Nowadays, there are more and more people who own a car. Even better than that, more and more people own an electric car, which is excellent for the environment. Electric cars don’t emit exhaust fumes like other cars do. Using solar panels to charge your electric car would be great. But is it possible to use solar panels as an EV charger?
You can use solar panels to charge electric cars the same way you would supply energy for other appliances. The great thing is that even a small solar panel array with only 10 solar panels can provide enough power to charge your car’s battery.
When you install solar panels, you can power your home as well as charge your electric car for emissions-free transport. The cost of solar is also falling rapidly, which is great news for anyone who owns or wants to buy a new electric car.
What Are The Benefits Of Having An Electric Vehicle?
As previously mentioned, installing a solar energy system in your home can both power your home and charge your electric car. This is a great thing when it comes to emission-free transportation. This way you can save valuable money that you would spend on gasoline, and save the environment, of course!
Another positive thing worth mentioning is that companies like Tesla and Nissan are manufacturing electric cars for your daily use. These companies are working hard to manufacture these high-quality electric cars that have become so popular in today’s society. The benefits of having an electric car are saving money on gasoline and reducing emissions while driving, which are both wins for the environment. However, electric cars are more expensive, which is why some people still buy regular cars.
Solar panels and electric cars are a match made in heaven, but there could be problems for some people. As previously mentioned, there are more and more electric cars being manufactured every day. However, these are still quite costly, which is why some people can’t afford them.
You will be needing a solar system large enough to power both your home and your electric car. The ability to install that big of a solar panel is definitely an option within reach. This is because most homeowners still can’t afford to both install a solar system and buy an electric car. However, the good news is that it’s easy to install a solar energy system for your home if you take a few factors into consideration.
Can You Use Solar Panels For An Electric Vehicle?
If you’re asking yourself if can you use solar panels to charge your new electric car, the answer is yes! A solar installation will charge your new electric car in the same way that it will supply energy for the rest of your home appliances. Even a small solar panel array with only 10 solar panels can provide enough power to charge your car’s battery.
Some may also ask, “why are there no electric cars that have their own solar panel system on their roof?” Well, there are a few reasons for it. Engineers have actually been working on the idea of putting an extrasolar energy system on electric cars for years.
But, the main problem is that solar panels sized for the top of cars are not sufficiently powerful, efficient, or large enough to actually power the electric car.
Which Companies Are Advancing Towards Cleaner Electric Vehicles?
One more important thing worth mentioning is that cost has been prohibitive for commercial viability.
However, there are companies like Ford that have come to a lot closer to making this project a reality. Ford has unveiled a new car concept at an annual international technology convention that is actually powered by portable solar panels on the roof of their C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric car.
Nowadays, solar cells are way more efficient than they were just a few years ago. Ford has taken advantage of this by making the concept of an electric vehicle with a solar concentrator array that multiplies solar energy by eight times.
The great thing about electric vehicles is that they are cleaner to drive than conventional vehicles. When taking into account the pollution from the electricity used to power them, electric vehicles fueled by solar power are even cleaner.
With that being said, there are still some complications that Ford needs to overcome. Ford’s concept electric vehicle model needs to move several feet autonomously while charging in order to best capture the sun’s rays. However, their engineers are quite optimistic. They claim that Ford will work out the engineering challenges and prove that there is a viable business case for these types of EVs in the near future.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need To Charge An EV?
If you’re asking yourself how many solar panels you need to charge an EV, you need to know how much electricity your new electric car will use. The first step is knowing your electric car’s mileage rating. This information can help you quantify the amount that you’re saving by switching to an electric car.
To know exactly how many solar panels you’ll need to charge an EV depends on a lot of things. Some factors to consider are what type of electric car you own and where you live.
Depending on where you live, you will need about 7 or 9 solar panels to charge your new electric vehicle. Again, this information is based on the assumption that you drive the same amount per year as average people. If you drive less than 1000 miles per month, you’ll need fewer solar panels to power your new electric car.
It’s worth mentioning that since electric cars don’t use gasoline, the EPA rates them based on how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) it takes for the electric car to drive 100 miles. This is later converted to ”miles-per-gallon equivalent” (MPGe). Luckily, there are websites that can help you find and compare the kWh/100 miles and MPGe ratings for all of the electric cars on the market.
How Do I Calculate How Many Solar Panels I’ll Need For My Electric Vehicle (EV)?
So solar panels can be used to charge your EV. But now you need to figure out how much solar you need.
Calculating how much extra solar electricity needed to charge your new electric car is easy. All you need to know is the EPA’s economy rating for your chosen vehicle.
The Nissan Leaf, for example, is an all-electric car that has a combined fuel economy rating of 30 kWh/100 miles. If you purchase this car, it will require 30 kWh of electricity to drive 100 miles.
That means that you’re using approximately 7.5 kWh of electricity per day. This equates to just over 2,700 kWh of electricity per year, if you drive 25 miles on an average day. This is the amount of electricity your solar energy system will need to produce in order to charge your new electric car.
