Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Solar Power Replacement
Name: Chad J.
Status: Educator
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: November 2002

A student of mine wants to replace a battery source in her remote controlled truck with ONLY solar energy. The battery pack is at 9.6V running at about 1A. Can she take multiple solar modules (already put together) that equal the sum of the battery source (9V and 1A) and connect those to the truck and have it run?

Your present battery energy source is 9.6 watts (voltage x current). You would have to check the power rating of any alternative energy source, e.g. solar cells, to see if they can provide that power. My instincts tell me that 9.6 watts is pretty large, but I am not sure.

Vince Calder


Tim Mooney

I would be very careful with this project. The battery has other properties than providing 1A at 9.6 V (not 12V?). It is a relatively stable source of voltage. With all the computing installed in cars these days, I would worry about sudden jumps in voltage. Also starting a car takes a LOT more current than running it, hundreds of amperes on a cold winter morning. In fact, I would expect a running car uses considerable more than 1A with the radio, fans, seat heater, and rear window defroster all going.

You could, however, use solar cells to recharge the battery. This would save the gas needed to power the generator when it is under load generating power to run the car and recharge the battery. It might even be possible to remove the generator belt and rely entirely on the solar cells for recharging the battery. I would be careful, though.

Best, Dick Plano

Click here to return to the Engineering Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory