You know that you can use solar panels to power your home. But did you know you can also use them to power your electric vehicle (EV)?

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels use photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb energy from the sunlight, creating electrical charges. The movement of these charges creates a direct current and sends electricity to a solar inverter, which converts it to an alternating current that can be used in the building, stored in a battery system, or sent to the National Grid (if you have more than you need). Solar panel installations come with an inverter as standard.

PV cells are placed between layers of materials with semiconducting properties and connected together to form a solar panel. Multiple solar panels connected together are known as arrays.

How do solar panels charge an EV?

Solar panels can connect directly to an EV charger. However, not all EV chargers are able to use electricity generated from solar panels before it’s used to power the house. This issue can be solved by using an EV charger which:

  • Can use the solar-generated electricity first
  • Comes with an app where you can choose whether the EV or the house receives the solar-generated electricity

If you charge your EV overnight you’ll also need a battery to store the electricity produced during the day. If you have an EV charger set up before installing a solar PV system, be sure to check with your EV charger manufacturer to see if any settings need to be changed on the EV charger to acknowledge the new solar PV system, and to avoid any downtime on your charger.

Reach out today to get a quote and to find professional solar panel installers for your home.

How many solar panels do I need to charge an EV?

Generally between eight and 12 solar panels are required to charge an EV. However, the figure can be affected by factors like:

  • Which EV you have and its mile range and battery size. Bigger batteries take longer to charge.
  • How many miles you drive.
  • The sort of roads you drive on (frequently driving at high speeds will reduce the battery life quicker, for example).
  • The way you drive (a smooth driving style is better for battery life).
  • How much sun your solar panels get.
  • The wattage of the solar panels.

If you’re getting solar panels installed, you can work with your installer ahead of time to make sure your system is capable of producing enough energy to power everything you need.

If you already have solar panels, your system might only produce enough energy to power your home and not charge your EV. Contact your provider to find out how much it’s capable of generating.

What EV chargers are available?

EV chargers compatible with solar panels:

  • Hypervault Home, which has solar integration as standard and allows you to switch between energy sources if needed. A handy app lets you decide whether to charge using 100% solar power or a mix of power sourced from solar and the National Grid. LED lights tell you what mode the charger is in at a glance.
  • Indra Smart Pro, which diverts surplus solar energy to your EV for charging. It has three charging modes, off-peak charging, and LED status lights. You can schedule charging times using the app, and input your tariff to get the cheapest charging option and monitor how much you’re spending on energy if you use anything from the National Grid.
  • Rolec Wallpod, which comes in a simple, plug-in charger and a smart version which is connected to the app, gives you more control over scheduling your EV’s charging sessions, and is available with solar compatibility. There are two charging speeds to choose between: 3.6kW and 7.2kW.
  • Wallbox Pulsar Plus, which has solar integration as standard and an app which allows you to schedule charging times. It’s one of the smaller chargers available, taking up minimal space on your outside wall, and the LED status ring tells you when it’s charging.
  • Zappi, which has eco charging modes that use electricity generated by your solar panel system but can also use power from the National Grid. The eco charging modes adjust the power depending on what’s being used elsewhere in your home, and can be controlled from the myenergi app. It requires at least 1.4kWh, so your solar panels will need to produce more than this in order to charge your EV and provide energy for your home.

Get in touch for a quote from one of our trusted local solar panel installers

How long do solar panels take to charge an EV?

It can take between half an hour and 12 hours to charge an EV with solar panels. This significant variation in time is caused by different EV battery sizes and charger speeds.

Pros and cons of using solar panels to charge an EV

Pros Cons
Solar power is an environmentally friendly source of energy. While an EV is a more sustainable option compared to petrol and diesel cars, you might still use a non-renewable energy source to charge it. Solar power removes this barrier and reduces your carbon footprint. Solar panels still work when it’s cloudy, however production may not be optimal which highlights that on their own, solar PV systems cannot provide 100% predictable electricity. Production can be affected from day to day and hour to hour by weather. You can minimise this unpredictability by investing in a battery.
You’ll save money over time. Using solar panels for energy costs less than using energy from the National Grid. It costs less to run an EV than it does a petrol or diesel car, and even less if you’re using solar panels to charge it. You must factor in the cost of buying and installing an EV charger.
Being able to charge your EV at home overnight is more convenient than trying to find a nearby charging station during the day. It can take longer to charge an EV using solar power than it can using power from the National Grid. (This can be solved by charging your EV overnight.)

While the number of solar panels needed to charge an EV can vary, it’s worth looking into. Using solar energy for charging can lower running costs even more and it’s an excellent alternative to the National Grid for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Enter your post code to find out more information about solar panels in your area, and get a quote today.

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