The whole reason many people make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) is to try and make better choices for the environment. EVs don’t release CO2 into the atmosphere while in use as they don’t put out tailpipe emissions, so they’re already a greener option.
You can have a really green driving experience by choosing to charge your EV from solar panels. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint but also save money on those rising electricity bills.
Any leftover energy can also be used to power appliances in your home, so you’ll be cutting costs all round once you have the panels fitted.
As all sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2035, getting ahead of the curve with greener driving and charging is a great idea.
Is it possible to charge your EV with solar panels?
You can charge your EV with solar panels if you’ve got the right set-up – you'll need to invest in a solar PV system and a solar compatible EV charger. You can also invest in a solar battery storage system if you’d like to charge overnight.
It might be an extra expense to install the kit to begin with, but you’ll be able to save money on charging in the long run. Solar charging for EVs is a really sustainable option, and you’ll also get to skip out on the fuel costs that come with your standard Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars.
If you're buying an EV with cinch, you might also want to consider a myenergi zappi home charger. These charging points can use solar panels to boost your car, or power from the main supply like a standard charger.
How does solar panel EV charging work?
If you’re going to be charging when the sun’s out, you can charge your EV directly from the solar panel system. This is really convenient and a great way to get a greener boost for your EV.
Most people choose to charge their EV overnight, and that means a solar battery system is needed. The battery can store the energy the solar panels generate throughout the day, and use it in the darker hours to boost up your car.
Tesla has its own battery system you can use to power your car on solar energy. The Tesla Powerwall is a really flashy set-up that can retain solar energy from the sun during the day and use it to charge up your Model 3, Model S (or any other EV) overnight, reducing your reliance on the grid.
If you already have solar panels fitted at your home, you’ll need to install a home charging unit and a PV inverter unit. All of these parts are then used in the process of charging your car:
During daylight hours, UV rays generate electricity through the solar panels.
Your inverter will then change the current from DC to AC current so you can charge your car.
Any AC energy that hasn’t been used can be stored by the battery system to charge your car overnight.
How many solar panels will you need to charge your EV?
If you plan on charging your EV using solar energy, a standard domestic set-up with between eight to 12 panels will do the job.
The amount of charging you’ll be able to get from your solar panels will depend on how often you use your car, the model you have, how much sun the panels have received, and the way you drive. If you’re driving a lot and your EV has a lower mile range, you’ll need to recharge more frequently – that means you’ll be using up more of that solar energy.
Likewise, if your EV has a hefty-sized battery, you’ll probably need more panels.
The costs of fitting solar panels for EV charging
Fitting your solar panels and electric charging point can seem expensive, but you’re likely to make your money back over time through the savings from switching to solar charging.
The prices of charging points will vary depending on the model you pick, but you can usually expect to pay around £950 to fit one at your home. There are grants available to help with the cost of this, so it’s a good idea to check if you’re eligible.
Fitting solar panels will also set you back a bit, with a standard 4kW panel system costing between £6,000 and £8,000. Over the years, this is set to save you thousands in energy costs – especially as prices continue to rise.
The benefits of solar-powered EV charging
An eco-friendly alternative
Choosing to charge your electric car with solar energy means you’re becoming more reliant on renewable energy sources. This is better for the environment, and contributes to the all-round greener approach of using an EV.
Having a battery added to your solar set-up will mean you can plug your EV in overnight and charge up, even when there’s no sunlight. Your car will be filling up overnight, so you can get back on the road again in the morning.
Even though electric charging is usually cheaper than filling up with fuel, switching to solar power means you’ll effectively be charging for free. You’ll have the start-up costs of getting the kit fitted, but after that you can source power from the sun for free.
Adding solar panels to your home can increase the value of your property. This is especially true as electric cars become the norm and more people want to enjoy the benefits of charging for free using solar power.
Things to consider about charging your EV with solar panels
Initial costs of installation
Although you’ll be saving money in the long run by switching to solar power, the initial costs of installing solar panels and an EV charging point can be pricey.
Solar panels are able to collect energy even on overcast days, but they work their best in sunny conditions. During a bleak spell of weather, your panels might not be able to gather as much energy.
The more energy you want to collect, the more panels you’re going to need. This means you’re going to be taking up a lot of roof space to install your solar set-up, or you might be able to place them in a garden if they’re in direct sun.