An electric car charger, also known as an EV charger, is a useful home accessory for owners of electric cars. Most chargers channel electricity from a power grid, which itself derives energy from burning coal or gas. A more environmentally friendly alternative to a standard grid-powered charger is solar charging. We’ve created this guide to help you select a solar electric car charger for your own electric vehicle.
What Is a Solar Electric Car Charger?
A solar electric car charger is a means of charging your electric vehicle with solar power. This can be a dedicated device intended for use with solar energy or an ordinary electric car charger hooked up to additional equipment within an existing solar system. Altogether, a solar electric car charging setup commonly consists of these components:
- Solar panels: Solar panels consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert solar light into DC electricity.
- Inverter: Solar systems generate DC power, while electric vehicles need AC power to charge. An inverter converts DC to AC electricity, which is necessary for fueling an electric vehicle. In dedicated solar chargers, the inverter comes integrated in the electric vehicle supply equipment.
- Electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE): EVSE is how your vehicle receives energy from a power source. It consists of an interface, software, electrical conductors, and protocols that allow for the safe delivery of electricity into your vehicle’s battery. There are three classifications of EVSE. Levels 1 and 2 provide 120 and 240 volts of AC power, respectively. Level 3 EVSE provides fast-charging DC power at 480 volts or more.
- Battery storage system: A battery storage system ensures that your solar energy doesn’t go to waste. When your vehicle is disconnected, the system continues to store the energy your solar panels produce. When you reconnect your vehicle, it can charge off of the power stored throughout the day.
Compared to grid-powered EV charging, solar offers several advantages:
- Reliability: The combination of solar energy and battery storage allows you to fuel your electric vehicle during power outages and low sunlight.
- Cost savings: If you divide the total upfront cost of installation by the total amount of energy you can expect from it over its life span, the per-hour cost of a solar system is likely lower than that of grid energy. Also, this calculation is a constant figure, while the cost of grid energy is likely to increase over time.
- Clean energy: A solar-powered EV charging setup reduces the use of energy from systems powered by fossil fuels. In completely off-grid systems, there’s no use of fossil fuel at all. Switching to solar for your charging needs is more environmentally friendly since it allows you to cut down your vehicle’s reliance on energy sources that produce carbon emissions.
Types of Solar Electric Car Chargers
If you own an electric car and are interested in going off-grid, you can choose either to install an integrated charger or to separately add an inverter to a solar-based home-charging setup.
Integrated solar electric chargers are home chargers combined with an inverter to transform DC to AC energy. Some integrated chargers, such as the Zappi by MyEnergi, can divert surplus power from a solar array to your electric car charging port. Others, such as the SolarEdge inverter and charger, can supplement grid power with solar energy for boosted charging. Aside from installation, integrated chargers require no additional setup or wiring.
Separate installation is an excellent choice if your home already operates on a solar power system but you don’t yet have an electric vehicle. In this case, an ideal option would be microinverters. These are small inversion devices you can place under each solar panel, allowing each panel to operate independently. With this inversion method, you can easily expand the number of microinverters to accommodate electric car charging.
How To Choose a Solar Electric Car Charger
There are several factors to consider before deciding on your solar EV charging method:
A level 1 charger can take between 8 and 16 hours to provide a full charge. In comparison, the charging time for a level 2 charger is approximately 6 to 8 hours. If you drive primarily short distances, you can probably do well with just a level 1 charger. However, If you drive your vehicle for great distances on a daily basis, your average charging time is likely to be longer, so you may want to consider paying more for a level 2 charger.
The solar electric car charging options currently on the market have varying degrees of reliance on grid energy. If you’re primarily interested in being completely off the grid, a separate-inverter setup is more likely to suit your needs. However, if you’re satisfied with supplementing on-grid energy with solar power, an integrated option such as the SolarEdge is an appropriate option.
Expertise is relevant to choosing between an integrated or a separate installation. If you’re knowledgeable about solar inverters and how to set up a solar power system for optimum use, installing your own inverter separately may allow you better control over your energy distribution.
In contrast, if you’d rather have a streamlined system handled by an installation company, choosing an integrated EV charger may be the better choice. This is particularly true if you’re setting up a solar array at the same time as a charging station in your home. An integrated option in this case can reduce installation time and save money in the long term.
Post time: 2023-05-13