necessarily in that order.

    FLEXIBILITY means getting it right the first time.

    Additional, and reasonable, low cost logic is “logical” prior to final production. In this instance, and perhaps the valid many, it’s far from a full on major redesign. Engineers need accommodate, not necessarily dictate.

    There’s are some definite similarities in between MBA’s, accountants & a lot and of engineers that I won’t go into here. Old school, text book approaches over entrepreneurial. Linear thinking that often lacks imagination. Everyone has a role & something to offer but innovation seldom rests on those shoulders alone.

    One of Tesla’s greatest strengths has been, & is known to be, is its ability to quickly adapt, evolve & change.

    Good, “creative ideas” should always be considered with a full discussion flow; always exploring the “what if’s” &/or opportunities vs. stymying free thought whether here, or whether elsewhere.

    Don’t fight (or compete) if you don’t intend to win (constantly adapting, & evaluating, in order to win).

    Surround yourself with people on the same mission as YOU!!

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 7, 2021 at 1:05 am

    Typo. Was to read…

    There’s are some definite similarities between MBA’s, accountants & a lot of engineers that I won’t go into here. Structured, old school, text book approaches over entrepreneurial. Linear thinking that often lacks imagination. Everyone has a role & something to offer but innovation seldom rests on those shoulders alone.

    • Ron Ledohowski

      Member
      November 7, 2021 at 4:33 pm

      “Old School” mentality vs. Innovative Entrepreneurial?!

  • John Paulus

    Member
    November 7, 2021 at 7:26 am

    I have been thinking about this concept since I first read about Aptera. Not just for camping but as a greater approach to keep a larger part of transportation energy truly clean and off grid. Ground mounted PV panels at work or at home or at parks or at shopping malls that directly charged high efficiency EV’s would be a perfect layout for a low carb transportation system. The oversized battery/range of Aptera allows for lots of weather buffering as well as future V2G integration from zero emission sources. There are solar EV charging systems available that cost more than the car as they have their own storage and inverters. As such they are not generally viable. None of that very costly equipment is truly needed. Aptera could lead the world in this obvious approach by allowing a direct dynamic input from external PV panels. The 40 mile estimated solar range is based on full solar coverage including the back panel which may or may not be legal or desirable. Further it is based on southern ca which has a very high solar potential. A more realistic full off grid driving condition around the country will only be had by allowing external direct PV input.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      November 7, 2021 at 8:19 am

      John, thanks for your idea:

      “Ground mounted PV panels at work or at home or at parks or at shopping malls that directly charged high efficiency EV’s would be a perfect layout for a low carb transportation system.”

      On the plus side, the cost of such an installation would be MUCH less than a Tesla supercharger. On the negative side, if such a unit did not incorporate battery storage from which we could draw charging power, we would be stuck with using the unit only as long as the sun was shining when we were connected to the unit.

  • John Paulus

    Member
    November 7, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    Yes, this is obviously the case. But the integrated solar on the car also only charges while the sun shines. A hefty ground mounted solar array located where you typically park would extend your solar range enormously at low cost. Even if every watt hour is not captured.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      November 7, 2021 at 4:30 pm

      I hear you, John. Every little watt helps!

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 7, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    I have edited a recent video, which I’ve posted in “totality” elsewhere, to further my repeated point & stated opinion.

    “Good is good enough” MBA Bullcrap plus some interesting (& well stated) “Luddite” descriptive.

    Times, they are a changing.

    Old school thinking is being replaced by entrepreneurial thinking, and we will all benefit as a result.

    If everything was a simple textbook recipe for success, everyone would be successful (and “same”)? Professors, & many consultants, would likely make much more money doing what they teach than teaching? If only the world stood still; adapted to the theories, philosophies and intellectual models ie. MBA mental masturbation alone. Yes, I know I’m being harsh and I’m doing so to simply make a point.

    I suspect I come from a different life, background & mindset than “some” who often seem to have the loudest voice, at times here; pushing in every post their “several decades of experience” and “self accolades” leading the post with authoritive self-righteousness, & (most often) irrelevant boasts. Definition of subconscious obsoletion, perhaps? Justification of one’s existence & opinion; maybe just simple insecurities? Maybe & maybe. Time doesn’t sit still nor follow YOU (or anyone) based on the qualities of same old and me too “text book” qualities of thinking; thought & approach.

    What is a “technocrat”?:

    Constantly INNOVATE (push boundaries of traditional thought) or DIE!

