Shifting to EVs or Electric Vehicles is a great environment-conscious move you can make. However, just buying an EV isn’t enough, learning the most efficient way to charge an EV is also important. You should definitely learn what is the best time to charge EV with solar panels. This will help you save on energy bills at the same time.
Can You Charge an Electric Car with Solar Panels?
Yes, you can charge an electric car with solar panels. Solar panels produce solar power and this power can be utilized as electricity to charge your EV. However, to get the most power out of these solar panels, you should charge your EVs at certain times. Now, let’s learn about the best time to charge EVs with solar panels.
What is the Best Time To Charge EV With Solar Panels?
Depending on your financial, environmental, and good citizen goals, the best time to charge your EV with solar panels may vary. This time is totally dependent on what you want to achieve. Do you want to reduce your load on the grid infrastructure, save your planet, or save your money?
1. Good Citizen (least stress on the grid)
Since the US grid is now aging, the best option is to avoid using it. You should charge your electric car during the day directly from your solar panels if your panels produce more power than what your EV needs. However, if the panels don’t produce enough power, it would be best the charge your EVs at night. Typically, the power generated at night comes from a baseload generation facility. So, by charging at night you are part of the baseload and not the peak load during the day when the grid is more stressed.
Also Read: What is a DIY Solar EV Charging Station?
2. Save Money
a) Time of Use (TOU)
The Time of Use billing system is used by many utilities. In this system, the price of electricity varies depending on when you consume the power. Typically, the power is cheaper during the night and the most expensive during the day when most businesses and residents are consuming power. The power consumption starts going down in the evening.
Each utility calculates its TOU rates in different intervals. They set specific rates for specific time periods. The goal of the utility is to change the behavior of their consumer. They want the consumers to use power when it’s the cheapest. This way the utility will be able to avoid building peaker plants.
Although most utilities don’t allow a TOU setup with solar, if you have such a setup, you would save the most money by pushing your solar power onto the grid during the day. During these hours you get the most money for your power. You can charge your electric vehicle during the night when the power is the cheapest.
Some utilities don’t allow this setup. They have special utility rates for solar and for EV chargers. However, if you are on an EV billing rate with the utility, you can’t interconnect solar to the grid.
b) Net Metering
If you have a one-on-one net metering setup for your panels, then it doesn’t really matter if you push that power you produce onto the grid and use it later on, or if you consume the power right away.
If you charge your electric vehicle directly from the solar panels during the day, you’ll reduce the amount of power pushed onto the grid. You get charged by the utility on the basis of what you pushed on the grid and what you consumed from it. The charges aren’t related to when you did that.
3. Environmental (least amount of pollution)
You should use clean power to minimize the pollution of charging your car. This will help minimize the production of other power sources that need to get pushed on the grid, transported, and go through transformers which have power losses during each step. By using local clean power sources (your solar panels) you can avoid pollution by avoiding transmission losses. By charging your car when the sun is out, you can minimize your pollution to a considerable level. Now you know the best time to charge EV with solar panels and that too in context with different scenarios. After this, aren’t you curious to know how many solar panels to charge an electric car?
Also Read: V2G vs V2H vs V2L Bidirectional Charging
How Many Solar Panels to Charge an Electric Car?
Well after learning about the best time to charge EV with solar panels, the next unpopular question that arises is how many solar panels to charge an electric car. Well, the number of solar panels needed to charge an EV varies according to the size of your car. For instance, in a standard Tesla Model S, the battery capacity of the car is 100kWh.
Apart from the car’s size, the size of the solar panels also decides the number of panels you’ll need. A low-output solar panel generates nearly 1kWh of AC power per month. So, to charge a standard Tesla Model, you’ll need at least 75 such solar panels.
Also See: What are V2H Compatible Cars?
Can I Use A Portable Solar Panel To Charge My EV?
Yes and no. Although it is possible to use a portable solar panel to charge an EV it may not be efficient or practical. The amount of power produced by these panels may not be sufficient to charge an EV. You’ll need a special charging cable and adapter to charge an EV with a portable one since you’ll need a DC charging station, which is different from the usual AC charging most EVs use. Lastly, charging an EV with a portable solar panel isn’t practical for day-to-day use as the panel needs constant access to a sunny location. This may not be possible in places with inclement weather or limited sunlight. This should have answered if you can use a portable solar panel to charge your EV.
What is the Most Efficient Way to Charge an EV?
Factors like the charging infrastructure, type of battery, and available time for charging determine what is the most efficient way to charge an EV. Here are a few efficient ways to charge an EV-
1. Level 1 Charging: In this charging practice, you use a standard household outlet and a Level 1 charging cable to charge the EV. It is the slowest method of charging an EV. It is best for overnight charging or for when you have a lot of time to charge your vehicle.
2. Level 2 Charging: In this method, you use a dedicated Level 2 charging station. This station delivers a higher amperage and voltage than the level 1 charging. Through this method, you can fully charge an EV battery in just a few hours. Level 2 charging is clearly more efficient than Level 1.
3. Time-of-Use Charging: In this method, you charge your EVs during the off-peak hours as during these time frames the electricity rates are lower. Many utility companies even offer special rates for EV owners who use off-peak hours to charge their vehicles. This can help you save money by reducing your electricity bills.
4. DC Fast Charging: It is usually found at public charging stations and is the fastest way of charging an EV. To rapidly charge the battery, this method uses DC instead of AC. It can charge an EV battery to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes or sometimes even less. This method is thus quite ideal for long-distance trips.
Overall, the most efficient way to charge an EV is to use a DC fast charger or a Level 2 charging station. However, your specific needs and charging infrastructure availability decide what is the most efficient way to charge an EV for you.
With, this you have learned about the best time to charge EV with solar panels. According to the financial, environmental, and social goals of individuals, the apt time for charging their EVs with solar panels will also vary.