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Solar Pannel Charging Lipo battery in flight

#1
Hey Guys,

Our Company use a DJI F550 for our business aerial applications, we use a 5200mAh lipo with the standard 8045 props. It a push we can get 15 minuets of flight time but we normal fly for around 10 - 12 minuets to save the battery.

We are wondering if its possible to fit a solar cell/pannel (small one) to the frame and be able to charge the battery whilst its being used to improve flight time even if its only 5 minuets.

any thought on this?

Cheers
G Aviation
 

c172ae

Pro plane crasher
#2
It would work in theory, but in practice, It may actually shorten the flight time due to extra weight. I would try to get some bigger props (be careful on giving full throttle), or try to remove any unnecessary weight.
 

CrashRecovery

I'm a care bear...Really?
Mentor
#3
Weight is the demise of any battery. If you can remove as much weight as you can you will get more flight time, not much but some. Using the solar to charge the battery, like said above in theory yes but I think the equipment to make the charging system will cancel out any weight you have removed and make it heavier.
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
Moderator
Mentor
#4
There are a handful of successful power-glider flights using solar cells to dramatically extend the flght, but those are on exceptionally efficient airframes with very low power draw. They also take advantage of the airframe's large wing area for the solar farm, something not available to even large multirotors.

keep in mind, rotor craft by their very nature are brute-force airframes. So even the most efficient multirotor setups (there are a few that have amazing flight times) are grossly inefficient compared to some of the optomized fixed wing airframes. To answer your question directly, no. Surface vs. current generated would make it a negligable contribution, well less than it's added weight. It simply won't be viable until the solar cell technology improves it's efficency to provide sufficent current to overcome it's own weight penalty.
 

stay-fun

Helicopter addict
#5
There are a handful of successful power-glider flights using solar cells to dramatically extend the flght, but those are on exceptionally efficient airframes with very low power draw. They also take advantage of the airframe's large wing area for the solar farm, something not available to even large multirotors.

keep in mind, rotor craft by their very nature are brute-force airframes. So even the most efficient multirotor setups (there are a few that have amazing flight times) are grossly inefficient compared to some of the optomized fixed wing airframes. To answer your question directly, no. Surface vs. current generated would make it a negligable contribution, well less than it's added weight. It simply won't be viable until the solar cell technology improves it's efficency to provide sufficent current to overcome it's own weight penalty.
I'd like to add that even a 100% efficient solar cell (which is impossible) won't be able to do it. The problem is that the sun simply isn't radiating enough energy onto a small surface like that.
Like Craftydan says, it's only possible on extremely (aerodynamically) efficient power-gliders.
 

vk2dxn

Senior Member
#6
Hey Guys,

Our Company use a DJI F550 for our business aerial applications, we use a 5200mAh lipo with the standard 8045 props. It a push we can get 15 minuets of flight time but we normal fly for around 10 - 12 minuets to save the battery.

We are wondering if its possible to fit a solar cell/pannel (small one) to the frame and be able to charge the battery whilst its being used to improve flight time even if its only 5 minuets.

any thought on this?

Cheers
G Aviation
The solar cell must supply the current capacity of the quad and also a bit extra to even be able to charge the cells. I'm guessing a DJI would draw something like 20-30 amp at hover? That would be one monster of a solar cell