Thursday, September 22, 2022

Can You Charge A Tesla With Solar Panels

How Much Does The Electric Bill Go Up With A Tesla

Yes, you CAN charge your Tesla with portable solar!!!

If we assume the average pricing of national electric companies is still at 0.13$ per kWh, charging efficiency of 85%, and an average of 60 miles drive every day, then you have to account for an increase of 2.38$ each day or 71.40$ monthly on your electric bill. From a cost per distance traveled perspective, it will be 3.97$ per 100 miles of mixed city and freeway driving.

However, this cost can be considered as savings when you install solar panels to charge your EV. This means you will be able to generate your electricity for your Tesla car instead of just relying on the national electric utilities for energy.

How To Charge An Ev With Solar

Now that you know why you should charge an electric car with solar panels, heres a little more about how to do it, to make sure you add the right number of panels and get a good value for the long term.

Here are the steps to use solar panels to charge your electric car:

  • Step 1: Determine how many kWh you need for your car for your driving habits
  • Step 2: Figure out how many solar panels you need to make those kWh
  • Step 3: Purchase solar equipment that can make that much electricity
  • Step 4: Get a Level 2 car charger
  • Step 5: Enjoy!

#vanlife: Can You Charge An Electric Vehicle With Rooftop Solar Panels

Posted on July 14, 2021 by Tyler Benedict

Youre not alone in eyeballing that new Ford F150 Lightning or Rivian R1T as a potential overland truck. Or the Ford Transit Electric as a custom camper van. How nice would it be to ditch the constraints of gasoline, not to mention the pollution and expense, and just escape off grid?

The trick, of course, is battery life. So, we wondered, is it possible to charge an electric vehicle off of solar panels?

The simple answer is, yes, you could charge an EV from onboard solar panels.

The real answer is, no, its not practical yet, because math. It would simply take too long to charge up your camper van or overland truck to the point where it could drive any useful distance. But why? What would it take? And how far off are we? Lets find out

Disclaimer: I am an amateur mathematician and electrician at best, but I had smarter people fact check this story, and for all practical purposes, it accurately explains the concept.

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How Many Solar Panels To Charge A Tesla 3 Battery Every Month

How many kWh a solar panel produces varies partly according to how much sun it gets. Depending on where you live, that can average across the U.S. between 4 and 6 hours a day. Well split the difference and say 5 hours.

9.3 kWh per day / 5 hours of sun per day = 1.86 kW to meet energy needs

Lets divide that by 78 percent to account for the slight loss during power conversion.

1.86 kW / .78 = 2.38 kW

Now we simply divide the kilowatts you need by the solar panel power rating to get the average number of solar panels youll need. Most residential solar panels are 250 W.

2.38 kW / .25 kW = 9.52 solar panels

Rounding up, thats roughly 10 additional solar panels needed to charge the Tesla 3 with the long-range battery.

How Many Solarpanels To Charge An Electric Car

Can You Charge a Tesla Model 3 with a Portable Solar ...

As pointed out above, the number of panels neededfor charging your electric vehicle will depend on the size of your vehiclesbattery. However, to consider this question, well use the standard Tesla ModelS as a baseline for estimates. This Tesla has a battery with a 75-kWh capacity.Your specific needs for your particular car may be different from this, but youcan find that information on your manufacturers website.

To figure out how many panels you need to chargeyour electric vehicle, you have to know the amount of power each of your solarpanels can produce. If you dont already have panels, Ill save you some time SunPower panels are the highest efficiency.

The average 250 W solar panel can generate around30-40 kWh of AC power each month. Lets make use of the lower number in our calculations.

Given that single, low output solar panel producesroughly 1 kWh per day of electrical power this indicates that you need toinstall as many as 75 solar panels to generate electricity to power your TeslaModel S each day assuming that you start the charging process with a batterytotally drained of electricity.

However, since the average driver will travelapproximately 37 miles a day this translates to roughly 12 kWh ofelectricity. With that in mind, a much more realistic set would requireapproximately 12 solar panels. Also, even this is a conservative estimatethats based on the use of low output solar panels.

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Could You Improve On It

Unfortunately, it would take quite a few solar panels even to bring the trailer up to wall outlet levels of charging speed. The Tesla Model 3s maximum charging rate is 7.7 kWassuming the same 75% efficiency, thats 103 solar panels. And thats just to get the Model 3 fully-recharged within an 8-hour workday.

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But there are 2 things that further complicate the idea. Firstly, as The Fast Lane discovered, all EVs, including Tesla Model 3s, have built-in hardware and software that monitor charging. ItsYeBoi had some trouble getting his car to accept power from the solar panels likely due to that on-board equipment.

