Check Out Tesla Cybertruck's Unique Solar Charging Tonneau Cover

MEDICALJMP

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Check Out Tesla Cybertruck's Unique Solar Charging Tonneau Cover
nneau-cover-is-cool-and-strategic-at-the-same-time.jpg



Jul 02, 2021 at 10:17am ET
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  • By Evannex
  • A patent application suggests Tesla has a solar charging tonneau cover in the works for the upcoming Cybertruck.
    This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla accessories. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We find the company's perspective as an aftermarket supplier of Tesla accessories interesting and are happy to share its content free of charge. Enjoy!
    Posted on EVANNEX on July 02, 2021 by Iqtidar Ali
    The next iteration, hopefully, the production version, of Tesla's Cybertruck should prove to be quite different from the prototype. Questions still remain about its size (ummm, garage-compatible?) and some of the forthcoming design tweaks. But one production-ready feature, teased via a recent Tesla patent application, really seems to stand out.
    la-cybertruck_2e99be9f-4d4d-4ebb-b418-b1cc5f0dc9f6.jpg
    Above: A look at the Cybertruck solar-powered tonneau cover (Source: Tesla)
    It turns out that a Tesla Cybertruck patent application recently surfaced on the websites of the US Patent Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It's likely this patent application hints at Tesla’s eagerness to start Cybertruck production soon — sometime later this year at Giga Texas.
    Okay, so what did the patent application reveal? It looks like Tesla could have a solar charging tonneau cover in the works. To be clear, the solar charging bed cover was already teased during Cybertruck's launch event — but this patent provides a definite sign that Tesla actually intends to take this to production.
    1625258298837.png


    Video: Watching the Cybertruck bed open and close (YouTube: Gresham Online)
    The opening and closing of the Cybertruck bed cover was showcased on the evening of the unveiling (see above). However, Tesla's patent application shows how this functionality actually works — interesting stuff for those engineering nerds out there.
    Section 0039 of Tesla's patent (WO 2021/102174 A1) notes, "In one embodiment, the tonneau cover comprises solar electric cells that are electrically connected to a photovoltaic charging system and battery... When the tonneau cover is deployed to cover the bed and the solar electric cells that make up the slats are facing the sun, the battery within the electric vehicle can be charged by the solar electric cells."
    la-Cybertruck-Tonneau-Cover-Solar-Closeup-1024x576.png
    Above: Schematic from the Tesla Cybertruck patent application (Source: WIPO)
    Back in 2016, Elon Musk had actually hinted at a solar car roof for the Tesla Model 3 on Twitter. And Tesla partner, Panasonic, has long been producing solar car roofs for the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf as well. That said, a solar-powered tonneau cover would be something wholly new for the pickup truck segment.

    That said, it’s not clear how much energy the solar cells (from the tonneau cover) will be able to "charge" back into the Cybertruck battery pack. According to some online observers (and their guesstimates), the size of the bed cover should be able to generate some 500 – 900 watts of energy for charging the battery on the go or while camping in the wild.
    Regardless of the actual solar power available, it'll be nice to drive the dark, ominous, apocalyptic Cybertruck on shiny rays of sunshine.

  • https://insideevs.com/news/517798/tesla-cybertruck-solar-charging-patent/
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Crissa

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A simplistic design would source thin-film monocrystalline cells that would be applied in 400v series strips adhered to each of the slats and then be connected in parallel so little voltage-shifting or thick wiring would be needed as it fed into the traction battery.

-Crissa
 

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A simplistic design would source thin-film monocrystalline cells that would be applied in 400v series strips adhered to each of the slats and then be connected in parallel so little voltage-shifting or thick wiring would be needed as it fed into the traction battery.

-Crissa
I hear those thin film solar cells with protective layers that are not glass don’t hold up so well over a long period. I bet they will make the grill slats to accept a glass cover solar cell. I hope they make some way to directly plug additional solar panels in without and inverter. So let’s say we bring an additional 1000 watts in panels with us camping and we can just use that universal solar plug and plug it right in. Getting 30 miles a day for charging is better than 15 miles
 

Crissa

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I hear those thin film solar cells with protective layers that are not glass...
...Aren't usually mounted to steel bars. Vibration and flexing is the enemy to thin-film connections, basically.

