Solar Powered eboard concept- charging the battery while you ride (DONE BUILDING!)

Basically, I’ve decided to do my science fair project on solar cells built into an electric skateboard. There will be a main set in the middle (as pictured) that can be charging at all times, and two fold out panels on the sides that can be used to charge faster once you arrive at your destination. This is just the first concept I came up with, and definitely not final… things like where I will put the electronics and stuff haven’t been fully worked out obviously; it’s still in the “idea stage”

But here’s the general plan:

get a relatively large deck that is wide, and without taper front to back. cut out the entire middle (I don’t have an Xcarve or cnc machine, so this will have to do) and then reinforce the deck by lining the bottom with a sheet of aluminum (or steel if you guys think that’d be a safer bet) then, the top of the board with be covered with a sheet of plexiglass, not unlike the jelly skateboards from kickstarter a couple months back. Basically a skateboard sandwich: plexiglass on the top, the board in the middle (with the solar cells) and a metal sheet on the bottom. I will probably make more than one deck(I was thinking 2 or 3 distinctly different ones), with the variable either being the layout, cells, or both (depending on costs, as with two varables I would definitely need more than 3 decks…) The electronics will be housed in a separate enclosure, that I can swapped between decks (along with the skate hardware like trucks, mount, and motor) so I am technically just building decks, and not multiple eboards…

So basically can I charge the space cell while riding it?

I’m pretty sure I could, considering Jason is working on a booster pack for the space cell, but I just want to confirm before blowing up my battery


I think this is a great idea for a project!


Hell yes. Solar boarding! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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Awesome! Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

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GREAT IDEA! This will make a fantastic project! However I suggest this should be a new thread in the “eboards innovators” category. Also change the name. Maybe: “Solar Powered Electric Skateboard Concept - Using S.P.A.C.E Cell”

Ill double check about charging & riding at the same time, i think the answer is YES, but better to double check!

Regarding integrating the Solar panel into the deck itself, i think it is a great idea. However it is worth noting that solar panels don’t work well if shadowed, so the riders shadow will be an issue. you are better off having many smaller solar panel units in parallel, this way if one unit is blocked from the sun it doesn’t effect the power supply. (except you lose some amps)

If one large panel is just partially blocked it can basically shut down, so you can lose all useful power.

I don’t really like the hinges, maybe its too heavy or too bulky, I think you can use that concept of additioal panel folding out, but it needs to be done using more lightweight, simple & sleeker methods. Maybe draw sliders.

Also i think you could incorporate flexible solar panels somehow

Maybe also incorporate a front (& maybe rear) windshield to help wind against resistance & also give you another place to mount some flexible solar panels. You should be able to get something cheap from an old motorcycle, Ideally this should be angle adjustable depending on the time of day! Morning and arvo angled at 45 towards sun, midday laying flatter.

Don’t forget wearables, at least have auxiliary plugs for expansion.

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sounds good, and the feedback is awesome!

My plan was to buy individual solar cells (the highest efficiency I can find with breaking the bank) and solder them together myself. On average, it seems a small cell with deliver .5-2v at 2-5amps, depending on it’s size and such. This would require me to hook them in series more than parallel, so I’ll have to keep looking on that… I would say I’ve only looked around at solar cells for a couple hours over this past week, and I started off not knowing anything. It will just take research- just like building you first eboard, or basically any other project that you’re embarking on for the first time!

I did see a laptop solar charger similar to the foldout one you pictured, and it gave enough juice to power the laptop without the battery kicking in on an overcast day. When it cleared up, it was able to power and charge the laptop simultaneously while someone was using it. Obviously, with this project being a skateboard, the motor is going to be pulling way more than the solar cells can keep up with, but it’s more about adding that extra little range, or being able to regain a mile or two while you at lunch before skating home.

I’m also going to test charging the board with the side panels folded out- this would be without a rider, and just the skateboard laying in the sun locked to a bike rack, or maybe leaning against your table while you eat lunch. The idea being you go to do X errand, and maybe you can gain back a couple miles back in the process just by letting your board sunbathe. Yes, you probably don’t want to just leave your board sitting somewhere with solar panels spread wide and unattended, but this is more for things where you can still keep in eye on your board in the process; or at least know it’s safe and locked up.

I didn’t consider the flexible cells or windshield idea, but they are definitely plausible- like I said, I want to make multiple distinctly different prototypes, so I am really open to anything. Since the whole science fair thing is optional this year (10th grade), I am basically just doing this for fun, and getting a little something out of it as a bonus. I’ve always liked this idea, but without deadlines, I feel like I’d never actually complete the project to the best of my abilities…Just like the saying “It’s not work if you love what you do!”

