How Many Solar Panels to Charge a Car?

Over the past few years there has been a massive increase in the demand and usage of electric vehicles (EV) due to their increasingly high mileage range and minimum impact on the environment, compared to a traditional internal combustion engine.

If you are purchasing an electric vehicle, you should also consider buying or upgrading your current solar setup.

An electric vehicle coupled with a solar setup for charging is not only more economical but also saves you from the hassle of charging your EV at commercial charging stations.

Becoming more independent of traditional energy supplies just makes sense for the future – whatever it brings, it isn’t going to get any easier!

In total for an electric car with battery capacity of 40kWh (such as the Nissan Leaf) and a daily commuting distance of 30 miles, 7 solar panels of 250 watt rating would be required to charge the battery.

The big questions are how many solar panels are needed to charge an electric car and what would be the total cost of the setup?

Other factors you need to consider relate to feasibility, pay-back period and the inevitable maintenance costs associated with a solar panel charging system.

Can You Charge An Electric Car With Solar Panels?

Many electric vehicles use a battery as their only power source, while some use a hybrid approach, combining and electric motor with traditional power sources. Different electric vehicles have batteries of different capacity.

The Audi e-Tron has a battery storage capacity of 95 kWh of energy, whereas another electric vehicle the Nissan leaf comes in two modules having a battery capacity of 40kWh and 62 KWh.

A typical hybrid battery size may be only several kWh. For example, the Ford Fusion Energi has a battery capacity of just 9kWh.

Our entire solar setup involves two main parts – solar panels and a solar charge controller or regulator. Solar panels consist of numerous photovoltaic cells that generate an electric field under the influence of sunlight.

Coupled with some other parts this electric field produces usable energy in the form of Direct Current.

This direct current is then fed to a battery using a solar charge regulator that ensures your battery is properly charged and not damaged.

Are Solar Car Battery Chargers Effective?

After finding out the installation capacity of our solar setup an important question arises – Are they effective?

The effectiveness of solar car battery chargers can be determined using cost analysis. The majority cost incurred in a solar setup is the initial installation.

While prices of solar setups are different across the globe, every country is offering some type of subsidy for solar setups.

According to one study, the cost of electricity from solar is 0.06 Dollars/KWh whereas the average electricity cost from the grid is 0.1316 Dollars/KWh. The price difference is 0.0716 Dollars/KWh.

To put this in perspective, if you travel 100km (62miles) per day you would have a yearly saving of 424 Dollars.

In five years, you would save 2120 Dollars. The bigger the solar charger installation, the greater the savings.

Can You Charge An Electric Car With A Portable Solar Panel?

Nowadays you see many portable solar panels (FSP) that weigh as little as 10 pounds and are easy to carry anywhere.

A perfect analogy of portable folding solar panels would be that of a spare gasoline canister for your traditional combustion vehicles.

An average portable panel is usually 120W with an efficiency of 15-30%. Very few of this type of panels offer built-in inverters.

If you have a 100 W portable panel it would take roughly 18 hours to charge a Nissan Leaf from a completely drained battery.

Of course, the greater the number of panels, the lower the charging time.

Reading next

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.