EV Home Charging Stations with Solar Panels

REC Solar

Electric vehicles or EVs are less harmful to the environment than petrol and diesel cars, and much cheaper to run, which are just two of the many reasons why more and more people are making the switch.

If you are considering getting an electric vehicle, or you already own one, you may be interested in a simple way that you can further reduce the environmental impact of running an electric vehicle, and significantly reduce the already low running costs. Namely, by installing an EV home charging station and powering it with solar PV panels.

How does an electric vehicle work?

Electric vehicles are powered by a series of batteries which sit beneath the floor of the car. A control unit manages how much energy is required (thousands of times per second), and an interactive touchscreen on the dashboard shows you how many miles the battery will cover on its current charge and how much power you are using. Because the car does not need the usual engine and transmission, there is usually more space inside the car.

Pros of driving an EV

Electric vehicles or EVs are becoming a more common sight on UK roads, and a big reason for their popularity is that – unlike petrol and diesel vehicles – they do not produce harmful emissions at the tailpipe, and they are often cheaper to run than petrol and diesel vehicles. There are now lots of EVs on the market offering a variety of different features, recharge times, impressive mileage range capacities, fast charging, government benefits and incentives, and they all offer a spacious, smooth, and easy driving experience as they do not have gears.

Cons of driving an EV

However, while zero tailpipe emissions is a definite selling point for people who are concerned about the environment, EVs are not a completely green transport solution. This is because, while electricity companies are increasingly using renewable technologies to generate their power, the majority of our electricity from the National Grid is still fueled by natural gas and coal.

Another potential drawback for drivers is that there is a relatively limited number of electric vehicle charging stations in the UK. According to Zap-Map, which monitors the UK's EV charging network, as of November 2020, there are over 20,000 EV charging devices (with more than 35,000 connectors) in over 12,500 locations across the UK. The stations are run by lots of different energy companies which charge different rates to use their charging stations, e.g. £6 for 30 minutes' charge. An EV charging station is not like a petrol and diesel station as they are much smaller and tend to be tucked away in a corner of a car park or motorway service station.

A simple way to get past this potential problem is to install your own EV home charging station.

Using an EV home charging station

Many EV drivers are choosing to install their own home charging point, so they do not need to worry about locating a station while they are out (with the exception of long journeys), or being caught out by expensive electricity charges because they have no alternative station nearby.

EV home charging points are installed where you usually park your car. They are compact weatherproof units which are mounted to a wall. The car is plugged into the charge point and charged using electricity from the National Grid. This means that your EV running costs are dependent on your home electricity tariff.

How long does it take to charge an EV at home?

The speed at which an EV will charge depends on the make and model of the car, but it is measured in kilowatts (kW). An EV home charging point will charge an EV at 3.7 kW or 7 kW. A 3 kW home charge unit will provide a full charge in around 12-13 hours, while a 7 kW unit will give a full charge in around 6-8 hours. The mileage range that an electric vehicle will cover on a single charge will depend on the model of electric vehicle that you have.

How much does it cost to run an EV?

The average price of electricity in the UK is 14p per kWh or 8p on Economy 7 (overnight). An electric car will cover around 3.5 miles per kWh (on average), which works out to an approximate cost of £4 for every 100 miles or 4p per mile.

The cost of driving an EV works out to around 2-5p per mile. When you compare this to the cost per mile of driving a petrol or diesel car, the potential savings are clear.

Average running costs Petrol Diesel Electric
Cost per mile 16p 13p 4p
Cost per 50 miles £8.00 £6.50 £2.00
Cost per 100 miles £16.00 £13.00 £4.00
Cost per 1,000 miles £160.00 £130.00 £40.00
Cost per 10,000 miles £1,600.00 £1,300.00 £400.00

An electric car can be as much as three times cheaper to run than a petrol car, but there is a way to reduce EV running costs and emissions even further.

EV home charging with solar panels

Solar panels are the perfect partner for an EV home charging station, as buying solar panels is like bulk-buying fuel for your EV. If you are planning on installing an EV home charging station, you should also give serious thought to installing solar PV panels on your roof at the same time. There are two big reasons for this.

Reduced emissions

If you install an EV home charging station to charge your car and power it with electricity from the National Grid, EVs are not as environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, most of the electricity we receive from the Grid is produced through the burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas which emit harmful emissions. This reduces the environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle.

Solar PV panels convert natural energy from the sun electricity which can be used to power an EV home charging point. This means that the car will use clean energy to run and will not produce tailpipe emissions.

