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What is a Solar Golf Cart?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2016
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A solar golf cart is a type of vehicle often used at golf courses or for navigating self-contained areas such as planned communities and college campuses. Much like other golf carts, it is typically fairly small and provides comfortable seating for up to about four adults. The top speed of such a golf cart can vary quite a bit, though some can be considered “street legal” with a top speed that allows the cart to operate around other vehicles without obstructing traffic. A solar golf cart typically uses solar panels affixed atop the cart to provide power for the golf cart.

The term “golf cart” usually refers to a fairly small motor vehicle driven around golf courses and other enclosed areas. These vehicles are not typically utilized for street driving, though some can be legally driven on a street, and are usually intended for short-term transportation. They tend to be somewhat rectangular in shape, and a solar golf cart often has a basic frame that consists of seating and a roof supported by bars, with little other protection offered for passengers. While different models of solar golf cart can be designed to fit additional passengers, most carts comfortably seat two to four adults, either with internal front and back seats or rear-facing external back seats.

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One of the major features of a solar golf cart is that it is, at least partially, powered through solar energy. These carts typically have a solar panel on the top of the cart, allowing it to absorb and gain energy through solar radiation. Since a solar golf cart is often used in sunny conditions, as operation in the rain may not be recommended or preferred, this provides an excellent source of power for such carts. Many carts are designed with hybrid energy systems, that can utilize both solar power and energy produced through gasoline or electricity.

The top speed of a solar golf cart can vary, depending on its purpose and design. Many carts have a fairly low top speed, ensuring they can be safely operated on golf courses, college campuses, and other areas in which pedestrian traffic is common. A solar golf cart can be designed to be “street legal,” however, by ensuring it can reach top speeds that are well within those speeds commonly driven by vehicles in traffic. Such carts may not have the same safety options as motor vehicles, however, and extreme care should be taken by anyone operating solar golf carts at high speeds.

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Melonlity
Post 3

@Vincenzo -- That is why a lot of those are hybrid vehicles. The solar panel can power the cart and charge the thing, but a traditional battery or motor can take over when the power just isn't there.

Solar energy is still in its infancy in a lot of ways. As technology improves, we will see more solar powered golf carts and other things.

Vincenzo
Post 2

@Logicfest -- A problem with using solar panels to charge has to do with efficiency. Simply put, you would have to have a big, expensive panel that would charge as efficiently as traditional electricity and you would have to have a decent amount of sun to power the thing.

In addition to efficiency, think about convenience. It is common to plug in an electric golf cart at the end of the day, let the thing charge overnight and then hit the links the next day. You can't exactly do that if you are using solar power to charge a battery. The sun isn't out at night, after all.

Logicfest
Post 1

It would seem that golf carts would be perfect vehicles for solar power. Think about it. In an electric golf cart, those are generally charged until the battery is full and the cart runs off the battery for quite some time (at least an entire 18 holes and usually a lot more than that) before it is recharged.

If a solar panel can provide enough energy to charge a battery, then why not do it? If we are just charging a battery, then solar should work as well as regular electricity, shouldn't it?

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