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Secondly, all these calculations are based on the Tesla Model 3 staying stationary. Towing drastically lowers an EVs range, even if its not going up hills. Plus, adding enough solar panels to counteract that would just add more weight to the trailer. Then youd need more panels to make up the difference, which would add more weight, and so on.

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Thats not to say its impossible to power an EV solely via solar panels. One Chevy Bolt owner managed to do so. However, it cost $20,000 and required covering every square inch with panels. Including several oversized ones mounted on the hood and roof.

How Many Solar Panels Does It Take To Charge A Tesla

Now that its clear how much energy a Tesla vehicle will require, the next step is to calculate how many solar panels are required to provide that charge and fulfill the Musk doctrine of going completely zero emissions in one fell swoop. Because solar panel electricity production is dependent on a few different factors, well use an example homeowner who already has solar but wants to know how many more panels it will take to supply energy for a Tesla Model S. Lets call her Barb.

Barb has a 5 kW solar system, the average system size for the U.S. residential solar market. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where solar is not unusually cheap or particularly expensive. In Cleveland, the average annual energy production for 5kW solar systems is 6,071 kWh, which means that every year Barbs solar panels are producing that much energy. Assuming Barbs system uses 250-watt panels, we then also know that Barbs current solar array has 20 solar panels . This means that each of Barbs panels produces just over 303 kWh of energy in a year . Lets think of this number as Barbs annual energy production for a single panel.

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Is Tesla Solar A Good Deal

However, the lack of customer service is slightly worrying, considering youll be dealing with Tesla for up to 25 years, and the lack of customization is not ideal either.

For those looking for a smaller solar setup, or a setup more specifically tailored to their needs, contacting your local solar installer may be a better choice.

Problem #3 Solar Would Be Way Way Slower

Charging Tesla Model S 3 X Y Using Solar Power | Can You Charge Your Electric Vehicle via Solar?

If it worked at all.

This is where it gets complicated. Even with the lowly 120V output, the Mobile Charger wants to pump out 3.84kW. Youll see why this is a problem in a second.

Best case scenario is we have a quad-cab truck with topper and four 100W Renogy solar panels on board. Theyre putting out 400W, running through a power control box to charge your accessory 12V battery bank. This is the typical setup for overland vehicles, RVs and camper vans with solar, so lets use that for this example.

Those auxiliary batteries are standard 12V DC deep cycle batteries, thoughnot your EVs main batteries. So to get their power to your EVs Mobile Charger and then to your EVs batteries, you need an inverter to convert to 110V DC in order to plug your charger in and then plug your vehicle in.

Remember, Fords Mobile Charger on a 120V outlet wants to output 3.84kW. Thats 3,840 watts! Most inverters are rated to 1,000 to 3,000 watts. So right off the bat, you may not even be able to get the equipment to make this work.

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What Does This Maths Mean In Reality

We understand that math is scary, but stick with us!

With modern Teslas featuring battery capacities of 100 kWh, the output from one panel in one day will charge your vehicle enough to travel just 3 miles. In reality it would be a lot less than this, as it is impossible to guarantee 7 hours of uninterrupted sunshine. A little more math and you will find that one week of continuous charging will give you only 20 miles.

It is clear that charging a Tesla with just one panel is not an option the output is nowhere near enough to power the energy use required to move an electric vehicle.

Vehicle Charging During Power Outage

Powerwall coordinates with Tesla vehicles for enhanced vehicle charging during a power outage without exceeding the energy and power capabilities of your Powerwall. Powerwall continuously responds to the changing power needs of your home and will slow or stop your vehicle’s charging to keep your home loads powered.

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How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Charge An Electric Car

Many of our customers ask how many solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls are required to charge an electric car. There are several factors our solar experts will need to consider in sizing your solar panel and battery system to meet your needs. The size and design will depend on the size of your EVs battery, your cars mileage rating, how far and often you drive every day. A general range tends to be about 10 solar panels for an average 25 miles per day usage. To put this into perspective, an average home solar energy system has between 20 to 30 solar panels. When adding solar battery storage, a Tesla Powerwall has the capacity of 13.5 kWh. CAM Solar can size and custom design a solar panel + Tesla Powerwall system to meet your energy and EV demands.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Tesla Powerwall

Can You Charge a Tesla Model 3 With a Solar Panel Trailer?

Tesla Powerwall has a warranty period of 10 years, meaning that the manufacturer has confidence that the solar battery backup system can last for more than 10 years.

