How to Use Solar Panels to Charge a Car
For many people, cars are an essential way of getting around but they’re not without their flaws. Namely, running costs and emissions.
Removing the running costs and emissions would make them the perfect way for drivers to get around and this is what makes solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs) the perfect match.
With the price of solar panels and EVs following a downward trend, there hasn’t been a better time to invest in an electric car and solar panels to charge it.
Can solar panels charge an electric car?
In short, yes. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity that can not only be used to power the appliances around your home but electric vehicles too.
Solar panels are only generating energy during daylight hours which means that if you’re getting home from work in an evening, you won’t have much time to charge the car (especially during the winter months). This makes a solar battery well worth investing in as they store excess solar energy which can then be used when the solar panels aren’t generating energy.
How to charge an electric car at home
Electric cars can actually be charged using a standard 3 pin plug but this isn’t recommended. For a faster charge, you should have a home-charging point installed which is much more efficient:
- 3 pin plug: 12-15 hours
- Home-charging point: 4-8 hours
It’s worth noting that letting your EV run down to empty before charging it isn’t the best idea and cause it to decay faster (EV battery capacity will reduce over time).
Public charging points are also becoming more common, appearing in car parks and motorway service stations. These charging points are normally ‘rapid chargers’ and can provide 60-200 miles of range in a short 30 minute period. However, frequent use of these rapid chargers can cause the battery to degrade at a much faster rate.
Potential savings of solar panels to charge car
After making the switch from petrol or diesel to an electric vehicle, you’ll notice a significant saving on fuel costs. However, energy bills will begin to rise as the demand for electricity rises. By generating your own free renewable energy with a solar PV system, there’s potential to lower your electricity costs to nothing and run your EV for free.
If we put the average cost per kWh of electricity in the UK at 14p, we can work out how much it would cost to charge an electric vehicle based on the battery capacity, using the following formula:
Size of battery (kWh) x Electricity cost (pence per kWh) = Cost of a full charge
|Electric Car||Battery Capacity||Cost of a Full Charge (14p/kWh)|
|Nissan Leaf Acenta||40 kWh||£5.60|
|Renault Zoe||41 kWh||£5.74|
|Hyundai Kona||64 kWh||£8.96|
|Tesla Model X 100D||100 kWh||£10|
Generate the electricity using solar panels, rather than relying on your energy supplier, then it’s possible to reduce the cost of a full charge to zero.
|Fuel Type||Average Cost Per Mile||Annual Cost (7,134 miles)|
|Electric Car (energy supplier)||4p||£285.36|
|Electric Car (solar)||0p||£0|
In addition to the savings on your running costs, by generating your own renewable energy with solar panels you could also receive payments through the Smart Export Guarantee – Compare Smart Export Guarantee Tariffs.
Maximise savings with a solar battery
If you have a solar PV system without a solar battery, they will be generating energy during daylight hours but any renewable electricity that isn’t used will be sent to the grid. Storing this excess energy in a solar battery will allow you to charge your electric car with free solar energy when the sun’s gone down.
Find out Who Makes the Best Solar Battery.
How much does a home charging point cost?
Dedicated electric vehicle home charging points can cost from £279 upwards which includes a £500 discount through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).
Through the EVHS the owners of many electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars are eligible to receive a £500 discount on the cost of a home charging point. The EVHS can also be known as the OLEV Grant as it was introduced by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
To be eligible for the OLEV Grant, you must:
- Have purchased an EV after 1 October 2016 (full battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids with CO2 emissions below 75g/km.
- Install a chargepoint approved by OLEV
- Have off-street parking
- Installation date can’t be 4 months prior to the date of delivery or the date you become the registered driver of the electric vehicle
EV drivers in Scotland can also receive £300 off an EV home charging point through the Energy Savings Trust Scotland.
How many solar panels are needed to charge an electric car?
Typically, finding out how many solar panels your home needs can be worked out using the average electricity usage of your home – this is measured in kilowatt-hours and can be found on your energy bill. If you already own an EV and charge it at home, then the
If you’re looking to have solar panels installed before investing in an EV, then it’s worth keeping that in mind when having a solar system installed. This is because you’ll need the panels to be generating more energy to supplement the charging of your EV.
Our guide, How Many Solar Panels Do I Need, will take you through how to ensure your solar system will meet the energy demands of your home.
Always consult an MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installer to assess how many solar panels you need based on the electricity demands of your home.
How much do electric cars cost?
The number of electric vehicles available on the market is on the rise and they’re more affordable than ever. The price of many models can be made more affordable with a £3,500 discount through the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG).
Depending on the model, EV prices carn range from £21,220 right up to £90,800 (before the PiCG has been applied). A higher price will often get you an EV with a larger battery capacity that’s able to drive further on a single charge.
Find out which model came out on top when we compared the Best Electric Cars.
How much do solar panels cost?
Like electric vehicles, solar panel prices have also been getting lower over the years. Compared to 2010, solar panels are now 60% cheaper and are likely to cost between £5,000 and £6,000 for the average UK home. However a smaller 1kW system can be as low as £1,840.
Find out how much you can expect to pay with our guide: How Much Does it Cost to Install Solar Panels?
Potential cost of a solar PV system and EV
We’ve added up the potential complete cost of investing in a solar PV system, solar battery, electric vehicle and dedicated home charging point. These prices will vary depending on size of the solar system, solar battery (if you decide to include one) and type of EV so we’ve given the lowest and highest that you might expect to pay.
|)||Lowest Potential Cost||Maximum Potential Cost|
|Electric Vehicle (minus £3,500 PiCG grant||£21,220||£90,800|
|Dedicated Home Charging Point (including OLEV Grant)||£279||£999|
|Solar PV Panels||£1,840||£6,040|
|Complete Solar PV System with EV||£25,039||£105, 739|
These potential costs don’t include installation of the solar panels. Using Solar Guide, you can get free quotes from up to 3 fully-qualified solar installers based in your local area.
This might sound like a large initial investment but you wouldn’t have to purchase everything all at once. Plus, when you consider the savings you could be making on energy bills and petrol costs, the whole system could soon start paying for itself.
Get free solar installation quotes
If you’re interested in a solar PV system to charge your electric vehicle then make the best possible start by getting free quotes from up to 3 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.