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

By Kyle Graycar
11 May 2018
How many solar panels does it take to fuel an electric car

If you are an electric vehicle (EV) owner or are interested in becoming one, there is also a good chance that you will look into installing an EV charging port at your home. Home charging ports provide a convenient way for EV owners to fuel their electric car without the need to find a public charging station.

There are not nearly as many public EV charging stations as public gas stations, so it is sometimes necessary for these owners to install their own.

At-home charging stations draw energy from the existing electrical grid. The cost for using this electricity is the same as other household electricity use, and considering the fact that an electric car can store a significant amount of energy, it may be somewhat costly.

This is why pairing a charging station with a solar panel system is a great solution for EV owners and solar panel owners alike.

To figure out how many solar panels it takes to fuel your electric car, you have to account for a several factors such as the size of your EV battery, the efficiency of your panels, type of hardware, etc.

Solar Panel And EV Charging System

The combination of a solar panel system and EV charging station brings several benefits and provides a cost-effective way to produce and make use of your solar energy. If you are trying to set up a solar panel system that can provide enough energy to fuel your electric car, you will need this type of setup.

Solar inverters are an important piece of this puzzle. Before your generated solar energy can be used by most of your devices and appliances, it must be converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). This is also the case for fueling your electric car with solar energy.

 

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Lastly, the actual charging port will be installed and connected to the inverter so that it can draw the electricity and send it into the electric car’s battery.

An even better option however, is to use a product like the new SolarEdge EV charging inverter, which pairs the charger and the inverter into one device.

How Big Is Your EV’s Battery?

Now that we understand exactly how you can use a solar panel system to fuel your electric car, we can get into the details that determine how much electricity is required.

First and foremost, the quantity of electricity needed to fuel your electric car is dependent on the capacity of its battery. An EV’s battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and can range from the the low 20s or up to 100 kWh or more.

For example, the upgraded Tesla Model S has a 100 kWh battery, whereas the BMW i3 only has a 33 kWh battery.

How Many Panels Do You Need?

As mentioned above, the specific number of panels needed will depend on the size of your electric car’s battery. For this case however, let’s take the standard Tesla Model S that has a 75 kWh battery.

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First, we need to consider the amount of energy that an individual solar panel is producing. The energy production of a solar panel is dependent on its material, size, efficiency, and a few other factors.

A typical, 250 watt solar panel will produce around 30-42.5 kWh of AC per month. To be safe, let's take the minimum to give us a conservative estimate.

If one, low-end solar panel can produce approximately 1 kWh a day of AC electricity, that means you would need an astounding 75 solar panels to produce enough electricity to fuel your Tesla Model S to 100% capacity from 0% each day.

Luckily, the average driver travels 37 miles per day, which translates to about 12 kWh of electricity. So, a more realistic number would be 12 solar panels. Remember, this is also a conservative estimate, so if your solar panels are high efficiency, the number of panels may drop even lower. Also, if you drive less than 30 miles per day, the number of required panels will decrease drastically.

Since most solar panel systems include around 25 to 30 solar panels, this figure is very realistic for prospective solar panel owners and EV owners.

View our 2018 Solar Starter Guide

Think About Tomorrow Today

When you decide to install your solar panel system, thinking about whether or not you will want to add a home charging point is crucial.

Even if you plan on buying an electric car two or three years down the road, you will want to plan your solar project with that taken into account because it can have impacts on the type of inverter and number of panels you will need.

Solar panels are a cost-effective way to fuel your electric car and may require anywhere from 6 to 12 solar panels. You can use the averages as a benchmark when doing your own analysis, and if you ever need help do not hesitate to talk with one of our energy advisors today!

👋 - We're Pick My Solar. Our mission is to empower communities to adopt sustainable technologies through transparency and choice. We've built an online platform where you can get competitive solar offers from top-notch providers.

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