Another idea that keeps things real simple is to do a solar trailer that you can tow behind the board, this way you don’t have to add anything to an already heavy electric longboard, and you can choose not to take it with you when you don’t need it. Also you would not have to worry so much about the panel not getting charged in some areas because of you standing directly on top of it. A trailer would also allow you to store more panels that fold out for when you are stopped and want to charge faster. You could also make the panels moveable so you can strap luggage to the trailer and put the panels on top of the luggage. To me this would be the most functional since solar panels would come in real hand for those long distance excursions where bringing along a trailer would make sense. This would also allow you to carry an extra space cell with you that you can swap out on the go, and while you are using the fresh one the dead one could be charging on the trailer while you ride.

LOL, the more I think about this the more it makes me want to build this!


the panels and new batteries are ordered! so stoked!!! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

can’t wait to make this project a reality

edit: also changed to lipo batteries for their size, and ability to get charge details easier…


Looking forward to seeing it!

LIPO :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

shame on you

Lipos arent as bad as you make out. I have been running 8 different lipo packs heavily for a year now with no events.

Nice @cmatson ! Are you planning to use the design you published above, or have things changed since then?

i still have a 10ah 6S pack i bought 14 months ago. Charge time and run time are still hanging in there just fine. I’m still getting 8-12 miles out of it depending on what kind of mood i’m in and i ride a few times during the week and often multiple times per day on the weekends.

some things have changed- the panels I’m using are twice the width of the original squares, so they will look like horizontal rows going up the board- everything else is pretty much the same.

Haha I am using lipo’s because I can get a small pack for testing, plus, it’s easier to measure how many milli amp hours have been put into the pack with a balance charger. I chose two 40c 1800mah 6s packs for the testing, just because I don’t want to be doing a bunch of 8-9 mile tests like I would with a 5,000mah lipo.

I am actually putting two batteries on the board- one being charged by the solar panels, and one being used to power the board. Then, I can tell the MAH gained vs. the MAH used very easily. I will also do tests with just the board charging in the sun, to see how long it takes (on average) for my 1800mah lipo to charge.

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Big Update!

The majority of my supplies are here, and I hope to be building it this weekend! Here’s what I’ve gotten: 2x zippy 1800mah 6s lipo’s turnigy sk3 6364 245kv 16 solar cells giant piece of wood that will become my deck once I route out a place for the solar cells (not pictures below, because I simply forgot to snap a pic, and now it is buried in my garage)

what I still need (recommendations wanted!!!) -plexiglass top sheet that I will stand on- this will allow sunlight to pass through when I want to solar charge the board- it will be kinda like those jelly skateboards… Plus, I can always make support columns between the cells to help distribute my weight, and keep the plexiglass from just bowing/breaking in the middle. -lipo alarm (on it’s way) heat shrink tubing and X gauge wiring for the cells (what do you guys think would be the best size? they are just charging at 12volts and low wattage)

now finally here are those pics:

the solar cells are really nice, and worth the extra $$$. I spent just under 100 dollars for the 16. here is a link to this “style” solar cell (these are smaller 2v ones because I couldn’t find the 3v ones in a quick search, but I promise they are out there…):2v tiny/weak solar cells- same type though

the 3v ones I have are 3v 1.5-3w I believe… maybe slightly more watts, but I can’t remember exactly. With 16 I will put 12 on the main part of the deck, and 4 on my foldout contraption… so it will basically be 4s4p total: 12volts, and anywhere from 6-12ish watts.

any input/critic is much appreciated!


how are you charging the batteries with the solar panels?

the panels are being wired together into a standard lipo balance charger, and I am going to charge one of the two batteries. they will both be on the board at the same time, but I will be able to tell the MAH used vs. MAH charged because each variable is being done with it’s own battery.

so one battery is powering the board, while the other is being charged-

My original plan was to use the space cell, but it would just be too difficult to try to figure out how much of a difference the panels are making with some hard stats like I’ll be able to achieve with the balance charger.

I was thinking 14 gauge wire to solder the panels together… do you guys think that will be too small/too large?

I’ve basically only used 10 gauge for eboard applications, but with this being charging (and charging leads are usually a lot smaller; not to mention with the output of the solar panels these wires don’t need to be that strong…) I was wondering what gauge I should go for.

what is the minimum watts the lipo balance charger needs for charging… is there a minimum?

I don’t think so- it is specific about a minimum voltage, but not watts. I have looked at multiple other chargers too.