    Sandy Munro (video & excerpts) is dead on. Worth the watch.:

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 7, 2021 at 6:46 pm
  • Robert Klasson

    Member
    November 8, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    I just read up a bit on the MC4 connector standard. The conclusion I arrived at is that it is unsuitable as a charging connector for two reasons:

    – It requires a tool for disconnection

    – It’s not made for unplugging under load

    I still hope we’ll get a connector to add external solar panels, but I don’t think MC4 connectors are suitable. They’re made for more or less permanent installations.

    I don’t know if there is anything suitable out there, but I think a port for connecting external solar should either be made for live disconnection or lockable by the car so the car can switch off the connection to the external solar panels before unlocking, preferably with the possibility to make a cheap adapter for MC4 connectors, since from what I’ve read, most solar panels today come with MC4 connectors for ease of installation.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      November 8, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      Robert, here’s the connectors that adapt the MC4 connectors coming from my single 185 watt solar panel to this other connector that plugs into my Jackery solar generator. I don’t know the name of the two-prong connector. This seems to works nicely.

      • Paul Schultz

        Member
        November 8, 2021 at 5:20 pm

        This is an Anderson Connector and is the common connector for connecting higher throughput DC power. It is commonly used for connecting auxiliary solar to RVs that have roof-mounted solar panels but also needs to supplement with mobile ‘suitcase’ panels if they park under a tree canopy.

        Also, it is important to point out that many suitcase solar panels already have a controller. This is due to the fact that most make a direct connection to an RV storage battery setup. The power does not go through the RVs solar controller used for the roof-mounted panels. So, if an auxiliary connector is added to an Aptera it needs to be decided whether the panels need an auxiliary controller. Or, do they use the OEM controller? Finally, suitcase panels currently available are compatible with charging a 12V battery system. I don’t know the voltage provided by the Aptera panels to their solar/charge controller. If not a base 12V system then using current off-the-shelf suitcase panels for supplementation won’t be a simply plug-and-play.

        Paul

        • Ray Holan

          Moderator
          November 8, 2021 at 6:03 pm

          Paul, thanks for your informed response. This forum is a great free university thanks to contributions like this.

  • John Paulus

    Member
    November 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    One would think that wiring up a connector to plug into the existing basic level 1/2 input charge port would be the thing. The car then has to accept the dirty dc through its input protective circuitry that is intended for clean well conditioned AC. So long as the solar panels were configured so the max voltage could not exceed a certain level, it seems feasible. Any third party input has to conform to the cars existing needs and would need battery at least for stability, inverter, etc. driving up the cost. Same as any other EV. The real sweet spot is for the car to accept the variable charge input through its normal charge port so only the external panels are required. Then clean off grid driving can expand as much as you want.

  • John Young

    Member
    November 9, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Yup. This has been mentioned many times over the months in Q&A with Chris and/or Steve. Main issue is that you need to make it Voltage and Amperage agnostic up to a certain point. If you’ve played around with solar you know you need a solar controller. Obviously Aptera will have one for the 700 watts on the car. That will be very specific to this application. Ideally you would have a second one for external panel input that could handle, say, up to 2,000 watts. Ok…But then you have to make it be able to handle a wide range of voltages and amperages, ok, then you have to create an adapter for the car that can integrate with a DC connection of unknown type and gauge wire, ok… That all adds cost, complexity and time. I still like the idea, and would like to see the ability to plug panels directly in as well…but looking at it from the engineering point of view it is a waste of resources at this point. I could see it being added down the road or someone coming up with a small, 3rd party device that will turn solar panel DC into usable Aptera DC and deliver it through whatever DC to DC connector they are going to use for fast charging.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      November 10, 2021 at 7:01 am

      Thanks for pointing out the engineering challenges, John.

      One method we have at our disposal without any new components on Aptera’s part is to plug external panels into a solar generator and then use the 110V output from the inverters in that device to charge the Aptera. Pretty sure vehicle handles level 1 and level 2 charging. Admittedly there is an energy loss in converting DC from the panels to AC in the solar generator, but this will work out of the gate. This kind of product varies in price from sub $300 on up to $1,000 plus depending upon the amount of solar panel input you want to handle.

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 10, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Aptera could spec &/or “supply as accessory item” their own OEM branded external panels for best compatibility and as yet another upsell (or after sale) opportunity.

    Just a thought.

    Developing an extended ecosystem for one’s brand is always good thing to do, IMHO.

    • Ray Holan

      Moderator
      November 10, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Like your idea, Ron. EGO electric yard tools is a good example of that. I bought one of their battery powered grass mowers and later got sucked into a leaf blower and a chainsaw from the same company. Apple snared me years ago with a Mac, now I have a desktop, a laptop, Apple TV, and his and her iPhones.

