EVs & solar power: can you charge your car with a solar battery charger?
Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:20th January 2023
Finding sustainable solutions to powering our homes and vehicles is more important than ever, both for planet and pockets. With electric cars, vans, and other vehicles increasing in popularity and affordability every year, what options are available to businesses (and the public) to get these vehicles in motion in an environmentally savvy way?
In this blog, we discuss how solar charging could become a viable option for EV users looking for sustainable means of charging their vehicles – and what funding is available for businesses and homeowners looking to introduce this technology into the workplace or home.
How does solar panel charging work
Charging an electric car with solar power works by utilising the electricity generated from UV light via solar panels. Then, using a solar compatible EV charger, the generated electricity is transferred to the car’s battery.
Solar panels absorb sunlight, generating direct current energy. This DC energy is then converted to alternating current energy though the use of an inverter. This makes the energy domestically usable. It is this AC energy that can be used to power things like a home, business, or electric vehicle.
To charge an electric car with the energy generated by solar panels, a suitable EV charger with a solar feed is necessary. These types of chargers have dedicated charging terminals for solar power, allowing you to charge with both solar power and grid power.
Benefits of solar power for EV charging
Switching to electric vehicles already has a host of benefits that both businesses and individuals can benefit from, from their minimal carbon output to the lifetime savings. Opting to charge an EV even partially with solar power could offer additional advantages.
1. Save more money
Saving money on energy is more important than ever as the cost of living crisis continues. Making use of renewable energy sources is a great way to beat the cost of refuelling; sunlight is effectively free energy.
2. Further carbon footprint reduction
Take the sustainability a step further. Charging the already more environmentally mindful choice of vehicle with a renewable resource is a great way to keep reducing the carbon footprint of commercial and private vehicles.
3. Increase your property value
As electric vehicles increase in affordability and popularity, both buildings and commercial properties with existing charge points could be appealing if you find yourself moving locations. For buyers who own EVs, buildings with existing charging infrastructure are likely an appealing option, helping to maximise the return on your investment. And if the EV chargers also benefit from solar charging, then this increases the value more so.
Limitations of solar power for EV charging
Solar charging for electric cars has the potential to be hugely beneficial, but it still faces a few limitations that EV owners need to consider.
Much like the electric vehicles that use them, installing solar panels and charging equipment is not cheap at the start. Whilst there will likely be savings to be made further down the line, the initial costs can be too high for many. If a building doesn’t already have solar panels installed, the costs of powering an EV using the sun can quickly add up.
Using appropriate equipment that is designed to handle the task is important to ensure the safe transfer of energy in any circumstance, and solar charging EVs is no different. It’s important to check that existing equipment and new equipment match the energy requirements to ensure minimal risk of accident.
Will solar power for EVs be viable?
Much like any development of this kind, the success of solar power for charging electric vehicles will no doubt have a slow start as its more widespread uptake will first require more EVs on the roads.
However, the number of individuals and businesses opting for electric vehicles is increasing year on year and as technology develops, EVs become more and more accessible. With more of the UK driving EVs, calls for sustainable means of charging with likely take off, with more people becoming aware of options like solar power for the EVs.
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