Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a mainstay in New York transportation. If you depend on cars to get you from point A to point B, swapping out your gasoline-powered vehicle for an electric car is a great way to save on fuel costs and cut your personal emissions. What’s more, charging an electric car with solar panels is the cleanest, most cost-effective way to fuel your ride.

Considering investing in an electric car and wondering how solar EV charging works? Here’s what you need to know.

How does solar EV charging work?

If you’ve installed an EV charger in your home, you’ve essentially brought the gas station to you – no more trips to the pump in order to fuel your car. Your EV charger is connected to your home’s power, so if your home is powered by solar panels: congrats! You’ve got a solar powered car. 

Solar EV charging is relatively simple. All you need to charge your EV at home with solar is: an active solar system, an EV charger, and, of course, your electric vehicle. Your solar panel system will produce AC electricity to be distributed throughout your home by your main electrical panel. This power will feed into your EV charger, and therefore your EV.

How much energy do you need to charge your EV?

Though solar EV charging is a simple process, there are some variables to consider. One of these is how efficient your home solar system will be for EV charging. Charging your vehicle will consume a considerable amount of energy, so it’s important to take the size of your solar system into account. 

If you’re looking into solar panels for your home and see EV charging as part of your future, be sure to note this with your solar installer. If you already have an EV charger and you’re adding solar into the equation, be sure to collect a few months of data on your energy usage – this will help your solar installer to calculate exactly how much extra power you’ll need.

Another factor to consider is how often you’ll be driving your EV. There are different charging options available, depending on your needs.

Level 1 Charging

A Level 1 EV charger is a standard charging cord that comes with most EV purchases, and plugs into a typical wall outlet. These chargers are the slowest of the options available, but can work just fine if you don’t drive very often. These are also good to bring with you in case you need a charge while you’re out. 

Level 2 Charging

If you drive everyday, you’ll probably want to consider installing a Level 2 charger in your home. Level 2 chargers operate on 240-volt power, performing up to 8 times faster than Level 1 chargers. Level 2 chargers do require a more complex electrical setup than Level 1, so you may want to hire an electrician to complete the job. Needless to say, Level 2 chargers are more expensive than Level 1, but may be well worth it!

Level 3 or Direct Current (DC) Charging 

The fastest EV charging option is Level 3, which uses DC electricity for maximum efficiency. However, Level 3 charging is only available in some public charging stations, like Tesla’s Superchargers, and not for home use due to its high voltage nature.

Combined Solar Inverter and EV Charger

Recent technological developments have led to the creation of combined solar inverter and EV charging units. In this case, your rooftop solar system would feed directly into your EV, bypassing the electric panel. Because this is a newer technology, there are limited options on the market, and they’re generally the most expensive of the home charging systems.

Can rooftop solar panels charge an electric car?

The short answer is: yes! Using your home’s solar panels to charge your EV is the cleanest and most environmentally friendly way of doing so. 

One of the common arguments against EVs is that you can’t always control the power source – so if your neighborhood charging station is powered by fossil fuels, then your car is too. But a solar installation and EV charger in your home solves that problem completely.

If you plan to charge your EV with your solar panels, you should note this with your solar installer, as it will be an important factor in determining the size of your solar energy system. We’ve helped a number of customers switch to solar while factoring in EV charging, and even have a few charging stations of our own! Talk to one of our solar experts today.

How many solar panels does it take to charge an electric car?

The number of panels it takes to charge an electric vehicle can vary depending on a number of factors, like panel type, EV model, your vehicle use, and weather conditions. For that reason, it could take anywhere between 5 and 12 panels to fully charge an electric vehicle.

When considering a solar powered EV charging set up, it’s best to get the advice of your solar installer to determine the best course of action and maximize your production.

Solar Charging vs. Other Charging Options Costs

Regardless of your charging source, fueling your car with electricity is cheaper than buying gas. A study released in March 2022 estimated that electric vehicles are now 3 to 6 times cheaper in the United States than their gas-powered counterparts. Check out the chart below for the average cost per mile of some of the most popular gas-powered cars (left) and electric vehicles (right) on the market.

Graph credit to electrek.co

When you own an EV, you have two charging options at your disposal: public and home charging. Public charging gives you the ability to plug into commercial stations whenever you’re out and about or on a road trip. Some public stations may be free, but generally they charge per kWh of charge to your car’s battery or on a time basis. The cost of public charging is much more variable, and generally higher than charging at home.

By and large, home charging is the cheaper option. The cost will depend on your home’s electricity rates, which can, of course, increase overtime. This is why the value of charging your EV with solar power cannot be understated. The average cost of solar energy is much cheaper than grid electricity over time, and also stays consistent across the lifetime of the system.

Purchasing solar panels to pair with your EV charger simply means buying many years of fuel upfront – and puts you in control of the cost, rather than being at the whim of volatile fossil fuels prices. 

Electric Vehicle Incentives in NYC

Thanks to President Biden’s 2022 federal climate bill, all Americans are now eligible for a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a new EV and $4,000 for a used vehicle.
As a New York State resident, you’ll also be able to take advantage of NY’s Drive Clean Rebate. As part of the state’s Charge NY initiative, drivers can save $2,000 on the purchase or lease of a new eligible electric car.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with a Solar Powered Car

EVs and rooftop solar panels are the perfect pair. Each is great on its own – but when combined, you’ll truly maximize your environmental impact and your savings. 

Ready to reduce your carbon footprint with solar energy? Schedule a free consultation with NYC’s local experts today.

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