Can You Charge an Electric Car with Solar Panels?

The cost of running an electric car is a lot cheaper than fueling a diesel or petrol car. But did you know you can save more if you use solar panels to charge your electric car? Not only can solar panels reduce the cost of charging an EV, they are also more sustainable. So, let’s dive in and learn more about the benefits of EV battery charging from solar panels.  

What is solar panel charging and how does it work?

Solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. This can then be used to charge your electric car. Typically, solar panels are placed on roofs to get as much sunlight as possible. They are then connected to your solar battery charger and other electrical devices. With enough solar panels and sufficient sunlight, you can power your entire home and your EV.  

How many solar panels do I need to charge a car?

It may take around five to 12 solar panels to charge an electric car. However, there are several factors to consider first, such as the miles you travel per day, the electric car’s energy efficiency, and the miles per kWh. 

If you drive around 37 miles per day, which is the average distance for most drivers, you will need approximately 9.7 kWh of electricity daily to charge an electric car. So, how many solar panels are needed to charge your EV? Most solar panels have an output of 360W, and with 4.5 hours of good sunlight per day, it’s possible to get 1.62 kWh. Now, to get the needed 9.7 kWh to charge an electric car, you will need at least six solar panels. 

Benefits of Battery Charging from Solar Panels 

A few decades ago, solar panels were not as common and affordable as today. Harnessing power from renewable sources is more readily available for us now, so if you’re thinking about investing in solar panels, read on to learn about their benefits.

Clean and Sustainable Energy

By driving an electric car, you’re already helping reduce air and noise pollution. EVs have a positive impact on the environment, and when you charge your EV using solar energy, your carbon footprint is minimised even further. At present, about half of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable energy, but 30% still comes from gas and coal. So, if you use charging points to top up your EV, its energy source won’t be 100% green, unlike having your own solar panels. 

Savings, Surplus Energy, and Good ROI

Initially, you need to spend money to buy solar panels and pay for the installation. In the long run, though, you’ll be able to enjoy free electricity and even earn from the surplus energy that your solar panels produce. How, you ask? You can sell back any excess energy to the National Grid and get paid for it. Depending on your energy consumption and how much power your solar panels produce, you may be able to make a return on your investment in 10 years or less. 

Government Grants and Schemes

The UK Government has been pushing for greener renewable energy and provided grants to those who want to install solar panels. Currently, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) will run up to March 2026 and has an allocated budget of £4bn for the improvement of home energy ratings. This scheme allows households to replace their inefficient heating systems with more effective and eco-friendly ones, such as solar-powered systems (subject to household eligibility.)

Another scheme is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) for small-scale and low-carbon electricity generators so they can offer export tariffs to customers who send their surplus energy back to the electrical grid. The SEG began in January 2020, and there is currently no end date for this scheme. Anyone with solar panel systems may apply, provided that they have a smart metre to measure the power they send back to the grid. 

What to consider before installing solar panels?

If you look at the big picture, there’s little to no downside to getting solar panels installed. Nevertheless, installing solar panels will still cost money and should be planned thoroughly. Here are some of the things you might want to consider first. 

Cost of Installation

You need to purchase solar panels and other essential equipment to produce electricity. You also need to hire expert technicians to install the solar panels and the EV charge point in your home, so expect that this part will put a dent in your bank account. However, government grants are available to help you with some of the expenses. Be sure to check out if you’re eligible! 

Location and Amount of Sunlight

If you live in an area where you’re not getting a lot of sunlight, you might want to think about whether getting solar panels is worth it. The less sunlight available, the less energy is generated by your solar power system. If the sunlight is not enough, then there might not be enough power to charge your electric car.

So, before finalising your plan to install solar panels, observe and examine how much sunlight your area gets throughout the day and during different seasons. And be realistic - you will be able to generate more in the summer months than in the winter when there’s less sunlight. You can also install a battery and save some power for later when you need it.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Electric cars are great for the environment, and they’re cheaper to run than their combustion-engine counterparts. If you’re looking to make the switch and drive a green car, Carmoola can make buying an EV more affordable! Our HP finance option spreads the cost of a new EV into monthly instalments, so you won’t have to pay the full price in one go. Curious to know how Carmoola works? Drop us a message! We’d be happy to answer your questions!