By lowering your reliance on the National Grid, you can start to combat rising energy prices by using solar panels to charge your electric vehicle (EV). With the renewable energy you produce yourself, solar panels provide a more affordable and environmentally-friendly way to charge your EV.
Want to Charge your Electric Car with Solar Panels?
It goes without saying that we support renewable energy sources wholeheartedly, especially when doing so benefits both the environment and your wallet.
You’ve come to the correct place if you’ve been wondering whether it’s practical or economical to run electric cars on solar power. Installing solar panels may seem like a big undertaking and can require a significant investment. Everything you need to know about utilising your solar panels for solar car charging is covered in this article.
There has never been a better time to install solar panels (also known as solar PV) at home due to a fall in the costs of installing solar and also growing energy costs over recent years. Although there is a sizeable up-front expense involved, we assure you that, in most cases, it is a wise investment.
Keep reading, and we’ll advise what you require to charge your car with solar panels, why you should do it, how much it will cost, and the expected return on your investment. We’ll start by outlining why we think home charging for electric vehicles is a great idea.
Charging Your Electric Vehicle From Home
There is a lot to understand when you purchase an electric vehicle, especially when it comes to where you will actually charge your vehicle. We are aware that many people choose to heavily rely on the public charging network in the UK due to the upfront expense of a home charging station. However, charging an electric car at home doesn’t have to be overly expensive.
Charging your Electric Car with Solar Energy
Around half of all new cars sold are electric or hybrid vehicles, or EVs for short. The ultimate fantasy of many electric car owners is to be able to run their vehicles entirely on energy generated by their own solar PV and EV charging system.
Here’s how solar power functions in the home…
- UV rays are absorbed by a solar panel and used to create electricity for an electric vehicle.
- You receive the power to utilise this energy in your home through a technological device known as an “inverter.”
- A solar battery can be installed to store extra energy for later use.
- If your system does not generate sufficient power, you can call upon electricity from the grid as you did prior to your solar PV being installed.
UK Energy Crisis and Energy Bills Explained
The UK government has in recent years been regulating the energy price limit or the maximum amount a typical household in the UK is expected to spend on gas and electricity. This cap quickly increased to £1,971 in April 2022, and £2,500 in October 2022, putting enormous strain on household budgets and indicating the typical homeowner is now shelling out almost £700 more per year on their energy bills.
With all the future uncertainty about energy costs, households and businesses need to protect themselves as best they can from future energy price shocks. For this reason, going electric for your road vehicles is a wise choice.
The cost savings of operating an EV have increased as a result of the sharp increase in petrol prices. According to the UK government, EV drivers can save over £2,000 a year through operating cost reductions combined with other advantages like £0 road tax and advantageous company car tax rates.
There are also EV ChargePoint grants available which can provide funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing EV charge points at domestic properties across the UK. The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) grant scheme replaced the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) Scheme in April 2022.
Additionally, you can use a smart energy tariff to help you save more money…
Smart Energy and Green Energy Tariffs
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from exhaust fumes, many people move to battery-powered vehicles. However, a car must be fuelled by renewable energy if it is to have almost no emissions.
The most cost-effective option to fuel your electric vehicle from a sustainable source is to charge it from your own solar PV installation. You can also purchase renewable electricity from energy companies that provide green tariffs.
With a smart energy tariff, you can benefit from the lower off-peak rates, usually between 8 am and midnight.
Because off-peak hours are less taxing on the energy grid, smart energy tariffs are environmentally friendly. However, choose an energy tariff that relies on wind and solar for the greenest of green fees.
To enable you to travel on clean, cost-free energy, we’ll go over everything you need to know about charging your EV with a solar panel setup.
EV Charging Overview
Solar panels—also referred to as photovoltaic (PV) panels—capture solar energy that can be used to recharge an electric car.
You may be able to completely disconnect from the grid and charge at 7kW using only the electricity your solar panels produce. However, between 1kW and 4kW is the typical range for household solar installations in the UK. With a modest setup like this, you can either slowly charge your EV using only solar energy or reduce the amount of grid energy you use by adding solar energy.
A solar system and a smart home charger with solar integration are the only two things you need to use solar panels to charge your electric vehicle.
You can choose 100% solar or a combination of energy sources with any of these smart chargers by customising the energy sources in the app. Importantly, they all enable you to view thorough charging session details and set charging times.
The Pros and Cons of Charging Your EV with Solar Panels
The first thing you may be asking is how much money solar PV can save you.
Even though the upfront investment to charge an electric car may be high, there might be substantial savings to be made. When you install solar panels, you may anticipate a very good return on your investment.
These savings will be covered in more detail later. Let’s examine some of the additional advantages right now.
It’s more environmentally-friendly
You may drive with confidence knowing that your journey is as clean and environmentally friendly as it possibly can be if you use sustainable solar energy to power your vehicle. You’re making every effort to reduce your carbon footprint associated with driving, which must feel good.
You can electrify everything
Nothing prevents you from electrifying everything once you’ve made the move to a full solar setup. This could help you power much of your house.
Easy EV charging
Not to mention, charging at home is highly convenient. You decide when to charge, and you’ll always be aware that it’s free to use. It’s annoying to arrive at a public charging station to charge your EV only to discover that it’s already in use, blocked, or malfunctioning. Additionally, you are completely aware of the cost of a house charge.
Future-proof your electricity bill
Recent increases in electricity costs, the cost of charging on public networks, and even some employers are now charging employees to plug in their vehicles while they are at work. The least expensive alternative is home charging.
