Electric cars are largely liked for their lower environmental impact compared to cars with combustion engines. One of their key advantages is that they don’t have an exhaust or engine; therefore, they don’t emit any toxic gasses while driving.
Electric vehicles are swiftly gaining popularity as almost every major manufacturer now has an EV model to offer. In fact, EV sales almost doubled in 2021. While electric vehicles are an excellent way to save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions, the best way to benefit from them is to consider how you will power them. One way to do this is by using solar power. In this article, we will take a look at how you can charge your electric vehicle with solar energy.
How to Charge Your Electric Vehicle with Solar Energy
Charging your electric vehicle with solar power is a fairly simple and straightforward process. However, there are a few steps you need to follow to make sure the charging process goes smoothly. Here’s what you need to do:
Step #1 – Figure Out the kWh You Require for Your EV
The first step in powering your EV with solar energy is to figure out how many kilowatt-hours are required to run your car. If you track your mileage over a 12-month period, you can easily complete this step. However, if you haven’t tracked your mileage, you can estimate using an average number of miles every day.
As per the US Department of Transportation, the regular American drives almost 13,500 in a year or almost 40 miles daily. Here is a list of the most efficient electric vehicles of 2022:
Brand Name and Model
Kilowatt-Hours for 40 Miles
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery pack)
Mini Cooper SE Hardtop
Tesla Model X Long Range Plus
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Porsche Taycan 4S
Step #2 – Calculate the Number of Solar Panels You Need to Charge Your EV
Based on the above values, you will need between 9 to 17 kilowatt-hours of electricity daily to charge an EV. Once you have figured out the kilowatt hours requirement, you need to know how many solar panels you’re going to need to generate that much energy. An average solar panel these days can produce 350 watts of electricity under complete sunlight and receives somewhere between 3 to 7 hours of peak sunlight daily, depending on where you live. Thus your solar panel can generate between 1.05 kWh (350 x 3) to 2.45 kWh (350 x 7) of electricity each day.
Assuming that one solar panel can produce 1.75 kWh of electricity, you will need six panels to generate sufficient energy to charge a Tesla Model 3 battery and get 40 miles of range. Honestly, that’s not a lot! Obviously, you will need more solar panels if you require more than 40 miles of range.
Using the same calculations, you can figure out that you will require seven panels of 350 watts each to power a Nissan Leaf. Similarly, you will require 10 350-watt panels to drive a Porsche Taycan 4S for 40 miles.
Step #3 – Purchase the Equipment Required to Charge Your EV
You surely cannot just buy and install five solar panels and plug them into your car. Rather, you need a complete solar panel system along with all the necessary equipment. An ordinary EV solar charging setup will include:
- Portable solar panels placed in a spot that receives a good amount of sunlight
- A central string inverter that converts the DC output of solar panels to AC power or micro-inverters that convert every panel’s output to AC and supply it to a combiner box that connects to your primary AC panel
- A Level 2 EV charger
Step #4 – Start Charging Your Electric Vehicle
If you already have a portable solar panel array and want to add an EV, you can simply just get a Level 2 EV charger in case you have a free 20 – 80 amp breaker in your main panel.
If you presently have sufficient solar panels to meet your requirements and wish to offset the additional energy that’s going to be used to charge your EV, you can just follow the guide above to calculate the number of panels you are going to need for your estimated consumption.
Benefits of Using Solar Power to Charge Your EV
Almost 80 percent of EV owners have a charging station in their homes. Here are some of the key benefits of using solar power to charge your car.
Automobile drivers have been at the mercy of gas prices and could just control how much they drive and, to a certain degree, the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. However, that is no longer true. By using solar power, you can now control the cost of the fuel itself.
For instance, if you have a Tesla Model 3 that gives you 4.2 miles per kilowatt-hour and charge it using solar panels, you will spend $1,500 annually compared to filling a gas car that gets 30 miles per gallon at almost $4 per gallon. Charging an electric vehicle with solar power is also more cost-efficient than charging using public EV chargers or grid electricity.
The table below shows some cost estimates for charging an EV with solar energy vs. other charging methods.
EV charging at a public station
$0.29 – $0.79 per kWh
EV charging at home without solar panels
$0.10 - $0.40 per kWh
EV charging with home solar panels
$0.08 – $0.15 cents per kWh
Note that these figures are going to vary depending on the car’s model, the distance traveled, and the fuel cost at a given time. The only constant here is the price of solar energy generated at home.
Once you invest in a portable solar panel system, your EV charging costs will be fixed at almost 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the system’s life. This does not hold true for gas or grid electricity. As per the US Energy Information Administration, the price of grid electricity has gone up by an average of 1.98% per year. Moreover, over the past 87 years, the cost of gas per gallon has gone by an average of 3.89% per year.
With a portable solar panel system, you cannot just peg your EV charging costs at an incredibly low rate but even eliminate your driving emissions. The classic debate against EV charging is that we cannot control the source of energy, and that’s entirely true! Thus, if the local public charging station or your local electricity grid is powered by fossil fuels, then so is your EV.
To put things into context, the US Energy Information Administration approximates that renewables are going to produce 24 percent of electricity in the US in 2023. The good thing is that your EV can run on solar energy! Thus, charging your EV with portable solar panels is one of the best ways to charge your car on renewable energy and cut down on harmful emissions.
One of the biggest barriers to owning an EV is range anxiety. In simple terms, individuals are worried that EV charging stations are very few and far between. But when you invest in portable solar panels, you will have a solar power charging station in your house!
Imagine waking up in the morning to a completely charged vehicle and never having to wait in a long line at a public charging station.
4. Lowers Electricity Bill through Net Metering
The process of generating your own electricity and selling it back to the national grid is known as net metering. Even though the particulars vary a lot between different countries and energy providers, typically, net metering lets homeowners earn money for supplying electricity from clean sources to the grid.
Usually, in net metering, a two-directional electric meter is going to measure the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) supplied to the grid against the amount of electric power the house gets from the grid. From every kilowatt-hour supplied back to the national grid, you get a pre-decided amount of credit. This amount is then deducted from your total electricity bill.
This is an excellent way to minimize energy costs even if you are unable to use the electricity directly when your solar panels produce it. For instance, even if you charge your EV at nighttime, you can still get a lower electric bill by selling the power generated by your solar panels during the day and subtracting it from your overall energy consumption.
5. Reduces Tax Bill
Investing in solar panels to charge your EV allows you to earn a federal tax credit. This means you will get a credit for your income taxes that reduce your tax bill. For instance, you can be eligible for the Investment Tax Credit for the tax year that you bought and set up solar panels as long as the system produces electricity for a house in the US.
6. Offers Grid Independence
While a lot of these advantages indicate how you can save money through grid independence, another aspect of that is remote charging ability. Just as contemporary streetlamps and speed signs can work independently of the grid, solar EV chargers can let electric cars charge in areas where there is no grid power yet. Thus, when you invest in portable solar panels such as the ones by BLUETTI, you can go on a road trip in your EV without worrying about not finding a charging station.
As the world moves away from carbon-laden sources of energy, renewables like solar energy will play a critical role in our electricity supply. Solar energy is an appealing way for homes to lower their electricity bills, become independent from the national grid, and guarantee sustainably produced electricity.
Pairing solar panels with an EV unlocks additional cost savings, letting you use the solar energy you produce to power your car. At BLUETTI, we have a range of solar energy products, including portable solar panels, portable solar generators, portable power stations, cables, and a lot more. Learn more by clicking the link below.