By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Imagine driving your motorhome across the country. You never stop for fuel. You don’t buy propane, gasoline, or diesel. Your rig doesn’t pollute the atmosphere. For a group of European students from the Netherlands-based Eindhoven University of Technology, they’re not just imagining it, they’re doing it. Is this your future as an RVer – a completely solar-powered motorhome?
They call it Stella Vita, “Life Star.” Designed by a group that calls itself Solar Team Eindhoven, Stella Vita is putting a whole new spin on the thought of RV self-containment. It’s probably unlike any motorhome you’ve ever seen. The differences start right at the top. When underway, the rig’s roof is a large solar panel field, 94 square feet of panels. But when in camp, the roof pops up, and allows for more panels to extend out, increasing the sun-catching area to 188 square feet.
What can you do with 188 square feet of solar collection surface? The living quarters features electric living. Cooking and entertainment systems are all solar powered. In fact, with their emphasis on earth-friendliness, the designers have built in displays that indicate how much power is going where. That, they hope, will help users to think in energy-conserving terms in their own solar-powered motorhome.
Solar provides the driving force
But that power isn’t just used for creature comforts. The team says those solar panels also provide the drive – a solar-powered motorhome with no need for external fuel. How far can you drive? Solar Team Eindhoven takes off today for a trip through Europe. If their estimates hold true, Stella Vita will quietly motor its way to the southern tip of Spain, running up to 450 miles per day when Sol is good.
Stella Vita is obviously a light vehicle. And it’s a bit lighter on space than the average RVer is used to. The interior space for living is limited to just about six-and-a-half feet. But the space is “livable” for two, say the designers. The diminutive rig still offers a galley, sleeping space (with a bed), sofa, toilet and table.
On a sunny day, the camper will be able to travel up to 453 miles. But it will take two to three days for it to fully recharge, depending on the weather.
We need to know more!
Actual specifications about Stella Vita are a bit hard to come by. We’d love to know the rig’s weight, battery storage capacity, and details on other important matters like fresh water supply, and more on that all-important bathroom information. We’ll work to get more information and fill you in.
Nevertheless, if this clever team can prove up Stella Vista now, imagine what the future might hold for other solar-powered motorhomes.
Photos by Bart van Overbeeke