The team at Purkeys is excited about solar power and the potential that it has in the commercial trucking industry. According to Purkeys CEO Justin Purkey, all the excitement is due to the industry’s move towards cleaner fuel sources, making solar energy the logical place to look. Justin stated, “If we can harness solar power to charge batteries, we definitely want to do it.” However, Purkeys does not want to overpromise and under deliver when it comes to solar technology. In August, they began researching solar technology to better understand the advantages and disadvantages in how it can be applied in the trucking industry.

One of Purkeys’ main concerns is the reliability of the technology. According to Purkeys Chief Creative Engineer Bruce Purkey, this is mainly related to how well solar panels operate under various conditions. Several practical questions must be answered:

  • What happens when skies are cloudy for two weeks straight?
  • Is the energy output of the solar panels different during the winter versus the summer?

According to their research, solar panels work well when adjusted to always face the sun at the optimum angle. For example, solar panels at a solar farm are positioned at specific angles for maximum efficiency, based on their particular longitude and latitude, during different seasons. Unfortunately, such adjustments will never be applicable on a truck because solar panels will be:

  • Fixed flat on the surface of the trailer or on the tractor’s wind deflector
  • In constant motion
  • Pointed in whatever direction the truck is headed rather than specifically toward the sun

Purkeys is working to gauge how much power a panel can emit based on a variety of conditions. They’re also conducting the experiment for an entire year to see how the seasons and length of the days will affect the panel’s output.

Based on their research, Purkeys estimates:

  • Solar technology produces almost 3 times more power during the summer than during winter
  • How much power a solar-based system generates over the course of a day

Purkeys continues to look for ways to integrate solar energy into their existing systems, but believes solar energy systems are not enough to replace current charging systems.

Justin admits that the technology is still waiting in the future. As he states, “It’s going to come. There’s going to be a breakthrough in the technology that is going to make this viable, and we want to be there.”