But yeah, I hope they have a MPPT with additional space we can just plug power sources into. Make it even more power source agnostic!

-Crissa
 

firsttruck

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I hear those thin film solar cells with protective layers that are not glass don’t hold up so well over a long period. I bet they will make the grill slats to accept a glass cover solar cell. I hope they make some way to directly plug additional solar panels in without and inverter. So let’s say we bring an additional 1000 watts in panels with us camping and we can just use that universal solar plug and plug it right in. Getting 30 miles a day for charging is better than 15 miles

Tesla already sells solar panels (not just solar roof tiles) so would be good for some buyers if Tesla gave buyers option for extra solar panels with Cybertruck and put cost of panels in loan with Cybertruck.
 

JBee

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This is not really new info, but lets talk anyway! :)

The solar vault cover is not really enough, you really need the whole rear roof area as well. Solar power is all about collection area x PV module conversion efficiency. Any solar on the vault cover will likely have to be strong enough to stand on, and withstand the flex of that. (Note how in the Leno video they cut the scene when EM steps on the vault cover)

There are some flexible PV cells out there (Sunpower etc) and they also have a "shingle" product that have a small form factor that would probably fit on the slats. Normal PV cells that are commonly used are cut out of round ingots (hence the cut corners), but these shingles are different. But because they are orientated sideways on the vault cover slats will be an issue, and make them hardy enough is not that trivial a task and will likely require custom cells and slat manufacturing to make it work. I'm wondering if the vault cover slats are made of extruded aluminum, probably the easiest and cheapest way to make them.I'd expect they'd try to use their own Solar roof production cells, if they want to bring costs down.

Solar rollerblinds would be another great product that they could spin off from the vault design. That would be great for houses with big glass greenhouses, as it would simultaneously collect sunlight and reduce heat input into the house. I'm also wondering if this might be possible on the inside of the CT glass roof panels, where we will need to see some sort of sunvisor. That would double the solar area of the vault. Or transparent cells in the glass...but they aren't very efficient.

Obviously any solar that is connected would want to be charging whilst you drive, and there's no reason not to have a MPPT charge controller connected, they're as cheap as chips.

It would be really nice to see a body builder accessory adapter like is used in most commercial vans, that will allow additional features from third parties to be integrated into the CT. Typically this only accommodates monitoring and control, so that you can display stuff on the CT screen, or control stuff from it. But there's not that much when it comes to power distribution integration in those systems.

A "power interface" would be a really welcomed feature I think. This would also manage the house connection, power tool plugs, and additional solar or 240V charging. Hopefully you can connect to it in the trunk and the frunk (with powerpoints in the cabin as well of course). Having an extra solar input for another 2-3kW would be ideal, especially if it works whilst driving. The same applies to 240V charging, in that throwing a small geny in the back of an open vault (that would be arrested to the bed) would really be helpful going bush in Oz. But I doubt we'll see 240V charging whilst driving...to bad. And running a power cable to the outside charging port will not be welcomed very much...let alone probably won't work either. (Drive away lockout whilst charging). But then a extra solar input at least whilst driving would be nice...

That brings us to mechanical tracking. Technically, the CT can track east to west by using the air suspension to roll if you park it with the rear facing the south (in the northern hemisphere). The amount of power used will be trivial to use this for tracking as the sun doesn't move that fast and you'd only have to correct it every 5-10minutes. The tracking angle of the suspension will also be limited, but will help. If you only park it for a short time obviously parking the rear towards the sun, and a bit in front of it, will always be best. But that really depends on your parking options, especially in town with buildings and trees making shade.

That leaves us with numbers:
Vault cover area 1500 x 1895mm = 2.7m² @ 20% eff. = 540W (33% eff. 890W)
Rear Roof including glass area is 5m² @ 20% eff. = 1kW (33% eff. 1.65kW PV)

Those don't equate to that much in miles, but they can take a chunk out of the average car miles driven per year (9375miles/15000km per year in AU):
  • For Denver:
    • Vault Cover 827kWh year: 2067 miles year - 5.6miles per day avg (3308km per year)
    • Rear Roof 1531kWh year: 3827miles year - 10.5 miles per day avg (6124km per year)
  • For LA
    • Vault Cover 880kWh year: 2200 miles (3520km per year)
    • Rear Roof 1629kWh year: 4072miles (6516km per year)
  • For Chicago
    • Vault Cover 679kWh year: 1697 miles (2716km per year)
    • Rear Roof 1258kWh year: 3145miles (5032km per year)
  • For Perth (AU)
    • Vault Cover 857kWh year: 2142 miles (3428km per year 6km per day avg)
    • Rear Roof 1588kWh year: 3970miles (6352km per year/ 10km per day avg)
(P.S. With "rear roof" I mean the whole area from the roof apex to the rear tailgate, including the rear roof glass and the vault cover when closed)

The thing to note here is that on a good summer day you can get over 50% extra per day range.
These numbers are from using PVWatts site.

So overall 15miles per day is a bit of a stretch just from the vault cover alone. But those miles start adding up over the hours of a year or over the lifetime of the vehicle. If we add multijunction cell efficiencies we also get a boost, but according to EM on Joe Rogan podcast they are to expensive and they don't even bother with them on their Starlink satellites.
 
Last edited:

ajdelange

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Are they wrong or something missing?
I had never been to this particular page but love that it gives FSE data for your neighborhood. Anyway, using that data my neighborhood receives, it says, on average 4.85 hrs FSE per day. Using your 2.7m² and 20% efficiency (a little pessimistic, I think) with 96% DC/DC converter efficiency that would give me 2.7*.2*.96*4.85*365.25 = 918 kWh/yr. Using 23% efficiency rather than 20% would get that up to 1056 kWh/yr. As these numbers are in the ballpark relative to what you computed I don't think you did anything wrong.

Now we have to note that the numbers I came up with assumes the panels are always aimed right at the sun. They can't possibly be unless you put the car on an adjustable ramp on a turntable so we have to take an appreciable chunk off. Probably half thus I'd estimate 500 kWh/yr at my location. That's around 1000 miles/yr or 2.7 mi/da. That's about a third of my phantom drain.
 

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I had never been to this particular page but love that it gives FSE data for your neighborhood. Anyway, using that data my neighborhood receives, it says, on average 4.85 hrs FSE per day. Using your 2.7m² and 20% efficiency (a little pessimistic, I think) with 96% DC/DC converter efficiency that would give me 2.7*.2*.96*4.85*365.25 = 918 kWh/yr. Using 23% efficiency rather than 20% would get that up to 1056 kWh/yr. As these numbers are in the ballpark relative to what you computed I don't think you did anything wrong.

Now we have to note that the numbers I came up with assumes the panels are always aimed right at the sun. They can't possibly be unless you put the car on an adjustable ramp on a turntable so we have to take an appreciable chunk off. Probably half thus I'd estimate 500 kWh/yr at my location. That's around 1000 miles/yr or 2.7 mi/da. That's about a third of my phantom drain.
Hey Ajdelange
Those numbers are with orientation, no tracking, and including conversion losses through a MPPT charger, as per what PVwatts calculate behind the scenes. They assume a moving sun as well.

You can add tracking etc in the pVwatts calc. or change the conversion efficiency etc.

BTW if you want to use a better modelling program, with finer control, the NREL also do SAM and its free to download.
 
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Check Out Tesla Cybertruck's Unique Solar Charging Tonneau Cover
nneau-cover-is-cool-and-strategic-at-the-same-time.jpg



Jul 02, 2021 at 10:17am ET
23
+
  • By Evannex
  • A patent application suggests Tesla has a solar charging tonneau cover in the works for the upcoming Cybertruck.
    This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla accessories. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We find the company's perspective as an aftermarket supplier of Tesla accessories interesting and are happy to share its content free of charge. Enjoy!
    Posted on EVANNEX on July 02, 2021 by Iqtidar Ali
    The next iteration, hopefully, the production version, of Tesla's Cybertruck should prove to be quite different from the prototype. Questions still remain about its size (ummm, garage-compatible?) and some of the forthcoming design tweaks. But one production-ready feature, teased via a recent Tesla patent application, really seems to stand out.
    la-cybertruck_2e99be9f-4d4d-4ebb-b418-b1cc5f0dc9f6.jpg
    Above: A look at the Cybertruck solar-powered tonneau cover (Source: Tesla)
    It turns out that a Tesla Cybertruck patent application recently surfaced on the websites of the US Patent Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It's likely this patent application hints at Tesla’s eagerness to start Cybertruck production soon — sometime later this year at Giga Texas.
    Okay, so what did the patent application reveal? It looks like Tesla could have a solar charging tonneau cover in the works. To be clear, the solar charging bed cover was already teased during Cybertruck's launch event — but this patent provides a definite sign that Tesla actually intends to take this to production.
    1625258298837.png


