Throughout this year of 2020 with all of its highs and lows, companies have had to change many things and shift into new directions. However, two things have not changed – the need for companies to lower costs, and the desire for innovative and more efficient energy sources. The energy sources incorporated and used in commercial vehicles to varying degrees of success and acceptance have included propane, natural gas (CNG and LNG), ethanol (E85), and of course the one that is leading the pack today – electricity.
But what about Solar energy? Can Solar power, in all of its natural abundance, play a part in powering commercial vehicles?
The short answer is an enthusiastic Yes – but not quite in the same way as its other energy counterparts.
Solar technology needs a fairly large footprint to harness enough energy to power a commercial van engine – far too large to actually fit on a vehicle. However, commercial vehicles can be fit with solar panels which are much smaller, yet large enough to run vehicle accessories like air conditioning, or with an inverter to charge devices like power tools, phones and other electronic devices.
This application can be an ideal solution for certain industries like construction, trades, transportation, road crews, insurance adjusters, and hospitality which keep vehicles idling for up to several hours at a time. The solar power would allow these industries to continue operating the accessories which today require the engine to be running – things like electronic road signs, charging cordless tool batteries, and of course air conditioning.
Driverge Vehicle Innovations has partnered with Merlin Solar, a national leader in solar technology, to offer exclusive and patented solar power solutions to commercial vehicle customers.
The interconnect system available on the Ford Transit and Ford F-Series pickups have the following features and benefits:

Significantly extends battery life
Jump start avoidance, especially with unattended vehicles during Covid19
Minimizes idling which reduces engine wear & tear, fuel consumption and emissions
Specialty charging applications
Lightweight and aerodynamic solution which will not affect MPG
Powers electronics and charges tools

Additional Features:
Power inverter supplies up to 3,000 watts
Capable of running AC system (with auxiliary compressor)
Available on multiple vehicle models
Advanced thin-film profile is lightweight, yet 50X more durable than residential panels
Mounted on top of the vehicle and out of the way
5-year system warranty
While solar power in this application will not affect fuel economy when driving, it will definitely reduce consumption during the hours vehicles normally would be idling. Add in the many additional benefits to lessen costs and significantly extend battery and engine component life, and your customers can be looking at attractive bottom line savings.