Keeping vehicles charged and at the ready can be a continuing challenge for law enforcement and other fleet vehicle managers, whose cars, ambulances and trucks are equipped with numerous electronics such as lights, radios and computers. When these vehicles are turned off, the amp demand of on-board electronics can eventually drain batteries to the point where the vehicles will not be able to start.
The new Streamlight SolarStream™ is a supplemental solar charging panel designed to help compensate for the natural discharge and parasitic drains on a vehicle’s battery. A thin-film amorphous silicon charging panel, the Streamlight SolarStream securely adheres to a vehicle’s roof or other contoured surfaces, and allows for 14 watts per hour of maximum power in full sunlight.
The new charging system works by dispensing up to one amp of current to the vehicle’s battery, preventing it from draining completely and reducing the need for jump-starts and frequent battery replacement. The Streamlight SolarStream maintains a trickle charge to the vehicle battery even in low sun and cloudy conditions, and is both heat and shade tolerant.
Designed to directly wire to a vehicle’s battery, the Streamlight panel is packaged with a fuse holder and fuse, which protects the vehicle if the included cord is damaged. The 20-foot 18AWG cord allows for a variety of installation conditions.
The Streamlight SolarStream measures 40.9 inches long by 13.1 inches wide, and weighs 1.3 pounds. The product’s encapsulated amorphous silicon technology offers exceptional durability and weather resistance. The product has undergone extensive police vehicle testing, and is tested for wind resistance up to 120 miles per hour.
While there are other solar supplemental charging systems on the market, they are different from the Streamlight SolarStream because they are typically made from thicker, more rigid crystalline silicon, and require placement in the back of a vehicle behind tinted windows. This placement restricts them from receiving full sun, which is vital because a crystalline solar panel’s output can be reduced if even a single cell in the panel is covered by shadows.
The Streamlight panel is easy to mount. It should be placed on the roof of the vehicle to avoid possible damage. It is recommended that two people install the panel. For new vehicle installations, route the product’s wire through the roof’s lightbar hole, down the A-pillar closest to the vehicle battery, and through the firewall.
For retrofit vehicle installations, you can consider lifting the weather stripping from the rear door opening to route the wire to the inside of the vehicle and through the firewall. Prepare the vehicle surface by thoroughly cleaning the area where the panel will be installed. Apply automobile wax to the area. This will reduce chances of damage to the painted surface if the panel needs to be removed. The panel is meant for permanent attachment and will be damaged if removed.
Position the Streamlight SolarStream panel on the vehicle. While one person holds the panel in place, the other person should lift the end with the wire and remove the adhesive backing, working toward the center of the panel.
Roll the backing under the panel and carefully place the wire end of the panel onto the vehicle surface. With one person lifting the other end of the panel, slowly remove the backing and further secure the panel onto the surface. Work from the center to the sides to avoid air pockets. Continue until all the backing is removed and the panel is secured to the surface.
The Streamlight SolarStream comes with a five-year limited warranty and has an MSRP of $400.
Tim Taylor is the Director of Sales - Law Enforcement with Streamlight, Inc.