Flexible Solar Panels on Bus Roofs Extend Battery Life, Reduce Road Service and Maintenance

eNow Inc. recently announced that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has completed testing and has deployed eNow solar systems on the roof tops of its new 2019 buses. Designed specifically for the transportation industry, eNow solar systems cut transit bus maintenance costs by extending battery life by two to three times – improving battery performance year-round, and reducing jump starts even in harsh winter temperatures. The new buses were manufactured by GILLIG Bus Manufacturing in California, who also installed the solar systems.

eNow’s advanced solar systems capture energy from the sun, then use smart battery-charging technology to manage the charging process – and maintain an optimal state-of-charge on the buses primary (starter) batteries year-round. This lowers battery replacement and labor costs, and reduces CO2 emissions from idling in order to charge batteries. The result is improved battery reliability when starting buses, especially in cold weather. Additionally, alternator life is extended because the solar system provides much of the charging power to the batteries, which reduces strain on the engine’s alternator.

“RIPTA is the first public transit system in the country to thoroughly test and add eNow’s advanced mobile solar systems to its fleet on a large scale,” said Jeff Flath, founder, president and CEO of eNow. “By introducing solar energy into public transit RIPTA is leading the way both environmentally and economically — addressing climate change and lowering costs.”

For RIPTA, maximizing battery life and performance will represent a savings estimated at more than $80,000 a year across their fleet of around 250 buses. Each new bus is equipped with two batteries, which cost about $365 each. Now RIPTA will need to replace batteries less frequently and will also save on costly road calls.

eNow solar systems are already being used across the trucking industry to help reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions on heavy-duty trucks. Many long-haul truck drivers previously idled their engines in order to power their tractors’ HVAC systems, driver-comfort appliances such as televisions and microwaves. Now they use electric APUs (auxiliary power units) charged by eNow solar systems to operate those devices. Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this saves drivers about a gallon of diesel fuel per hour during their mandatory 10-hour rest periods.

eNow is a private company, founded in Rhode Island in 2011. It was the first company of its kind to develop mobile solar systems for commercial transportation. It currently sells its products throughout North America. The company’s mission is to provide industry-specific solar solutions to companies that embrace people, planet and profitability.