How many solar panels will I need to charge an electric car?



Solar Panel Charging for Electric Vehicles: What You Need to Know

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been gaining in popularity for years, with the promising prospect of an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to get around. To take full advantage of an EV, however, you need to be able to charge it. Many opt for home charging systems delivered through solar panels. But properly setting up a solar panel system for an EV isn’t as straightforward as it might initially appear. In this article, we’ll be covering the considerations, types of systems, benefits, and other potential solutions you’ll want to take into account when setting up solar panels to charge your EV.

Considerations When Choosing Solar Panels

The first things to consider are the available roof space, the amount of energy needed to charge the EV, and the efficiency of the solar panels. You’ll need to know how much energy your EV needs to charge in order to determine how much energy a solar panel system needs to be able to generate. Different EVs need different amounts of energy, so pay attention to your own vehicle’s specs.

The efficiency of your solar panels also matters. The more efficient your panels are, the fewer you’ll need to generate enough energy to charge your EV. Panels can have efficiency ratings from 15-20%, so consider their efficiency when looking at buying them.

Types of Solar Panels

There are two main types of solar panel systems that are ideal for charging an EV: grid-tied systems and off-grid systems. A grid-tied system is directly connected to your power provider and allows for feed-in tariffs. This means that any excess energy generated is sent back to the grid and you receive a small credit on your power bills. It is easy to install as it simply requires an inverter and solar panels.

An off-grid system is not connected to the power grid, so all of the energy it generates is available for your personal use. This is great for powering remote locations like holiday houses or farms, and can potentially save you considerable money if your power bills are high. The downside is that it is usually more expensive to set up and requires additional components in order to store the energy generated.

Benefits of Solar Panels

As mentioned, solar panels can help reduce your energy costs over time, as they don’t require a fee to use. This is especially true if your panels are connected to a feed-in tariff, allowing you to make money back from the power you return to the grid. Solar panels will also use energy more efficiently by using the light of the sun to power your car, rather than relying on power sources like coal or natural gas. On top of this, they significantly reduce your environmental impact by reducing air pollutants.

Potential Disadvantages

While there are advantages to solar panels, there are also some potential drawbacks. The cost for installation can be pricey, as you need to purchase solar panels, an inverter, and all the other devices needed to set up the system. You’ll also need to calculate maintenance costs for keeping the system up and running, such as rotating the panels and replacing worn-out parts. Another consideration is if there are any shadows or obstructions that might reduce the amount of sunlight your panels receive, resulting in lower energy output.


Although solar panels are by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to receive an energy supply for your EV, there are some alternatives. Charging stations are becoming more and more common in cities, allowing an easy and convenient way to recharge your vehicle on the go. Wind turbines could also work as a power source for your EV, although this would usually require a lot of space.


In conclusion, solar panels are a great way to power your electric vehicle with clean and sustainable energy. Factors such as the amount of energy needed, roof space, and efficiency of your panels should all be taken into account. Grid-tied and off-grid systems are two types of systems that are optimal for an EV, and they provide benefits such as reducing energy costs, improved efficiency, and lower environmental impact. Maintenance and installation costs need to be taken into account, as well as potential obstructions like shadows. Alternatives such as charging stations and wind turbines also work, although they may not be as convenient or cost-effective as solar panels. On average, a solar panel system with around 8-12 panels can power an electric vehicle – but please check this with whoever is installing your solar panels. For those without room for such a system, charging stations can offer a great alternative.

In the end, it boils down to this question: How many solar panels will I need to charge an electric car? While there are a range of factors to consider when deciding on the number, an average setup requires 8-12 panels. When done correctly, solar panel charging for electric vehicles can be a great asset to any home, ensuring cost-effective, sustainable energy for your vehicle.

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