Flexible Solar Panels Being Used for Search and Rescue Vehicles

Sunflare has been placing solar panels on search and rescue vehicles and test ing the efficiency of the solar panels in a wilderness setting.

Search and rescue solar panels. Image from Sunflare
Search and rescue solar panels. Image from Sunflare

A technology provider in California known as Sunflare has made headlines recently due to the creation of their innovative solar panels and the flexibility their panels provide. Sunflare has been working closely with the King County Search and Rescue team in Bellevue, Washington this past year. Their primary mission has been to place solar panels on search and rescue vehicles and test the efficiency of the solar panels in a wilderness setting. Initial tests for the solar panels have been done using a former Swiss Army Pinzgauer vehicle. The electronics inside the interior of the vehicle will be powered using the solar panels, as well. Prior to the solar panels being used to power such vehicles, the electronics and vehicle itself were powered via gasoline. 

How the Panels Work 

Sunflare’s solar panels are flexible, light, thin, and precisely engineered to produce the best possible reliability and performance. The solar panels are known as copper gallium indium diselenide solar panels, or CIGS for short. These solar panels can be placed on different surfaces such as plastic, glass, steel and aluminum. Compared to traditional silicon solar cell panels, CIGS solar panels are more efficient.  

CIGS solar panels do not require the same maintenance or procedures that traditional solar panels do. There is no need to mount the solar panels or frame them and no glass or silicon purification processes are needed for the panels to work. Additionally, traditional silicon solar cells are made from grains melted down from high temperatures, whereas gallium is a by-product of mining other metals. 

Sunflare’s Mission in the Solar Energy Field 

Getting the CIGS solar technology perfected took over a decade. It was not until recently in the last two years that Sunflare was able to mass produce CIGS solar panels and offer this technology on a larger, commercial scale. For their search and rescue vehicles, Sunflare placed ten 12-cell panels on the rooftop within a stainless-steel frame. If the team were to have placed traditional solar panels to the rooftop of the vehicle, nearly 100 pounds of extra weight would be added. With Sunflare’s panels, however, the vehicle only carries an additional 22 pounds. According to Sunflares’s CEO, Phillip Gao, traditional silicon solar panels would not just add extra weight, they would not last long in the rugged terrain required to be searched by rescuers.  

Branden”Ben” Powell, a volunteer for King Country Search and Rescue and operator of one of Sunflare’s solar-powered vehicles, mentioned to Forbes.com this winter that having the vehicle has made his experiences much more positive. He remarked that the solar-powered vehicle is quieter and cleaner than other vehicles he has used in the past for rescue missions. He also stated that the vehicle adds new positivity to the work that he already does. Powell is thrilled to be able to help individuals and families return home safely and in the most efficient way possible. 

Luckily, most of those who go missing are found within 24-hours. Having a solar-powered vehicle this efficient may just enable rescuers to reach those who need it most even faster. The most common kinds of calls Powell receives for search and rescue missions include finding and assisting injured or lost hikers, finding missing children that may have wondered of, working with authorities to investigate crime scenes, and helping with aircraft crash recovery. 

Sunflare’s Other Innovative Projects 

In addition to their incredible and admirable work with Washington search and rescue teams, Sunflare has multiple goals in sight for how they plan to continue to excel in the solar realm. Their solar energy solutions are primarily targeted at helping businesses implement this kind of technology. Business owners who want to take advantage of CIGS solar technology have hired Sunflare to help them make the switch from traditional utility to solar technology. Sunflare has also worked with RV companies and recreational boat manufactures to use their solar energy technology for other kinds of transportation. Sunflare also has covered parking solutions where they can place their solar panels on existing covered parking structures. Many businesses are opting for covered parking solar panel installations due to the money and space it saves. 

To find out more about Sunflare visit their website here: https://www.sunflaresolar.com/ 






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