If you're one of the increasing number of people driving an electric vehicle (EV), then you'll know that finding a place to charge it can be a bit of a challenge; plus, you want your electric car to live up to its green credentials as much as possible. As such, it might have occurred to you: can you charge an electric car with solar panels?
The answer, in short, is yes you could use solar panels to charge an electric car. Technological advancements now enable you to charge your electric vehicle in your driveway using an EV charging point, and some cars are being manufactured with built-in, onboard solar panels! In this blog post, we'll explore everything you need to know about using solar panels to charge your EV.
Can You Buy an Electric Car with Solar Panels?
Yes, you can. Increasingly, EVs are being manufactured with solar panels built in that help keep the car charged. The Hyundai Sonata for example, has a solar sunroof, as does the Toyota Prius Prime. The Sonata isn't available in the UK at the moment, but it's still promising tech nonetheless.
That said, these are all new technologies, and they're not foolproof yet. The solar panels on the Sonata, for example, can only generate enough power to extend the car's range by about 800 miles per year; it's not enough to keep the car on the road, although it's always helpful to keep charging costs low.
Can You Install Solar Panels on an Electric Car?
The real question is whether you can install solar panels on your own electric vehicle, whether it was supposed to come with them or not. And the answer is... no. At least, not yet.
First and foremost, solar panels need direct sunlight to work properly. That means they wouldn't be able to generate much power when driving during winter months, driving through tunnels or forests... Or when parked in a garage or car park... Or when the sun doesn't have his hat on, and isn't coming out today.
You also need big panels if you want lots of energy, unless you're using exceptionally efficient solar cells. While solar PV technology is advancing every year, the highly efficient cells you would need are very expensive So even if you could find a way to physically attach them to your car, they wouldn't be able to generate enough power to make much of a difference... Like in the Hyundai Sonata.
Last but not least, they're also quite fragile, so they wouldn't survive the rigours of the road very well.
So, if you've ever wondered why electric cars don't have solar panels? That's why.
So, Can Solar Panels Charge Electric Cars?
We understand how much you must want to charge your car with green energy. After all, what's the point in having an EV if you power it with fossil fuels? Sure, it's better than driving a petrol or diesel car, but it's still making your carbon footprint bigger.
Well, the good news is that you don't need to put panels on your car to take advantage of solar.
Install Solar Panels in Your Home
The best way to use solar panels to charge your electric car is to install them in your home, and with battery storage, you can add some charge to your car overnight while you sleep. That way, you'll wake up to a full battery—or, at least, a fuller battery—and won't have to worry about finding a charging point multiple times during the day.
So, if you don't have solar panels already, now might be the time to invest. Of course, solar panels don't grow on trees, and that initial investment can be expensive; that's why we made Solar Together. Solar Together can help you install solar panels on your home for a reduced price. We're a group-buying scheme that makes solar panels and battery storage more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Utilising Solar PV in Your Home
If you want to go the extra mile, you can utilise solar PV to help charge your electric vehicle and offset the energy you would otherwise take from the grid.
Having a full EV charge point installed comes in useful. You can charge your car quickly and fill the battery before your commute/journey the next day, meaning you never have to pay to charge again.
Solar PV can help speed up that process by using solar energy from your panels to supplement the charging. E.g half the power might come from solar panels and half from the grid. This means you reduce your dependence on the national grid and save money by using the energy harnessed from the sun. So, if you want to charge your electric vehicle with solar panels, ensure that your EV charger communicates with your solar PV system.
How Many Solar Panels Needed to Charge Electric Car?
Now that you know how to charge your car with solar panels, you're probably wondering how many panels you need.
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. It depends on the size of your battery, the efficiency of your solar cells, how much sun you get where you live, and how much driving you do. But as a rule of thumb, 8-12 panels are enough to fully charge a battery in a reasonable timeframe
Contact Solar Together for Solar Panels to Charge Electric Car (UK)
If you're interested in boosting your EV’s green credentials, get in touch with Solar Together today.
Solar Together is a group-buying scheme that makes solar panels and batteries more accessible and more affordable for everyone. Group buying is a great way to install solar panels on your property. By pooling our resources together, everyone can get a discount, like if you were buying wholesale! Even better, we vet suppliers for the quality of their service so that you don't have to. Beyond that, we even offer optional add-ons like battery storage and EV charge point installation.
We understand why that might sound too good to be true. So, why not learn more through our Blog?