Indeed, 10 years might seem like a short time, but most battery backup systems in the market right now dont last for more than even 5 years.

Just make sure that you maintain your Powerwall and have it checked every few years to ensure it functions optimally. You may also replace some of the battery cells every 5 years to ensure the Powerwall maintains its ability to store power.

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Save Thousands Of Dollars After Getting A Tesla

Getting an electric car is a fantastic way to help the environment, reduce the cost of maintenance, and save money at the pump. The current average gas price in California is $3.68 for regular gasoline. For a car with a 15-gallon tank, it costs $55.20 each time to fill up your vehicle. Instead of using carbon-based fuels to fuel your vehicle, a fully electric vehicle like the Tesla S is powered by DC electricity. You charge your car battery at home or a charging station.

Why Do Some Evs Offer Solar Panels

Let’s be realistic about the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s solar roof

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Several automakers offer their EVs with optional solar panels. Its an option on the Toyota Prius, for example, and the Hyundai Sonata hybrid. And indeed, as weve just demonstrated, their impact on the driving range is fairly minimal. Hyundai, for example, estimates the Sonatas solar roof only adds about 2.2 miles of range per day.

Range, though, isnt really the point. Instead, the solar panel provides the energy that would otherwise go to operating in-car electronics. Its much like how some mild hybrids use their integrated-starters to power things like active suspension. Its more efficient than having the engine power those devices itself.

So, while you can charge a Tesla Model 3 with a solar panel trailer,its really not the best solution.

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Area Of Panels Required

When panels are connected, they form what is known as a string. Multiple strings form an array. Now, these strings are no longer acting as individual panels but as one unit, and if one panel becomes shaded the entire string is affected.

Therefore, to charge your Tesla with these portable panels, an extremely large unshaded area is required. And unless you are carrying an axe or willing to trespass on private farmland, you may struggle to find such a space.

Charging Tesla Powerwall From The Grid

Speed Charging a Tesla with Offgrid Solar Power 🙂

You can also charge a Tesla Powerwall 2 from the grid as well as via solar PV, which can work well for those with an economy electricity tariff that gives them cheaper electricity overnight. In the winter months when there is not so much solar available to capture, the batteries can partially top up with cheap night time electricity. The Tesla Powerwall contains a smart algorithm that predicts how much electricity to top up overnight, whilst still leaving space for the next days solar input.

We have more information on electricity tariffs for battery owners here. Another great way of getting value from your Tesla Powerwall is to use the captured electricity to powr an electric vehicle. The Tesla Powerwall stored electricity during the day which can then be transferrred into the electric vehicle battery once the car is parked up at home in the evening.

Tariffs for batteries

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Think About Tomorrow Today

When you decide to install your solar panel system, thinking about whether or not you will want to add a home charging point is crucial.

Even if you plan on buying an electric car two or three years down the road, you will want to plan your solar project with that taken into account because it can have impacts on the type of inverter and number of panels you will need.

Solar panels are a cost-effective way to fuel your electric car and may require anywhere from 6 to 12 solar panels. You can use the averages as a benchmark when doing your own analysis, and if you ever need help do not hesitate to talk with one of our energy advisors today!

Can You Charge A Tesla With Portable Solar Panels

Im a great fan of portable solar panels and the flexible folding type are a great buy. I have an 80 watt dokio portable which is extremely reliable and is very efficient.

Dokio solar cells are quite unique and boast 25% efficiency. Its invaluable for popping in the car to use for camping or similar outdoor activities. Great for battery charging!

Can you charge a Tesla with flexible portable solar panels?

Renogy have a great range of folding suitcase-type solar kits, such as this 200 watt model.

If your commute is particularly light, then you could feed an inverter with one of these to charge your battery while the car is parked at work, for example.

As a permanent option, for daily recharging, it isnt really a viable option.

I favor a more permanent option, like installing fixed panels onto an outdoor structure, such as creating a solar pergola, where the car is parked regularly at home.

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How Many Solar Panels Do You Need To Charge A Tesla Car

To quickly answer this question, we present to you a table below detailing approximately how many solar panels you would need to charge your Tesla car. The chart below shows the approximate size of a solar PV system according to a persons daily usage of the electric vehicle.

To cover the energy cost for EV charging with solar panels, you will need to calculate how far you would drive on average every day. You could be able to determine this if you have recorded the mileage of your car.

This will then determine how much electrical energy your electric vehicle will require throughout the year. This will ultimately give you the size of the solar PV system you would need to install.

Average Daily Drive

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