We now live in a great time where we have electric cars and the technology needed to harness the sun’s limitless energy. Solar energy is slowly becoming more accessible thanks to an upsurge in demand over the past decade, and solar energy systems now have a higher energy capacity than ever before.
The solar PV systems that are being produced today are large enough to handle the energy demands of an entire household and an electric car to boot! Meanwhile, companies like Nissan and Tesla are making electric cars more mainstream and accessible.
On the flip side, both of these technologies remain inaccessible to a majority of the population despite the rebates and incentives that have been offered by the government.
This is largely due to the lack of awareness about the fact that you can actually scale your solar energy system to keep costs low in the beginning and slowly build over time.
Using Solar Panels to Charge Electric Cars – Is It Possible?
Yes, certainly. Most solar systems can generate enough electricity to power your household and charge your car at the same time. Even if your solar array only has 10 solar panels, you’ll always have enough to charge your car’s battery and keep the lights on in the house.
How Much Energy is Needed to Charge an EV?
Before you install a solar energy system, it’s important to figure out how much energy your car battery will need and use. This will help you determine the size of the solar array that you need to purchase. Knowing the mileage rating of your electric car will also enable you to calculate the savings that you’ll make from changing to an electric vehicle.
According to the EPA, electric cars are rated based on the amount of kilowatt-hours (kWh) that they burn per 100 miles driven. This amount translates to a “miles-per-gallon equivalent” (MPGe). The easiest way to calculate the kWh/100 miles of your electric car is to visit FuelEconomy.gov. This is where you’ll also find the government’s electric car MPGe ratings.
It’s important that you calculate the fuel economy rating of your electric car as given by the EPA so that you can figure out how much power the vehicle will need.
For instance, let’s say you bought yourself a 2018 Nissan Leaf. Research shows that the Leaf uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles you drive it. So if you drive on average 25 miles per day then you’ll need an average of 7.5 kWh per day to power your vehicle.
Once you know how much electricity your car will be demanding form your solar energy system, you can then design a customized system with your installer. This solar energy system should generate enough power to cover your daily household electricity needs as well as recharge your car’s battery.
It’s also advisable to invest in a portable solar charger for electric cars if you can afford it. If not, then you can start with a malleable solar PV system that you can customize to increase energy generation capacity down the line when you do finally purchase an EV.
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed?
There’s never been a better time to invest in a solar energy system than right now. There are literally tons of government rebates and incentives that have been created to make solar energy more accessible than ever before. These financial incentives may not be available in the future, so it’s best to strike now while the iron’s hot.
You can also keep the upfront costs low by investing in a smaller solar energy system that’s flexible enough for you to install add-ons in the future as your energy needs grow.
- Install a Powerful Inverter
The string inverter is the go-to inverter for most installers. It works by tying the solar panels together in a row so that the energy they produce can be fed into the inverter at the end.
Most installers just assume that the client will want an inverter that can handle their current household energy needs so they just install a string inverter. If you want something different like a flexible inverter that can handle your current and future energy needs, then you need to speak up to make sure that you get it.
- Install Microinverters
Instead of having a single string inverter as described above, you can go for microinverters. This means that each solar panel will have an individual inverter. This makes it easier for you to install extra panels to your solar array without worrying about the capacity of your current inverter or having to purchase an extra inverter in order to power “extras” like a portable solar charger for electric car.
- Install Another Smaller Solar Energy System
If you have a big enough roof to fit more than one solar energy system then you should just go for it and install a second solar array. This will significantly increase the amount of solar power that you will be able to generate and meet all of your energy needs now and in the future. The best part is that you can save money on the second installation as well by claiming federal tax credits.
- Calculate Future Use
Whether you’re planning on buying an electric vehicle or you want to add a few more rooms to your house, it’s important to factor in future energy needs when planning your solar energy system. Be sure to discuss this with your solar installer before you go decide on anything. Also, keep in mind that building a solar system based on future electricity use is not always allowed by utility companies.
Alternatively, you can increase your home’s energy efficiency by using only energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, as well as installing a programmable thermostat. Small changes like this can significantly increase the amount of electricity that you have left over at the end of the day. In turn, this will enable you to cater to the added electricity demand of a portable solar charger for electric car when you do purchase it.
These energy-saving strategies are useful for any addition that you make that may increase the demand on your home’s solar energy system. This includes buying an electric car, installing a new swimming pool with lights, an electric water heater or heat pump system etc.