Can you use solar panels to power your electric car?

Posted by Liv Serrage on 31st Jan 2024

Solar and EV - the dream green match!

Yes, you can! All evec electric vehicle (EV) home chargers ( VEC01VEC03) now come with solar integration as standard so you can harness the power of the sun to charge your car.

Why would I want to charge up using solar panels?

Using solar energy to power up your EV is great for your:

  • Planet –
    • switching to EV already reduces the lifetime emissions of your car by three times . Combining this with charging via a greener energy source (one that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels) reduces these emissions even further.
  • Pocket –
    • On top of the lower maintenance costs for EVs, you won’t be paying for electricity. If we take out the cost of purchasing and installing solar panels, then the rest is free! After all, the sun can’t charge you.
  • Personal Time –
    • Charge up at home at a time that suits you – either with sunlight in the day or a cheaper tariff at night (or both!) – and forget about petrol station queues.

evec insight: there are multiple grants available in the UK & 0% VAT available which can offset the cost of the initial installation of solar panels and save you even more pennies.

How do solar panels work?

The photovoltaic (PV) cells of the solar panels on your roof absorb sunlight. The DC energy absorbed is converted to AC by a solar inverter so it can be safely used by to support all your electric devices.

Your solar panels are also connected to the electrical grid so that excess energy can be sold back to the grid via the Smart Export Guarantee Tariffs (SEG). Yep, that’s right, you can get paid for producing your own electricity at home. Wahoo!

More importantly, your panels can be connected to your EV charger, meaning the energy created on your roof can power up your car.

Can you connect any EV charger to a solar panel?

You can, but you’ll need a PV inverter to make sure the energy is converted from DC to AC. Some installations will have an inverter, but you’ll need to check with the EV manufacturer or your installer.

Some EV chargers, like the VEC01 & VEC03, already have this technology in the wall box so you can get charging as soon as your charger is installed.

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

The simple answer is that depends on the range of your car! Larger batteries need more power which means more panels. If you’re looking for a solar array to charge your car, it’s best to speak to a professional to make sure you’re getting the right amount of energy for your needs.

According to Octopus Energy, on average, a solar panel system of 8-12 panels can charge up an electric vehicle. This would give an average of 1 to 4 kilowatts of power (kWp). That’s enough to charge up an average EV in about 8 hours.

evec insight: double checking is always best! Make sure you consult a professional before you commit to a solar panel installation.

How do I control my EV charger?

Most EV chargers allow you to control your charge via their app. The evec app, for example, has a specific “eco (solar only) mode” which allows you to just charge using solar power.

When can I charge my Electric Vehicle with solar power?

The thing about charging with the sun is that you need sunlight. That means the amount of energy you have to charge will depend on the amount of daylight. In winter, when it’s darker and cloudier (boo!) you may need to supplement you solar charging with electricity from the grid. But combining solar charging with a cheaper EV tariff would still mean you’re saving your pocket and the planet.