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Name: Luke
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

How does light affect the speed of a solar powered car?


Light is a source of energy for solar-powered cars. Solar panels convert the incident light into electricity and this electricity drives the motor that moves the car.

The brighter the incident light on the solar panel, the higher is the electric power (power = energy per unit time) generated.

The speed of a car depends the construction of the car, the motor used, transmisson/gearing used, and the available power to run the motor. Everything else being equal, a doubling of the intensity of the incident light will roughly double the electricity produced, and this will increase the speed of a car, but by less than 100%, primarily because of disproportional increase in air drag on the car.


Ali Khounsary, Ph.D.
Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory

Luke: solar panels absorb light energy and the car turns it into usable energy. The make of the panels will determine how much energy can be stored, thus how fast the car can go. I suggest using the internet, with the keyword 'solar panels' and see what you find. You may also try 'solar powered cars'.

Katie Page

Light carries energy. We can feel this energy as heat. Sunburn is an example of what this energy can do when it builds up in one place. A solar-powered car has "solar panels" that can convert the energy within the sunlight into electrical energy. This electrical energy can then be used to power an electric motor within a car. The sunlight is the fuel of a solar-powered car.


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