It is becoming easier and easier to be self-sufficient regarding utilities such as electricity. With solar power and then an electric vehicle, you seldom have to visit the gas station, but what is the best time to charge an electric car with solar panels?
1️⃣ In most cases, solar panels generate the most power between 10 am and 3 pm.
2️⃣ The orientation of your panels plays a significant factor.
3️⃣ Consider Time Of Use (TOU) and net metering to reduce your electricity bill.
4️⃣ Finally, the weather and time of year should also be factored in.
Using solar panels to charge your car is still a relatively new practice. So, let’s discuss everything there is to know so you do not make any mistakes.
Factors That Affect The Best Time To Charge An EV With Solar
Realistically, you cannot charge an electric vehicle from empty to full without a beefy solar power system. Understanding the factors that can affect how well the vehicle charges is crucial to getting the most out of what you have. So let’s get into it.
The weather plays a significant role, yes. However, solar panel efficiency has been improving, and some home solar systems can still generate more than 5kwh of solar energy when it is overcast. That said, here is how the weather can affect your EV from charging on solar power:
- Cloud Cover: Cloudy weather can reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches solar panels, reducing the amount of energy produced.
- Temperature: High temperatures can reduce the efficiency of solar panels. This is because solar panels operate better in cooler temperatures, and high temperatures can cause a decrease in the voltage of the solar cells.
Rain: Rain can help clean solar panels and remove any accumulated dust or dirt, improving their performance.
Snow: Snow can cover solar panels, reducing or completely blocking the amount of sunlight that reaches them, reducing their output. However, some solar panels are designed to be snow-resistant or snow-shedding to minimize this impact.
Solar Panel Placement
It’s best to get your solar panels installed in the correct orientation. But it is not as simple as pointing the panels upward. Instead, the panels must be properly positioned based on location, panel orientation, and inclination angle.
Time Of Day
The best time of day for solar panels to generate the most energy is typical during solar noon when the sun is directly overhead. This is when the panels receive the most intense sunlight and produce the highest output.
However, solar noon’s exact timing and duration varies depending on the location, season, and weather conditions.
In some areas, the panels may generate significant energy during morning and late afternoon periods when the sun’s angle is favorable, and shading is minimized.
Charging An EV With Solar: 5 Best Practices
Here are a few tips that can not only help you get the best out of your solar power system, but these tips can also help with safety.
Properly size your solar panel system: If your panels can’t generate enough energy, you may need to upgrade your system.
Charge during peak solar hours: To maximize the amount of solar energy you use, charge your electric vehicle during peak solar hours, typically around midday when the sun is strongest. This reduces the grid electricity you need and can help save money.
Use a smart charger: A smart charging station will also prevent overcharging and undercharging, which can damage your EVs battery.
Monitor charging progress: Keep an eye on the charging progress to avoid overcharging or undercharging, and ensure your electric vehicle’s battery is healthy. Check the charging status on the vehicle’s dashboard or use an app to monitor remotely.
- Consider the weather: If you are planning a long trip, ensure your car is fully charged and consider alternative charging options along the way.
How Much Solar Power Do You Need To Charge An EV?
The capacity of a solar system needed to charge an electric vehicle depends on several factors, such as:
The vehicle’s battery size
The charging speed
Your driving patterns
On average, an electric vehicle requires around 25 kWh of energy to charge from empty to full, and a 5 kW solar panel system can produce roughly 20 kWh of electricity per day.
5 Tips For Troubleshooting Your Solar-Powered EV Charger
So, what if something goes wrong and you have a little DIY itch? Well, here are 5 steps you can take to troubleshoot your EV charging with solar.
1️⃣ Check the solar panel system: Ensure the panels are clean, unobstructed, and generate enough power. Check wiring connections, and use a multimeter to measure voltage and current output.
2️⃣ Check the charging cable: Ensure the cable is connected correctly and undamaged. Check that it’s compatible with your electric vehicle and that its charging port is clean.
3️⃣ Check the charger’s settings: Ensure the charging rate, mode, and settings are correct and compatible with your electric vehicle.
4️⃣ Check the circuit breaker: If the charger is not receiving power, check the circuit breaker to ensure it’s not tripped or blown.
5️⃣ Check the vehicle’s battery: If the charger is working, but the vehicle is not charging, check the battery to ensure it’s not damaged or depleted.
Should I Charge My EV To 100% Every Night?
Well, sometimes, it is a great idea to charge your EV fully. However, it is not recommended to do so regularly. Lithium-ion batteries (commonly used in electric vehicles) are designed to operate within a specific range of charge levels, typically between 20% and 80%.
Charging your electric vehicle to 100% can speed up degradation, reducing its lifespan.
Instead, it’s advisable that you charge your electric vehicle to around 80% daily and only charge to 100% when needed for longer trips.
Can You Overcharge A Car Battery With A Solar Charger?
Yes, overcharging an electric car battery can damage it. Like any other battery, an electric car battery has a limited capacity, and once it’s full, any excess charge can cause damage to the battery cells.
Overcharging can lead to various issues, such as:
- Reduced battery capacity
- Shorter battery lifespan
- Risk of fire or explosion in extreme cases.
To prevent overcharging, most electric vehicles have built-in safeguards that limit the charging rate and stop charging once the battery is full. However, it is still advisable to use a smart charger.
📖 Related Article: Does Supercharging Reduce A Tesla’s Battery Life?
While solar charging is possible on electric vehicles, you have to do it at the right time of day. Typically, from 10 am to 3 pm, solar panels generate the most electricity, but it depends on your location, the weather, and the orientation of your solar panels.
However, the cheapest charging times are late at night and very early morning. So you would need a solar battery storage system to charge the car at night.
A smart charger is necessary, and I recommend this this Wallbox level 2 EV charger, which can sync to your home’s solar inverter to harness what your panels produce.
- Connect to WiFi and Bluetooth
- Charge multiple EVs simultaneously
- Level 2 charges 7 times faster than 120v
- Lacks customer support