Once you know all this information, the rest of the process is easy. A solar installer can help to design a solar panel system that will generate sufficient power to cover both your home and your new electric car. Another thing needed to charge your new electric car is an electric car charger, such as a Siemens VC30GRYU Versicharge.
Another Way To Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need To Charge Your EV
There is another way to find out how much solar energy you’ll need to charge your electric vehicle. You’ll have to consider the amount of electricity required to fully charge your car. This way of thinking is similar to the way we think about gasoline. Knowing how much it will cost to fill up a tank of gas on conventional cars is useful here.
The amount of electricity required to fill the tank of your new electric vehicle is equivalent to the size of its battery. In general, electric car batteries can store between 25 and 100 kWh. This variation is mainly driven by the range that your car can cover on a single charge. For example, there is the Tesla Powerwall 2 that often stores around 10 to 15 kWh of electricity.
You will also need to size a charge controller for your solar panels. This device will help regulate the electricity powering your EV battery and solar system battery. You may be asking “do I need a battery for your solar panels?” if you are charging a an EV battery. The short answer is yes. It will help you charge even when you aren’t generating power, like at night.
How Can You Charge Your EV With Solar Panels?
Charging your EV with solar panels is easy and can be done in just a few simple steps.
1. You need to install an inverter that can handle more power
It’s worth mentioning that the default option for inverters is known as a string inverter. By using string inverters, you’ll get multiple solar panels arranged into strings. These strings feed the power they produce into a single inverter.
Usually, solar installers will include an inverter. However, these inverters will only handle the expected output of your solar panels, but nothing more than that.
If you find out how many more panels you’ll need to add to your system, you can install another inverter. You should install one that can handle the capacity of your existing panels along with the new ones you plan to add.
There are some inverters with integrated EV chargers. These save you the cost of buying a separate EV charger, hiring a licensed electrician, and required installation materials. This can help you save at least $1,600.
2. You’ll need to install microinverters with your solar system
For some people, installing micro-inverters instead of the default string inverter can be a better idea. By doing so, each of your solar panels will have its own inverter. With these inverters, you can easily add extra solar panels to your existing panels. Micro-inverters alleviate worry about whether your inverter can handle the additional electricity.
3. You can install a second, smaller solar energy system
This option is for anyone who has that extra space on their roof. You can add a second-panel system to your home whenever you need it. What’s great about it is that homeowners can claim federal tax credit for installing a solar system for their home. You can also do this more than once, which enables you to significantly save on your purchase.
Think about your future use, and build a bigger solar panel system to match.
If you’re planning to buy yourself a new electric car but you know that your electricity use will increase in the next year or so, you can build your solar energy system based on your future electricity use. It is important that you talk with your solar installer about your options beforehand because upgrading isn’t always an option. Some utilities won’t approve systems that go significantly beyond your historical electricity use.
It would be a great idea to ”make room” later down the line by including energy efficiency upgrades to your home, which has the added benefit of reducing the overall energy cost of your household. This means you can consider switching out light bulbs or installing a programmable thermostat. You can also upgrade your appliances to free up some of the electricity your solar panels will generate for future use in your new electric car.
It’s also worth mentioning that these upgrades also work for any other additions you make to your house. You can also expand your solar energy system to take your future electricity to use into account. This is useful if you’re considering adding an electric heat pump system or an electric water heater, for example.
Using Solar Panels To Charge Your EV
A great way to charge your new electric vehicle is to schedule fast charging during the cheapest time of use. There are some inverters that allow you to schedule charging times for your vehicle via an app on your smartphone. You can schedule the charging for later at night when rates are more affordable, and you’ll get the most value from the surplus of solar energy you got during the day.
The best route to using solar panels for your electric vehicle is to seek professional advice from a solar consultant. While you’re saving your money and the environment with your new electric vehicle, you’ll want to get the best out of it. Do your research to get all the information you need to get the best value.
Further Considerations For Using Solar Panels To Charge Your EV
Before designing your solar solution, you should take in account the location of the following components:
- Solar panels. They will need to be close to your garage to save on installation costs. But they will also need to face the south to maximize the amount of sun it will receive.
- Charge controller. This device helps regulate the electricity that is generated by the solar panel going into the batteries. Batteries charge differently depending on how charged they already are. For example, when they are fully charged, the charge controller will trickle charge the batteries.
- EV charger. This should be installed in a weather protected environment. This is often your garage. However, there are robust electric vehicle chargers that are designed to be installed outside. Just try to keep it close to the charge controller.
How To Care For Your Solar Panels and EV Chargers
The good news is solar panels are designed to withstand all sorts of tough weather conditions. The solar panels can get wet and still work. They work well in extremely hot climates. And solar panels work in the winter or extreme cold climates, as well.
Even though they hold up well in all climates, you should prepare a routine maintenance plan for your solar panels. This would include:
- Regular visual inspections to make sure there is no damage from tree branches or hail storms.
- Routine cleaning to ensure there is nothing obstructing the solar panels from direct sunlight. This includes leaves, branches, or nests.
- Annual structural inspections to make sure the solar panel mounting system is functioning properly.
- Annual battery inspections to check the capacity levels of the battery.