• Jun 25, 2006
With temperatures reaching 160 degrees Fahrenheit and higher during summertime, car interiors can range from uncomfortably sweaty to downright lethal with 35 to 40 children perishing each year in parked cars. Mazda once sold a system in its 929 that used a solar-powered fan to draw out hot air from a car's interior while the vehicle was parked. That system, along with the car, has been discontinued.
Besides cooling interiors, such "fan systems" could help fuel efficiency since most drivers blast their air-conditioning after the car has been sitting under the sun for some time. A parked-car cooling system would lessen that need. Also, automakers would not need to build such powerful AC units, thereby reducing the parasitic load on the engine and lightening the vehicle overall, which in turn improves fuel-efficiency. The Society of Automotive Engineers is currently testing vehicles equipped with new solar-powered fans as well as heat-reflective glass and paint to measure the impact of interior heat on mileage.

[Source: Los Angeles Times via Detroit News]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Window tinting also makes a very noticable difference. Unfortunately, the laws vary and in some places tinting your driver/passenger windows is illegal.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Lexus has (had?) a nifty (yes, I realize that was Ron Howard's back in Mayberry) windshield screen that was easy to install and it sat in the A pillar folded up. You could pull it across to the other A pillar easily when you parked. It was neatly integrated and you found them on the LS430's!

      The Remote start feature is a plus nowadays for us Floridians,. but it would be better if the windows would also crack or open fully to let the 150 degree gasses inside escape so that the A/C didnt have to work so hard intially!

      If they had electronically-driven compressors, you could just cool the car instead of completely starting it. And every nearly every car has battery protection, so the system wouldnt allow itself to rob the battery of all of its power.

      And by adding solar-powered exhaust fans to the mix, a vehicle could stay at an optimum temperature and still use little or no battery power! The most expensive part of that whole matrix is the solar powered panels and the electronic motor for the compressor...everything else has already been implemented in todays technology. And manufactures can chose between an electronic compressor or solar panels and either one would benefit remote start and remote windows/sunroof! Or am I just someone living in a pipe dream?!
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is the second summer I've spent in Texas, and every day I'm more glad I checked the "Remote Starter" option box for my Maxx. Best $150 I've ever spent.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As far as the system goes, I know that sometime between 91-94 Audi made a concept roadster that had an ingenius system like this that cooled the car utilizing solar panels... The surprising part to it all is that Hybrid cars that have vent systems to cool bateries and electrical components don't have it to cool the car off in the sun. Strange because the consumers purcahsing those cars could easily be sold on more overpriced, semi-useful technology...
      • 8 Years Ago
      well my TL (and my old accord too) has the remote window/moonroof opening feature as well and it definitely helps to release all the hot humid air inside my car before i get in. so that's better than nothing i guess. unfortunately it doesn't cool my leather seats so i always end up burning my behind/back regardless :(
      • 8 Years Ago
      I was thinking about this the other day. Why don't more cars have features to keep them cool in the summer? In addition to a solar powered exhaust fan why not make more cars with a built in sun screen that covers the windshield when the car is off.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There used to be (might still be) a small solar powered fan that was designed to be wedged into a car window. It worked ok in the heat of a South Florida summer; though if rain wasnt so big a worry, leaving the windows cracked open would've done just as well. I'll try to find a link for this old fan.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Clar0n,

      That was my first thought too, but I think the 160 is in reference to the interior temperature of the car, not outside. It's not unusual in my native TX for interiors to hit 150+ on a 105 degree day (and on 105 degree days, the outside temperature on a blacktop parking lot can be sweltering 120).
      • 8 Years Ago
      I live in Phoenix AZ, so I know about this problem. There are several ways of reducing this problem.

      1. Make windows that block more heat. We have aftermarket tint that has just about no effect on visibility, but greatly reduces heat load. Look at adjusting regs to allow more heat blocking glass.

      2. Windshield design: modern cars have made the windshield more and more sloped for styling reasons, but this has made car interiors furnace like in hot climates. Look at the new Honda civic - they've made the summer heat problem much worse with that enormous windshield and dashboard - all for a styling gimick.

      3. Solar powered fans mentioned in article should not cost that much in mass production. I'd pay a few hundred for this option, I park outside at work my car gets hammered all summer.

      These would save energy also when driving and help reduce AC load while driving.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mercedes has also offered a solar-powered AC/blower system on certain models from time to time. Also, some models have a non-solar-powered blower that runs for a short period which is handy for short stops.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Adjusting the temperature of the AC does effect fuel consumption. If you draw all your air at the coolest setting, the evaporator will heat up sooner and the compressor will re-engage sooner.

      There are some new AC compressors that have variable pump volume and drive speed.

      How about linking the rain sensors with the sunroof. So when the car is parked the sunroof would be in the vent position and would close when the rain sensor detected rain, it would close.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This ios the kind of technology they need to incorporate into a system that would cool a car when its off:

      http://www.coolitsystems.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=84&Itemid=30

      If a USB port on your computer can supply enough juice to get this to 45degF, then I would think a built in rooftop solar cell could do quite a bit if this were scaled up to a car's scale.
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