E-Z-Go has just announced that they are to offer golf cart solar panel charging on several of their cart models. The solar panels are provided by PowerFilm, Inc and are a thin, flexible panel type that has been specially engineered for E-Z-Go carts.
We're a fan of golf cart solar panels as they offer a lot of long term benefits for a relatively small initial outlay. As we predicted last year it's not been long before a major cart manufacturer has started to offer solar charging on its models.
E-Z-Go is offering this solar charging option on the E-Z-GO RXV® and TXT® electric fleet golf cars, and Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT electric cars. At the time of writing E-Z-Go have not announced any pricing for the solar panel option.
"E-Z-GO's partnership with PowerFilm aligns with our commitment to environmental excellence," said E-Z-GO's president Kevin Holleran. "We are proud to offer PowerFilm as a quality solar solution to our dealers and customers seeking greener, more carbon-neutral options for powering their fleet and personal electric cars."
The PowerFilm Solar Panel is a lightweight, thin and completely flexible solar panel that can be stuck to any surface. For E-Z-Go they have specially designed a snap-top system which allows for easy installation without requiring cart canopy replacement or structural reinforcement. This makes it easy to retro-fit their solar panel to any golf cart and you can buy an aftermarket panel for your own cart direct from one of Powerfilm's authorized resellers around the country.
The main benefit of golf cart solar panels is that owners can reduce energy costs (charging costs) by as much as 20 percent annually, assuming there is a good deal of sunny weather where you live. From PowerFilm's own figures, in typical use a golf cart battery is discharged to twenty percent of capacity (80% discharge). In this usage, batteries will need replacement after 520 charge cycles or 1 3/8 years. With the use of a PowerFilm solar panel the depth of discharge is reduced to no lower than 65%. This extends battery lifetime to 730 charge cycles, a gain of almost 69%. In most cases, through typical cart use, the battery discharge will be in the 30-50%, equaling a gain of more than double in battery life.
This improved battery performance is due to the solar panel constantly charging the cart's battery when the vehicle is exposed to sunlight, and also decreasing the depth of discharge during normal use. Less discharge means longer drive time for the cart, increased driving range and extends the golf cart battery lifetime.
There are quite a few golf cart solar panel kits available from other panel manufacturers, some of which are the "thin film" type. But this is the first time a cart manufacturer has offered solar panels as a charging option for its electric golf carts. We foresee that the other main cart manufacturers will shortly follow.
Here's a short video showing Powerfilm's golf carts in action.