Charging your EV with solar power
If you drive an electric car, you might have wondered how you can save money on charging and also how to reduce your impact on the environment. One option is opting for solar powered EV charging, but just how environmentally friendly is this option? And how viable is it to rely entirely on solar power to charge your EV?
Naturally with anything EV-related, there’s quite a lot of conflicting information out there and it’s tricky to sift through what’s really going on. So in this article, we’ll discuss all things solar power and EV charging to help you understand what is and isn’t possible.
How can I charge an EV using solar power?
All you need to charge an EV using solar power is the right setup. This includes a solar PV system and an EV charger that’s compatible with solar power. And if you want to charge your EV overnight, you can even consider getting a solar battery storage system. It might seem like an extra expense at first to install all this equipment, but it’s worth it in the long run!
How many solar panels will I need?
As for how many solar panels you’ll need, a typical household setup with around eight to twelve panels should be enough. The charging capacity you can expect from your solar panels will depend on several factors. Firstly, it will depend on how often you use your car and the specific model you own. If you drive your EV frequently or if it has a lower mileage range, you’ll likely need to recharge more often. Consequently, you’ll be using a larger portion of the solar energy generated.
Plus, the amount of sun exposure your panels receive and your driving habits will also play a role in determining the charging efficiency. If you tend to drive a lot and have an EV with a larger battery capacity, you could need more panels to meet the energy requirement.
When can I charge an EV using solar power?
If you’re planning to charge your EV during daylight hours, you can directly connect it to your solar panel system. It’s a really convenient way to give your EV a greener boost, taking advantage of the sun’s energy.
However, if you prefer to charge your EV overnight like most people, you’ll need a solar battery system. This system stores the energy generated by your solar panels during the day and uses it to charge your car during the darker hours.
If you drive a Tesla, they also offer their own battery system called the Tesla Powerwall. It’s a sleek setup that stores solar energy during the day and uses it to charge your Model 3, Model S, or any other EV overnight. This helps reduce your reliance on the traditional power grid.
If you already have solar panels installed at your home, you’ll need to set up a home charging unit and a PV inverter unit.
These components work together to charge your car:
- During daylight hours, the solar panels convert UV rays into electricity.
- The inverter then converts the generated electricity from DC to AC, allowing you to charge your car.
- Any excess AC energy that isn’t immediately used can be stored by the battery system, ready to charge your car overnight.
How much does it cost to charge an EV using solar power?
Fitting solar panels and an electric charging point can seem pricey at first. But it’s likely that you’ll make your money back through the savings from switching to solar charging.
On average, you can expect to pay around £950 to have an electric charging point installed at home – though this will vary depending on the specific model you go for. It’s also worth checking out if you’re eligible for one of the available grants!
As for the solar panels, they do come with a bit of a price tag. A standard 4kW panel system can set you back anywhere between £6,000 and £8,000. But if you’re looking to drive an EV for any length of time, you’ll be saving lots in energy costs and immune to any price fluctuations. For a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery and 200 mile range, charging at home would currently cost you about £17 for a full charge.
Other cost-related considerations for solar-powered EV charging include:
- Solar panel output: The amount of solar energy generated in the UK depends on factors like location, weather conditions, and the orientation and tilt of the panels. On average, a well-installed 1 kWp solar panel system in the UK can generate around 800-1,200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.
- Charging efficiency: The efficiency of solar panels and charging equipment in the UK can vary, but modern solar panels typically have an efficiency of 15-20%. This means that about 15-20% of the sunlight falling on the panels is converted into usable electricity for charging an EV.
- Net metering and incentives: The UK government offers the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme, which allows solar panel owners to sell excess electricity back to the grid. This can help offset the cost of the solar installation by receiving payments for the electricity exported. You can also read more on government grants for solar panel installation here.
What are the benefits of solar EV charging?
Charging an EV with solar power offers several benefits, both for the environment and for the EV owner:
- Clean & renewable energy: Solar power is a renewable energy source that harnesses the sun’s energy to generate electricity. By charging an EV with solar power, you can reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
- Cost savings: Charging an EV with solar power can lead to significant cost savings over time. Once you’ve installed a solar panel system, the energy generated from the sun is essentially free, reducing or eliminating your need to purchase electricity from the grid. This can result in lower fuel costs compared to conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles, especially as the price of electricity from the grid continues to rise.
- Energy independence: Solar-powered EV charging provides a level of energy independence. By generating your own electricity, you become less reliant on the traditional energy grid.
- Increased resilience: Solar power combined with energy storage, such as home battery systems, allows you to store excess energy generated during the day and use it to charge your EV at night or during periods of low sunlight. This adds resilience to your energy supply and ensures that you can charge your vehicle even when the sun isn’t shining.
- Long-term investment: Installing a solar panel system is an investment that can provide long-term benefits. Over time, the cost of solar panels has decreased, and many governments offer incentives, tax credits, or rebates to promote solar adoption. By combining solar power with EV charging, you can maximise the return on your investment and potentially increase the value of your property.
Where to start?
Getting up and running with solar powered EV charging can seem like a bit of a mountain to climb. So that’s where Sunsave comes in; a solar energy provider on a mission to help households take back control of their energy bills.
Through a variety of simple payment plans and options, Sunsave are making solar panels more accessible and affordable for everyone. Solar panels, batteries and installation are provided in one clear, cohesive package. They also have a team of experts to guide you through the process from start to finish.
If you want to charge your EV at home for less or simply want cheaper energy, then solar is definitely an option you should be considering!