Hybrids & Electrics

Chevy Bolt Is 100% Solar Charged

Looking as strange as one would expect, one guy outside of Ottawa, Canada, built himself a solar recharging system so he never has to plug in again. Daniel McGuire was cruising around in his Chevy Bolt when he decided he needed to make the car completely self-sustainable according to cleantechnica.com.

First Try

Looking at cell phone, laptop and 12 volt battery chargers, he wanted to use their ideas and technology in a larger form to see if it would work for recharging his Bolt. Checking out systems at a local electrical supply house, he estimated the cost to be over $30,000. That kind of money will pay for a lot of electricity bills.

Going back to the drawing board, literally, he sketched up a system that  he thought would work better and cheaper than what he had seen. He started with just flexible panels mounted all over the upper surfaces of his car. He added more panels as time and money allowed until he reached the point he’s at in the images you see here.

The System

Currently the car produces 2,200 watts of 23% SunPower solar cells. There is an additional panel hiding under the rooftop panel that slides out when the car is parked. A second panel can be attached over the drivers window for the system to reach optimum capacity. 

For the side not facing the sun he’s also attached mirrors that can angle the sun’s rays to the unexposed panels. 


How this all works is a 300Ah, 12-volt battery gets pre-charged by his system. This powers a 2,000 watt inverter. An inverter is an electrical converter that changes the solar panel’s DC current into a frequency alternating AC current. 

The car can be charged while in motion or parked. When the car needs to be charged up Daniel can plug a 1,450 watt EVSE, or charging controller, into the inverter to send power to the battery at eight amps.

Eight amps is not huge charging capability, but since it can be charging any time the sun is out the system will charge for most of the day. 

The panels that run the length of the car and beyond the rear are attached to lightweight aluminum rails for extra rigidity during higher speeds. Daniel has run his Bolt with this system a bit over 80 mph without anything breaking or falling off. 

Goal: 100% Electricity Free

Now between his 100% solar-powered house and car he is well on his way to living his life 100% electricity free. The whole Bolt solar conversion took him a year and a half, along with $20,000 worth of materials.


Now he’s adapting what he learned from his first solar car conversion into a business doing the same for others wanting to cut the electric company cord and go completely solar free. He thinks larger companies could make this a multi-million dollar business converting EVs to solar charging, or supplying DIYers with solar panel racks and systems. 

While all of the panels tacked onto the body of his Bolt look funky, we could imagine solar panels made to look like sheet metal body panels. In this fashion the whole body would act as one big solar panel. With trays and auxiliary panels able to be slid out or attached when the car is parked, you could create a large expanse of panels to charge your car’s solar system.