Electric vehicles are very friendly to the environment as they do not produce emissions that pollute the air. However, many skeptics point out that the source of electricity used to charge an EV might not be clean, implying that the cars may indirectly contribute to pollution. This article discusses everything you need to know about charging electric cars with solar panels.
What are solar panels?
Solar panels (also called photovoltaic or PV panels) are used to harvest sunlight and convert it into electricity. The sunlight contains photons, the main ingredient. Solar panels can be used both in industrial and domestic applications.
Is charging electric vehicles at home with solar panels possible?
The answer is yes. The electricity from solar panels is not different from the one obtained from the grid, except that solar power is renewable.
If you want to charge your car with solar power, you might be able to get a utility company to supply you. However, you can set up your solar panels at home to charge your car and connect them to your home charging station.
Charging an EV at home offers many benefits.
Advantages of charging electric vehicles at home with solar panels
There are many reasons you would like to get your own solar panels at home to charge your electric car. Some of them are:
It is a great thing to be free of the grid when you can do so. It means you can produce your energy when you want and in what quantity you need. It also means you are sure the source of electricity you use to charge your car is clean and renewable.
Generating your own power is especially valuable when the grid collapses. This can happen with extreme weather conditions. Hurricanes or floods lead to grid outages around the world. Generating your own power with solar panels can help you in these cases.
Solar energy is cheaper than other sources of energy in the long run. According to estimates, solar energy costs American households between $0.06 and $0.08 per kWh, compared to $0.13 per kWh from the grid. By using solar energy, you are saving money both on refueling your electric vehicle and on maintenance. Keep in mind, that the main cost of solar energy cost is based on the investment cost of the system. The longer the system is used, the lower the average solar energy cost will be.
Now that you have seen the advantages, how do you set up solar panels to charge your electric car?
How to set up a solar-powered charging station for your home
If you are not technically competent to do so, you will need the services of a solar installer. The most likely place to fix the panels is the roof of your house. However, if that is not possible, a raise inclined platform will work just fine.
One question you must answer is when you want to charge your car. Sunlight is available only during the day, by which time you might have driven the car to work. In this scenario, you can introduce a battery storage system like Tesla Powerwall to store the energy during the day and charge your car when you return home. Suppose you live in states where you can sell power to the grid. In that case, you can supply all the power your panels produce during the day to the grid to get energy credits and use the credit to charge during the night. This way, you can avoid the extra cost of a battery. However, suppose your car is almost always at home during the day. In that case, it can serve as a battery so you can power your home with solar energy after the sun has set.
With a home charging station set to charge during the sun hours, you can make sure to use as much of your solar power as possible to charge your EV.
If your electric car has vehicle-2-grid (V2G) or bi-directional charging capabilities, you can power your house by connecting to the battery of your vehicle during the night with the solar energy it has stored during the day. Since the highest power needs for a household are typically in the morning or in the evening when one cooks or does the laundry for example. Using the bi-directional charging capability enables you to use your solar power in the daytime with the highest power needs.
The next step is to determine the number of solar panels you need to charge your car.
How many solar panels do you need to power your vehicle?
While calculating how many solar panels you need, it is essential to establish that you do not need to charge 100% every day. The average American drives about 37 miles a day, and your mileage might be less. However, using the average, most electric cars would require about 12 kWh, although this would depend on the efficiency of your electric car.
Assuming you install low-end solar panels, which produce 1 kWh per day per panel, you will require 12 panels. Factoring in higher quality panels and fewer miles are driven per day, between six and eight panels may be enough to charge your electric vehicle every day. For longer trips, you could charge with the grid or make use of public fast-charging stations.
Charging electric vehicles at home with solar panels is possible. Solar panels and electric vehicles are a good match because they both do not contribute to the pollution of the environment and make you save money.