Golf Cart Solar shows off affordable panels

Golf Cart Solar is exhibiting at the PGA Merchandise Show and selling its golf car panels for $427 apiece.

Golf Cart Solar is exhibiting at the PGA Merchandise Show and selling its golf car panels for $427 apiece.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Holy cow, Batman, there’s a fleet of golf cars out here with solar panels on top.

Solar panels, which collect energy from the sun, can be spotted on rooftops in many cities. If the solar industry has its way, they will be stationed on top of golf carts at many golf courses.

Golf and solar are not total strangers. Solar panels have been in use for several years on a limited basis, the chief obstacle being the cost of the panels.

A golf cart needs just one panel on top. Typically the price per panel has hovered around $1,000. When it dropped to the $800 range, it was considered a victory for energy conservation.

Now a company out of Sarasota, Fla., called Golf Cart Solar is exhibiting here at the PGA Merchandise Show and selling its golf car panels for $427 apiece.

Considering that such a purchase qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit, this is widely viewed as a giant step in the emerging golf solar business.

Why would a course want solar panels on its carts?

Simple. Combined with the normal rechargeable batteries on the carts, solar panels can easily reduce electric bills for recharging by 20 to 30 percent. Furthermore, there is evidence that cart batteries last longer after sold panels are installed.

Golf car batteries can cost as much as $600 per cart, so battery life is an important consideration.

Golf Cart Solar will get a big boost in February when the Allianz Championship, a regular event on the Champions Tour, will showcase a fleet of carts with Golf Cart Solar panels on top. This was confirmed by general manager John Crean of the host Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla.

A panel is surprisingly small yet stable. It weighs just 4.4 pounds.

“This panel was designed for commercial buildings,” said Doug Fyvolent, one of the owners of Golf Cart Solar. “They usually last for 25 years or more. For golf, we figure the wear and tear will reduce that figure, but solar panels remain a cost effective way to move into the future in golf.”

Although Golf Cart Solar isn’t the only solar panel supplier in the golf business, but it is serving as a prominent example of what that future will look like.

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