Can you Charge Electric Cars with Solar Panels?

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow in popularity, with sales of diesel and petrol vehicles on the decline.

EVs do not produce any toxic emissions meaning a greener and cleaner driving experience. However, driving an EV does not necessarily make for a completely climate-friendly driving experience.

If your electric car is charged with mains electricity, this energy will have been generated – at least in part - through the burning of fossil fuels. There is no getting away from the fact that coal and gas are essential in meeting the EU’s current power demands.

One way to ensure you’re using a renewable energy source is to generate your own! For many, solar energy is the most suitable and practical alternative. But what is the reality of powering your car using solar energy?

electric car using energy from solar panels

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Charge my EV Car?

The answer depends on a few different factors, including what kind of EV you have, how many miles you drive and how much sun you get too!

For an average-sized EV battery, 8-12 Solar panels usually generate enough energy to fully charge your car. However, if you want to know the optimum number of panels for your needs, a few calculations may help.

First you must calculate the daily energy (kWh) that your EV requires to fully charge. The below formula takes into consideration how many miles you drive and your car’s power consumption.

how to calculate the daily energy

Then, use the below formula to calculate the amount of power (DC size) you require from your photovoltaic (PV) system. Factoring in peak hours of sunlight allows for an accurate estimate.

how to calculate the amount of power you need

Lastly, you must divide the total DC size by the generation capacity of your solar panels. The result will give you a good indication of how many solar panels you will require to charge your vehicle. However, it is not a replacement for professional advise!

calculate the number of solar panels you need

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car with Solar Panels?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, such as how many miles you drive daily, where you live, your EV’s battery size and the size and efficiency of your solar system.

Typically, it takes between 30 minutes and 12 hours to charge the average EV.

Let’s use an example.

The Nissan Leaf is one of the best-selling pure-EVs in the EU and for this reason we’re using it in our calculations below.

A second-generation Nissan Leaf has a typical 4 kW solar installation and a 40kWh battery. This means it would take around 18 hours 30 minutes to fully charge the car through a regular wall plug. Understandably, this is not a convenient or indeed viable option for many!

However, a specially-installed EV charging point allows for quicker charging; you can expect a full charge to take around 7 hours. Whilst this option incurs an additional financial outlay, the convenience of a faster charge is worth the cost for many!


How Do You Charge Your Electric Car Using Energy from Your Solar Panels?

There are a few things to consider before you start charging your EV with solar.

Installing a home charging unit and PV inverter is necessary for an efficient solar charging experience. The inverter converts direct currents (DC) to alternating currents (AC), generating electricity from the energy being stored.

Even with the growing use of electric vehicles, many people are worried about not having a charging port close to their home. A home solar charging unit is the most convenient option, allowing you to rely entirely on renewable sources too!

A home battery storage solution is also something to consider, especially if you want to charge your car overnight. This allows solar energy to be stored without going to waste. It is a common solution for those who use their car consistently throughout the day and cannot find time for a quick charge.

Check out our collection of home battery backups here.

charging car using bluetti ep500pro power station

Is It Worth Charging Your Car Using Solar Energy?

Most definitely.

People can be deterred by the initial upfront costs. However EU schemes are available to reduce the financial barrier to entry.

Ultimately, charging with solar energy allows for the cheapest, cleanest and most convenient driving experience. Using a completely renewable resource, charging your car with solar reduces your carbon footprint far beyond any other charging method.

Charging your car with solar energy allows for flexibility and convenience; you can even charge your car from the comfort of your own home.

If your solar panels generate enough energy, you might even be able to power both your house and car with them! Furthermore, solar systems often last between 25-30 years. So, once your energy saving has paid for your PV system, you could be charging your EV for free for a further 17 years or more!

The benefits of charging your EV with solar energy is almost endless!


Final Thoughts

In summary, to charge your EV using solar power, you will need a large PV system - ideally 3000 watts or more. If you want to reap all the benefits of solar energy by powering your other household appliances too, you will need a larger PV system - 15,000 watts plus.

Our solar generators provide the perfect solution. With systems suitable for all eventualities, Bluetti helps to ensure that you can power your EV and home in a convenient and efficient manner.

If you seek advice for what products work best for your situation, get in touch with our customer service team today!


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