    Video: Watching the Cybertruck bed open and close (YouTube: Gresham Online)
    The opening and closing of the Cybertruck bed cover was showcased on the evening of the unveiling (see above). However, Tesla's patent application shows how this functionality actually works — interesting stuff for those engineering nerds out there.
    Section 0039 of Tesla's patent (WO 2021/102174 A1) notes, "In one embodiment, the tonneau cover comprises solar electric cells that are electrically connected to a photovoltaic charging system and battery... When the tonneau cover is deployed to cover the bed and the solar electric cells that make up the slats are facing the sun, the battery within the electric vehicle can be charged by the solar electric cells."
    la-Cybertruck-Tonneau-Cover-Solar-Closeup-1024x576.png
    Above: Schematic from the Tesla Cybertruck patent application (Source: WIPO)
    Back in 2016, Elon Musk had actually hinted at a solar car roof for the Tesla Model 3 on Twitter. And Tesla partner, Panasonic, has long been producing solar car roofs for the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf as well. That said, a solar-powered tonneau cover would be something wholly new for the pickup truck segment.

    That said, it’s not clear how much energy the solar cells (from the tonneau cover) will be able to "charge" back into the Cybertruck battery pack. According to some online observers (and their guesstimates), the size of the bed cover should be able to generate some 500 – 900 watts of energy for charging the battery on the go or while camping in the wild.
    Regardless of the actual solar power available, it'll be nice to drive the dark, ominous, apocalyptic Cybertruck on shiny rays of sunshine.

  • https://insideevs.com/news/517798/tesla-cybertruck-solar-charging-patent/
Just design it so this can be attached to the cover…
1625504166345.jpeg
 

ajdelange

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Hey Ajdelange
Those numbers are with orientation, no tracking, and including conversion losses through a MPPT charger, as per what PVwatts calculate behind the scenes. They assume a moving sun as well.
My number
2.7*.2*.96*4.85*365.25 = 918 kWh/yr
Is the area of the array times the assumed DC efficiency times the average hours of equivalent sun per day tines the number of days in the year. Thus they assume that whenever the sun is shining the panels are seeing 2.7 kW. Thus tracking is assumed. Pointing losses are not taken into account, but loss from the atmosphere at low elevation is. Dust, snow, shadowing are not. Thus the number represents the best possible case. Also keep in mind that one June might be sunnier than another.


BTW if you want to use a better modelling program, with finer control, the NREL also do SAM and its free to download.
I start with the sun's ephermeris (which I generate myself) and go from there for precise work. By comparing the FSE numbers calculated from just the position of the array and sun's ephermeris to the NREL numbers I can get an estimate of what the weather does.
 
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ThomasG

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Just measure the area available for PV and it will turn out to be insignificant. True, over the life of the truck, which may well be longer than an ICE, it will have a minimal effect on how often you have to charge it. It won't extend life from a charger connected to grid or a much bigger solar array enough to really matter. If will be fun to have, but you will still need to keep the next stop at a charger in the back of your mind at all times.
 

JBee

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My number
2.7*.2*.96*4.85*365.25 = 918 kWh/yr
Is the area of the array times the assumed DC efficiency times the average hours of equivalent sun per day tines the number of days in the year. Thus they assume that whenever the sun is shining the panels are seeing 2.7 kW. Thus tracking is assumed. Pointing losses are not taken into account, but loss from the atmosphere at low elevation is. Dust, snow, shadowing are not. Thus the number represents the best possible case. Also keep in mind that one June might be sunnier than another.


I start with the sun's ephermeris (which I generate myself) and go from there for precise work. By comparing the FSE numbers calculated from just the position of the array and sun's ephermeris to the NREL numbers I can get an estimate of what the weather does.
The pvwatts uses weather data as well.

Are you saying that the pvwatts calculation in the end is incorrect? And so are my numbers?
You can read through their calculation assumptions by clicking the "i" symbols etc.
 
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