By Scott Laskey
Some technologies seem to go hand in hand, and solar charging for electric vehicles is a prime example. Why fill a gas tank when you can install a solar system for your home and use the sun for free?
Even though solar installations and electric vehicles go together, it may be hard to find the perfect match. For instance, how many solar panels will it take to charge a Tesla? What about a Chevy Volt? These tips will shed some light on the issue.
Like gas-powered cars, electric vehicles are all unique. Your car and your neighbor’s may not get the same driving distance from the same charge. As SAE notes, performance makes a big difference.
How can you figure out exactly what your car needs? We recommend checking out the Department of Energy’s fueleconomy.gov. This site tells you about the electric fuel economy of different vehicles. Enter in a model and year to see how many kilowatt-hours, or kWh, it takes to drive 100 miles. Then figure out how many miles you drive each day to find out how much electricity your car uses.
Another important factor is how you use solar panels to charge your electric car. This depends on your preferences. For instance, you can pick the kind of charging equipment you want based on your habits. Most people use one of the following types:
AC Level 1: One hour of 120 V charging equals 2 to 5 miles of driving.
AC Level 2: One hour of 240 V charging lets you drive around 10 to 20 miles.
DC Fast Charging: Charging for 20 minutes gets you about 50 to 70 miles of driving.
You may recognize some of these numbers from normal household wiring. Even if this is all new to you, the important thing to remember is that you have the power to decide.
Charging an electric vehicle is almost sure to raise your utility rates, but not if you switch to renewables. Solar panels are great because they can suit practically any budget.
Solar power systems are as unique as environmentally friendly electric cars. For example, you could mount yours on the roof or the ground. If you find good, sunny spots, then the key difference is size.
Solar panels produce a certain amount of power, measured in kW, per a given amount of area, measured in square feet. The bigger your solar array, the more energy you can generate.
Your solar system’s kWh rating describes its ability to create energy over time. Comparing this to your car’s kWh needs tells you how much of your solar electricity you’ll use to top off.
Charging your car is important, but it’s not the only reason to install solar panels. You may want to make money by selling energy to the power company. Maybe you’re trying to reduce your monthly utility costs or go green. Regardless of why you’re going solar, it’s wise to think about all your power needs.
Since each installation is different, it’s easiest to talk to an expert. They can do the math and let you know whether you might want to rethink your plans. Professionals are able to recommend different solar systems that suit your space and charging needs.
Getting an expert’s opinion can also help you come up with other options. For instance, you may be able to expand your current home solar system or add more energy-efficient parts.
The cost of charging an electric car will raise your average utility bill. Taking back control is a lot easier when you boost your household energy supply with the sun’s power. Why not skip all the math and ask an expert for help with the calculations?
The Sandbar Solar team loves helping electric vehicle enthusiasts and homeowners. How about letting us guide you through the home solar system sizing process? We’ve spent more than 13 years learning to reduce your electricity bill, and we take pride in our work. It doesn’t matter whether we’re designing a Monterey solar system or resizing an existing San Jose solar installation. We’re experts at our craft, so we finish every job flawlessly.
Find out how many solar panels you’ll need to charge your car by talking to us today. Or help a friend decide by sharing this article with them.
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.