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Can You Use Solar Panels to Charge an Electric Car?

Reducing our carbon footprint as individuals is becoming more important than ever to reduce the overall impact of global climate change.

One of the biggest and most impactful changes we can make is to switch our vehicle to a hybrid or electric model.

As electric cars, unlike a regular car, don’t produce any emissions from a gas-guzzling engine or exhaust, they’re often referred to as zero-emissions vehicles.

While the idea of a vehicle being net-zero is undoubtedly one of the biggest selling points of an electric car, many charging stations still rely on energy from the National Grid, which uses fossil fuels to generate power.

There have been great strides taken to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels to power the nation, with 2020 seeing coal use account for just 1.6% of the power mix for the National Grid, a reduction of almost 25% from five years prior.

However, we still have a long way to go to achieve the government’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and one of the ways to do this is to use renewable energy sources to charge your electric car.

Whether you already own a solar system and want to invest in an at-home charger for your electric vehicle, or you’re curious about greener energy sources for your home, our guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Can you use solar panels to charge an electric car?

In short, the answer is yes, solar panels can charge an electric car. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity that can be used to power not only the appliances in your home but also your electric car. 

It’s important to note that solar panels only generate energy during daylight hours, and any energy generated by a solar system must be used immediately, sent to the National Grid or stored in a battery.  

While this may not seem like an issue, when considering using solar energy to charge your electric vehicle (EV) you may need to take into account the amount of time your car needs to charge to capacity, and when it is parked at home the most.

For example, if you have work until the evening, you may only get two hours to charge your EV each night and even less in winter. To combat this, you may need to purchase a solar battery. 

A solar battery can benefit you by storing any excess energy created by your solar panels during the day, and allowing you to use the stored energy when you need it. e.g. to charge your electric vehicle overnight.

Charging an electric car

If you already own an EV, you’ll know there are many public charging stations across the country. You can find them in car parks, motorway services stations and even your workplace.

However, charging your car at home will save you money and time in the long term, especially if you choose to home charge using energy from solar panels.

To effectively charge your electric car using solar panels, you’ll also need to install a home charging unit that converts the solar energy from AC (Alternating Current) into DC (Direct Current). 

There are lots of different types of home chargers available, and Project EV, one of the leading suppliers of electric vehicle charging, offers many types to choose from.

How many solar panels are needed to charge an EV?

To find out the number of panels you need to charge an electric vehicle, you’ll need to work out the average electricity usage of your home. This figure is measured in kilowatt-hours kWh and can typically be found on your energy bill. 

If you already use solar power and are looking to buy an EV charger for your home, keep in mind that your energy consumption will increase when you start home charging.

Finding out the size of your EV battery will also help you to determine how much energy you’ll need to charge it effectively.

As a rough guide:

Car type Battery size Typical range
Compact cars 30-35kWh of energy 100 miles
Family cars 40-65kWh of energy 155 miles
Luxury models 65+ kWh of energy 375 mile + for a Tesla S Model

 


In many cases, a standard domestic solar panel installation will also be able to handle the addition of a home EV charger, but it’s worth checking with a
solar specialist before making any changes to your solar panel system.

How long does it take to charge a car using solar panels?

While there is no exact answer to the length of time it will take to charge an electric car, there are some rough estimates you can make based on the type of car and the amount of charge required. 

A top-up charge can take as little as 30 minutes, and a full charge can sometimes take more than 12 hours. Charging time depends on the type of car, size of the battery and speed of the charging point.

Most electric car charging takes place overnight when the car is stationary for the longest period of time. 

It is best practice not to let your EV fully drain of battery before charging, as this can cause battery decay and your car’s ability to hold charge will reduce over time.

How much does an electric car cost?

The number of electric cars on the market is increasing annually, and with this, they are becoming more affordable than ever.

Many EV’s are similarly priced to that of their gas-guzzling counterparts and there are some grants available to help with the cost of the vehicle. 

Find out more about solar installation

Whether you are an EV owner already and are interested in doing your bit for the planet by installing solar panels in your home, or you have questions about how your existing solar system can work with an electric vehicle, get in touch with our friendly and professional team today.