      The other option is some kind of co-marketing arrangement with a solar generator company such as Jackery. They are in Fremont California about 400 miles North of Carlsbad, the site of the new Aptera location.

      Offering one of their units as part of an Aptera option package would be mutually beneficial. It would especially appeal to owners opting for the Aptera camping package as it provides substantial off-grid 110V AC and 12V DC output out in the wild. Their $1,500 retail unit accommodates 400W maximum solar input.

    • Paul Schultz

      Member
      November 11, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      The real problem is that I will drive my Aptera to work and would not be able to set out panels in the work parking lot. Vehicles are driven mostly in the daylight. Added panels, if used at home would be plugged into my Aptera mostly during nighttime hours. This makes a directly connected set of panels less practical.

      I suppose in an ideal work setting that has the space a person could bring some portable panels in the back of the Aptera, set them up in the work parking lot, and gain some additional amp-hours while at work. But, these panels could be easily stolen if unattended… adding yet another concern. This is a concern for some RVers.

      I think if anyone wants to enhance their level of off-the-grid charging from home with additional panels they may want to consider a dedicated home solar set-up with storage batteries. Then, once a person returns home from work the solar energy stored during the workday could be used to supplement the charging of an Aptera overnight.

      While the concept of additional panels is intriguing I just don’t think this idea will be as practical for daily use for anyone that commutes to a full-time job and gets home to their supplemental panels in the evening.

      Paul

      • Ray Holan

        Moderator
        November 12, 2021 at 5:38 am

        Point taken, Paul. I forgot about the risk of scofflaws snagging one’s external solar panels.

      • Ron Ledohowski

        Member
        November 12, 2021 at 6:41 am

        Whilst there is truth to what you say, not everyone will see it the same way or have the same circumstances.

        For those that don’t use Aptera daily &/or have other vehicles, a separate panel system can certainly be secured depending on the individual’s particular situation. Some may actually attach to their home, garage, shed or accessory building without “yet” going into a full solar array on the roof to supply one’s home or business. If you are a person who can charge using your Aptera during the day and have a secure location in which to place or mount your external panels, why wouldn’t you?

        At the cabin, farm or rural locations are a couple additional examples but certainly not limited to.

        Aptera apparently is using the Sunpower Maxeon solar cells. This link (& its product line) may provide an answer (or multiple varied ones) to us all.

        https://us.sunpower.com/products/wallbox-ev-charger

      • Riley ________________________________

        Member
        November 12, 2021 at 6:59 am

        I work nights and my car is parked at home all day. Works great for me but I am not a normal case. I think the option to add additional external solar panels would best suit people camping or overlanding. As for people wanting to add solar while parked at work, I think it would be cool if there was an aftermarket solar panel holder that unfolds out the hatch and holds a panel on either side of the car.

        • Raj Giandeep

          Member
          November 23, 2021 at 9:25 am

          I like that idea Riley. Maybe adjustable angles too.

  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 14, 2021 at 12:47 am
  • Ron Ledohowski

    Member
    November 14, 2021 at 3:45 am

    “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles (2019 Remix):

    Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun

    And I say it’s all right

    Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter

    Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

    Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun

    And I say it’s all right

    Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

    Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

    Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun

    And I say it’s all right

    Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

    Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

    Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

    Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

    Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

    Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

    Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

    Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun

    And I say it’s all right

    Here comes the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo, here comes the sun

    It’s all right

    It’s all right

    • Ron Ledohowski

      Member
      November 14, 2021 at 3:47 am

      “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers:

      When I wake up in the morning, love

      And the sunlight hurts my eyes

      And something without warning, love

      Bears heavy on my mind

      Then I look at you

      And the world’s alright with me

      Just one look at you

      And I know it’s gonna be

      A lovely day

      … lovely day, lovely day, lovely day …

      When the day that lies ahead of me

      Seems impossible to face

      When someone else instead of me

      Always seems to know the way

      Then I look at you

      And the world’s alright with me

      Just one look at you

      And I know it’s gonna be

      A lovely day…..

      When the day that lies ahead of me

      Seems impossible to face

      When someone else instead of me

      Always seems to know the way

      Then I look at you

      And the world’s alright with me

      Just one look at you

      And I know it’s gonna be

      A lovely day……

      • Lou Verner

        Member
        November 14, 2021 at 3:58 am

        It continues to amaze me how many other “likes” those of us in the Aperta community share. Have always been a huge Bill Withers fan since the 70s…(Just the Two of Us, Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine, etc) sorry that he passed a few years ago. So thanks Ron for this post…Lovely Day indeed!

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