Cheaper – or zero – running costs

Solar PV panels generate free electricity which can charge an EV during the day. When the sun is shining on the panels, the electricity has to be used immediately or sent to the National Grid. On particularly cloudy days and during the night, solar panels do not produce electricity.

However, by installing a solar battery as part of the system, you can store solar electricity which is generated (and not used) during the day so that it can be used at another time, e.g. to charge an EV overnight. So, if your EV home charging station is powered by solar and you have a solar battery to store your free electricity, you could be running your car for free.

Can solar panels generate enough electricity to charge an EV?

The short answer is yes, the average sized solar panel system can produce enough electricity to not only power an EV, but also to power the average home as well. Of course, this is all dependent on the capacity of your solar panels, how much sunlight they are exposed to, how much electricity you use at home, the amount of charge your EV needs, and how many miles you cover.

For example...

The average 5 kW solar PV system can generate 18 kWh of electricity per day between March to October. The average UK home (which uses an electric cooker) uses 9 kWh of electricity per day.

This leaves 9 kWh of electricity for an electric vehicle per day.

The average EV can cover 4 miles for every 1 kWh of charge. 4 (miles) x 9 (kWh) = 36 miles of driving range per day, or 13,000 miles per year.

Winter in the UK can be cloudy which will reduce how much electricity your panels can generate, but on average they will still produce around 7.5 kWh per day, which is enough to power a car for 30 miles per day.

To calculate the right size solar panel system for your home, you need to work out:

1. A = Average daily electricity consumption
B = Average daily mileage divided by 4 (to get the kW used driving per day)

2. Add A to B to find out C (anticipated daily kWh electricity requirement)

3. C x 365 days of the year = D

4. D / 1000 = suggested kWh size of pv system needed to completely offset electric vehicle and domestic electricity requirement

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EV with solar panels: savings, and earnings

How much could you save on fuel by switching to an EV powered entirely by solar panels?

A 5 kW solar panel system generating 18 kWh of electricity per day could cover 9 kWh of electricity consumption in the home with 9 kWh left for an EV to cover up to 13,000 miles per year. The table below illustrates some potential fuel savings based on these figures.

Average cost per mile Potential savings based on 8,000 miles per year Potential savings based on 10,000 miles per year Potential savings based on 12,000 miles per year
Petrol car 16p £1,280.00 £1,600.00 £1,920.00
Diesel car 13p £1,040.00 £1,300.00 £1,560.00
EV (powered by National Grid) 4p £320.00 £400.00 £480.00

How much could you save on domestic electricity?

This would still leave 9 kWh of free electricity per day to cover domestic appliances. Over a year, this totals 3,285 kWh (9 kWh x 365 days) of electricity. With the average unit of electricity costing 14p per kWh, this is an additional potential saving of £460 per year.

So, if you are switching from a petrol to an electric vehicle with a home charging point and installing a 5 kW solar panel system (with a battery), your total annual savings on both fuel and domestic bills could reach up to £2,380 (£1,920 + £460).

How much does an EV home charging station cost?

To install an EV home charging station, you will be looking at costs of £250-£800 depending on its charge capacity and the brand you choose. However, you can reduce these costs by as much as £350 with the Government-funded Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) which provides grants for home charge points. To be eligible to apply for the scheme, EV owners must provide evidence of keeper-ship, lease, be named as the primary user of an eligible electric vehicle (bought new or second hand), and have off-street parking facilities suitable for charge point installation.

Choosing an EV home charging station

When choosing an EV home charging station to use with solar PV panels, it is important to choose a model which is compatible with solar panels, as solar panels charge at a lower rate. Electric vehicles have a Type 1 or Type 2 connector, so you need to be sure to choose an EV charge point which is compatible.

Electric car charging points must be installed by a certified professional which will involve mounting the chargepoint on an exterior wall or garage, near to where the car is parked. Installation takes around 2-3 hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the installation.

How much do solar panels cost?

The average home needs a 3 or 4 kW solar panel system to meet their domestic energy needs. These systems tend to cost between £3,000-£5,000. For homes looking to cover both their domestic needs and run an EV, a 5-7kW system may be necessary which typically cost £7,000-£10,000.

Get quotes for solar PV panels

If you are interested in a solar PV system with a battery to power your EV home charging station, make the best possible start by getting free quotes from up to 4 MCS certified (or equivalent) installers in your area.

All you have to do is take a few moments to complete our simple online form and you'll soon be contacted by local solar panel installers getting in touch to provide their no-obligation quote.

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