EVs are great options for saving money on fuel and reducing your carbon footprint. Their state-of-the-art mechanics also make them fun to drive. But their main problem is that there are not enough charging points.
How often have you feared being stranded on the road with no charging point nearby if you drive an EV? Even with the growing number of EV charging points in the UK, there is enough reason for anxiety.
According to a report submitted by the CMA, London has only 80 charging points per 100,000 people. The fear of running out of power is limiting more people from adopting the EV-life. With the impending ban on the new fuel cars being implemented from 2030, this needs to be addressed soon.
Read through this guide to know how installing solar panels can solve the EV charging issue.
Using Solar Panels to Charge Your EV
Firstly, you will need a home charging unit to use solar panels for charging your EV. You can also avail a PV inverter unit to store and convert the solar energy into usable electricity.
Solar panels charge your EV the same way they charge any other home appliance. You can even charge your vehicle at night using the stored energy from domestic solar battery storage. You also have the option to charge directly with your solar PV system, but you will need to be at home for that.
Solar charging systems for EVs are readily available in the market. However, there is no dedicated standalone panel available yet for charging cars specifically.
So, where do you look for these separate parts? You need to understand that the National Grid provides the electricity for running these environment-friendly cars. Therefore, if you plan to reduce your carbon footprint, solar panel systems are the right choice.
It would be best to keep a few things in mind before choosing a solar panel for EV charging.
1. The Number of Panels
The energy required to charge depends upon the battery size of your EV. Therefore, can be no single estimate for the number of panels needed.
For better understanding, let’s take the standard Tesla S model, for instance. It has a battery capacity of 75 kWh.
A standard 250Watt solar panel can produce 30-42.5 kWh of AC in a month. On average, a low-end solar panel makes a daily production of 1 kWh of AC electricity. That means you would need around 75 solar panels to power up your Tesla Model S to total capacity from zero charge in a day.
Now the average person commutes for up to 37 miles. This means you will need 12 kWh of power daily.
Therefore, it is recommended to go for a panel system with at least 10-12 solar panels. But this is only the lowest estimate.
It is very easy to find systems with 25-30 panels. This should provide you with enough power to keep your EV charged up for a day. Of course, you will need more panels if your car has a larger battery.
2. The Size of your EV
Other than the number of panels, your car’s size and battery also determine the amount of power you will need. The battery capacity of electric vehicles can range anywhere between 20 and 100 kWh.
Of course, some luxury versions have a bigger battery capacity than that. Here is a basic chart to give you an idea about the relation between battery capacity and vehicle size.
|Vehicle Types||Battery Capacity (kWh)||Standard Range (Miles)|
|Subcompact Cars||30-35kWh||99 miles|
|Mid-Sized Sedan||40-65 kWh||155 miles|
|Luxury Tesla Model||65+ kWh||375-mile range|
3. Charging Time
EVs can take from 30 minutes to more than 12 hours to get fully charged, depending on the battery size. Charging time also depends upon how fast the charging point is.
Here is a guideline to give you a better idea about the capacity of the public EV charging stations.
|Public EV Charging Station Type||Charging Speed|
|Public Fast Charging (Level 3)||Level 3 is a fast-charging process. The DC power is converted much faster in this and requires a different type of equipment. Therefore, the systems in the charging stations are more costly and complex.|
|Public Slow Charging (Level 2)||The Level 2 charging is slower in contrast since AC is used here. The average speed of this can vary between 3kWh and 22kWh, based on the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment).|
So, you can understand how important it is for you to pay attention to the specifications of your panel.
For those with slow-charging cars, charging your vehicle overnight is the best option. Having a battery charge unit will give you long-term benefits in more ways than you think.
Note: With a high-capacity solar panel, you can generate enough energy to power both your car and house, which is great for saving money on energy and fuel.
4. Solar Inverters
Solar inverters are crucial for generating solar energy that you can use later.
However, you need to understand that solar energy does not work the same way electricity does. Special inverters need to be installed that convert the energy created by the solar panels into usable energy.
Are you wondering how that works?
Your home and all appliances run on alternating current (AC). Solar panels, on the other hand, product direct current (DC). Inverters act as a medium by transforming the DC power into usable AC power.
If you have used a rooftop solar system before, you know how vital solar inverters are.
There are three types of solar inverters:
- Micro-Inverters: You can easily increase the system size if needed and optimize the power output independently.
- Power Optimizers: Each panel output is controlled separately, and you may need an additional central inverter if the power requirement rises.
- String Inverters: These are the simplest to maintain and are highly durable and cost-effective. They are also the most common in use.
Should you Install a Solar EV Charging Point?
Before you invest in a home charging station, you may wonder about its utility. For this, you need to understand how solar panel charging happens domestically compared to public charging stations.
Charging EVs at Public Stations: Public infrastructure is the best for someone who enjoys long drives on weekends and needs fast charging. If you live in a neighbourhood near a station or travel close to one, then go for it.
Unfortunately, there are still not enough charging points available. Therefore, relying entirely on these can be hectic.
Charging EVs at Home: Investing in a home charging station, in contrast, gives you more flexibility and convenience for EV charging. On a quick look, it may seem to be an expensive option, but factors like energy cost and consumption make it great for the long run.
If you travel long distances regularly, then making this investment is wise.
Factors to Consider for Choosing the Right Solar Inverter
Once you decide to invest in a home solar panel system, you need to know which solar inverter fits your requirement the best. Here are a few factors that will help you make an informed decision.
- Operating Temperature: Inverters are usually exposed to the outdoor environment and need to be durable. Getting an inverter with a higher operating temperature ensures that it will not malfunction under extreme heat.
- Efficiency: When it comes to solar inverters, we need to consider two types of efficiencies- weighted and peak. While peak efficiency ensures optimal performance, weighted efficiency can estimate variables like DC input levels. Therefore, choosing the latter is better against natural elements, like the weather.
- Warranty:Just like any other appliance, your solar device comes with a warranty. With most inverters, you can expect to get a warranty between 5-10 years. However, there are some options with an extended 25-year warranty. It is better to purchase products with a more extended warranty.
- Clipping or Scalping: It is the amount of energy lost when a solar panel supplies more DC power than its maximum power rating. Thus, you need to choose the right size, type, and inverter model to avoid excess clipping.
Driving an EV in a city like London exempts you from Congestion Charge or ULEZ Charge. There are plenty of other benefits to driving an environment-friendly car like this. With the growing environmental concerns and the inflated need to take cleaner steps, EVs can become an everyday utility.
The shortage of charging points is a reality, though. Having a solar panel set up at your home can be beneficial in reducing unpredictability. All you need to do is calculate your power consumption and compare the options before making the jump.
You may worry about the increasing energy costs of the future regarding your electric car or otherwise. Therefore, installing solar panels is convenient for charging your EV and can be a lifetime investment.
Doing a bit of research and comparing different products can help you immensely. You can also come back and refer to this guide if you ever feel stuck at any step.
Get your solar panel EV charging system today!