Range Anxiety? Build a Solar Panel Trailer for Your Tesla Model 3

It’s far from practical, but still not the worst idea ever.

byChris Teague|
Electric Vehicles photo

Electric vehicles have struggled to break into the mainstream for a few reasons, many of which have to do with charging times and the availability of electric fill-up stations. YouTuber ItsYeBoi has come up with some unconventional methods to get around those challenges, most recently by building a trailer with solar panels attached to it that can charge his Tesla Model 3 while in motion. His most recent video shows that unconventional thinking can yield some impressive, if impractical, results.

ItsYeBoi, known in real life as Sean Callaghan, has been down this road before. In a previous video, he used a windmill to charge his car and even made coffee with a Keurig using wind power, so his idea to build a solar charging trailer doesn't sound out of character at all. 

If you can get past all of the goofy YouTube shenanigans, the build is quite impressive. Callaghan used the online shopping site Wish to buy a load of cheap solar panels and all of the hardware needed to make them work. He attached all of that gear to a $2,500 trailer and pulled it to a nearby parking lot for testing, stopping to make a cup of solar coffee and charge his phone with the rig first.

Callaghan says the setup will charge the Tesla in about 40 hours, which is naturally far slower than the company's own Superchargers but close to the times that can be achieved using Level 1 charging at home. But as cool as all of that is, the build raises some questions

The weight of the trailer and aerodynamic penalties associated with towing it are likely to overcome any charging benefits, and even if the car could pull the trailer easily, the solar setup is just too weak to keep up with driving for long stints or at highway speeds. Then there's the issue of the homemade trailer hitch, which Callaghan is understandably hesitant to use anywhere other than an empty parking lot. If he were going for a permanent setup, several companies make actual tow hitches for the car, so that would have to be a consideration before trying to use the trailer anywhere outside of a controlled environment. 

We'll just give the guy credit for building something that works.

In true YouTube fashion, Callaghan says that if he can get 100,000 likes on the video, he'll actually cover the Model 3 with solar panels instead of towing them behind the car. That's worth a click on its own, regardless of how you feel about the channel itself.

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