Save More Money in Long-Term
Your bank account will recover from the initial investment blow and you will start to save and even make money if you are able to sell excess solar energy produced back to the grid. Together, all the solar technology will enable you to realise a decent return on investment in the upcoming years.
The disadvantages of purchasing a solar PV system are:
Initial and Ongoing Costs
The solar array is not the only cost involved. For a simple 3kW system, wall boxes and house charge points cost several hundred pounds, while the largest and most expensive units can cost a few thousand pounds.
Additionally, you’ll need to be ready to pay for installation fees as well as potential future maintenance. According to estimates from the Energy Saving Trust, a typical 4kW solar array in the UK can help you save over £400 per year and 750kg of carbon emissions. This increases to more than £500 if excess electricity produced is sold back to the national grid under the SEG.
How do Solar Panels Function to Charge Devices?
Understanding the charging of solar panels is simple.
• The sunlight is converted into DC electricity by your solar panels.
• Your solar system’s inverter transforms that DC electricity into AC electricity so that it is usable.
• Your distribution board receives AC electricity to operate your devices, and the battery stores any excess energy (if installed)
• The intelligent EV charger charges your EV either straight from the distribution board or through the battery using the AC electricity produced by the solar panels.
• To charge an EV as quickly as possible, the charger can either use 100% solar power or a combination of solar and grid electricity.
• Your EV’s onboard charger changes the AC power that enters your vehicle through the cord back into DC power.
Solar Power to Charge EVs
For charging EVs, standard solar panels work just well. Standard solar panels will work. The energy they can produce as a system and the anticipated energy they will produce when it is cloudy are what matter most.
Solar power systems are measured in kW. Only under ideal circumstances, that is, when the sun is shining, is the maximum kW generation possible. When it’s foggy, your solar panels will likely operate at 70–80% of their capacity.
Therefore, if you have a 4kW solar system, you will likely generate 3kW of power on a cloudy day and 1.5kW or less on a dark day.
It is obvious that this is insufficient for your EV to receive fast charging speeds. While charging, it is enough to supplement your energy needs and cut down on the quantity of grid electricity you use. Or you could slowly charge off the grid.
To Charge an EV, How Many Solar Panels Are Needed?
Any quantity of solar panels can be used to charge an EV. The system’s overall power output is what counts. The rate at which you can directly charge using solar energy depends on the power generation.
A 4kW to 7kW solar system is required if you wish to quickly charge your EV using only solar electricity. For charging at home, 7kW will provide a range of 25 miles per hour and 4kW will provide a range of about 18 miles per hour.
How About Solar Roof Tiles as an Alternative?
The Tesla Solar Roof, which can cover your complete roof with solar panel tiles, might be arriving in the UK shortly (it’s not yet available). With each tile capable of producing up to 71.67 watts of electricity, it can easily create over 15kW.
Costs of Installing Solar Panels
The cost of a 4kW solar system without an energy storage system is approximately £6,000, whereas the cost of the same system with an energy storage system is approximately £8,000.
Depending on the solar panels you choose and the size of the energy storage system, a 7kW solar system can cost up to £11,000.
To produce 3kW to 4kW of power, you need 12 to 16 solar panels, each of which costs between £350 and £500.
The state and load-bearing capacity of your roof is additional factors influencing prices. Before solar panels can be put in, your roof might need to be repaired.
The arrival of the Tesla Solar Roof in the UK will allow you to use it to charge your electric car, but based on the current exchange rate, a 2,000-square-foot roof could cost in the region of £32,000.
Battery Storage for Solar Panels
What happens to all the electricity produced that you don’t actually use? The simple answer is that it can be stored in a battery for later use, making it an effective energy storage system.
Because a battery stores electricity throughout the day, it enables solar charging of your vehicle at overnight.
The price of your solar installation will go up if you add an energy storage system, but this is the only way to store solar-generated electricity. Much of the energy you produce will be lost if you don’t have an energy storage battery!
Is Solar Energy Worth it for EV Charging?
You can generate clean, off-grid energy thanks to solar panels. A sizeable enough solar system can provide your home with endless power when combined with battery storage.
It makes sense to use free solar energy to charge your EV if you already have solar panels because you have already paid for their installation. All you need to get started is a smart charger with solar integration.
In the absence of solar panels, you must consider the costs and benefits.
For a 4kW system, a solar system will cost at least £5,000, and with battery storage, it will cost about £8,000.
Now let’s quickly calculate. 5p is the cost of a low-cost EV tariff. A total of 100,000 is obtained by multiplying £5,000 (the price of a 4kW solar system) by £0.05. The solar system will therefore pay for itself when you use 100,000 kWh for EV charging.
At 3 miles per kWh, 100,000 kWh translates to 300,000 miles!
Approximately 3,400 kWh of power is produced annually by a 4kW system. Clearly, there is no financial advantage to solar EV charging, at least not in the near future. In order to make the math work, you would need to log some significant mileage.
Of course, solar panels enable you to consume less energy overall, which lessens your overall reliance on the grid. Even so, estimations indicate that you will, on average, recover the installation expenditures after 11 to 13 years.
So, is Solar Power Generation Worthwhile?
Yes, if you want to produce electricity off the grid, but not for immediate cost savings. But the chances are in your favour if you purchase a home with solar panels already installed or you are planning on staying in your property for the foreseeable future so you can reap the benefits of your solar PV installation.