How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

June 29, 2023

Running electric vehicles is getting increasingly popular all around the world. With growing prices for traditional power sources, isn’t it logical to switch to alternative power sources such as solar panels? Besides financial benefits, EVs can help car owners reduce their carbon footprint and improve car performance.

The fortunate homeowners who have already equipped their households with solar arrays may consider purchasing an electric car to charge it at home. It is not only cost-effective but also convenient. You will no longer need a public power station. Connect your EV charging port to your solar panel system and start saving up on your driving costs.

Let’s dive into the practical aspects of charging electric cars with solar panels. Read on to discover how to use solar power for charging stations and the required number of solar panels to charge your EV.

How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car

Home-Based VS Public EV Charging Points

Nowadays, EV owners have two basic electric car charging options — home or public charging stations.

Charging EVs at home is significantly more popular. However, it poses an extra load on local power grids. So, if environmental concerns drive you, charging your EV at home leads to you using the same fossil fuels you want to escape. That’s why a rooftop solar panel array is a game changer.

Benefits of a Home-Based Solar EV Charging Station

Free and clean solar energy is something you can benefit from anywhere in the world. However, solar panel prices discourage many homeowners from installing solar systems on the rooftops of their houses. Indeed, solar arrays are costly.

On the other hand, its cost-efficiency speaks volumes. Most solar panel users can confirm solar technology helps significantly reduce electricity expenses. So, why combine solar panels and EV charging? This way, you can unlock multiple advantages of solar power for electric cars.

How can you benefit from charging electric cars with solar panels?

1. Decreasing Your Energy Costs

At-home EV chargers are worth the investment; home-based EV charging sessions provide financial advantages to traditional gasoline cars, and public charging can’t compete with them. You can become independent from a local electricity company, saving hundreds of dollars annually. In addition, solar panel owners are eligible for federal tax credits. Explore potential additional government incentives by consulting your local authorities and electricity provider.

Here’s a comparison of owning a standard gasoline car versus a solar-powered electric vehicle over an extended period:

How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car

Source: Green Car Reports

2. Making EV Charging More Convenient

You may wonder why you must bother yourself with pricy and time-consuming solar panel installation. It all comes to convenience. With the rising number of EV owners, you risk spending countless hours waiting in line if you charge your EV at a public power station. Having a home solar power charging station is a game changer.

Forget about driving to a public charging port. Your solar panel system gives you unlimited access to refueling your car in a pain-free way.

3. Increasing Your Property Price

Both solar panels and an at-home EV charging port are desirable features for potential homebuyers. They offer reduced energy expenses and extra tax incentives. So, harnessed solar energy used for daily needs of your household is a valuable asset to your property.

4. Using “Green” Energy

Most car owners know gasoline and oil’s environmental impact. Driving an EV is a more eco-friendly option regarding air pollution. However, if you charge your car battery from the grid, you still contribute to exploiting natural power resources such as coal and gas. That’s why solar energy is an excellent choice for those drivers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

How Does a Solar EV Station Work?

A solar panel operates by freeing up photons from their atoms. Simply put, they convert the sunlight particles into energy to generate electricity.

Solar panels comprise numerous smaller components known as photovoltaic cells, which utilize ultraviolet and infrared light. They are beyond the range of human vision. However, solar panels harness this broader light spectrum and maximize solar energy conversion.

How you can use solar power for electric cars depends on the time of the day and weather conditions during which you charge your EV. If you connect a solar EV charger in the daytime when it’s sunny outside, you can set your EV directly from the solar panels. It is the greenest and the most convenient way to use solar energy generated by home-based solar arrays.

You must equip your house with a solar battery system if you charge your EV overnight. It serves the purpose of storing solar energy generated during the day and charging car batteries at night.

How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car

Source: LG Electronics

What Influences the Number of Solar Panels To Charge Electric Cars?

Several factors come into play when determining the number of solar panels required to run your solar electric car. These factors range from your car model and geographical area to your daily driving habits.

So, what are they?

1. Electric Vehicle Model

Your EV’s electricity consumption is predetermined by its battery capacity. In other words, the more energy EVs require, the more frequent battery recharges are. As a result, be ready to invest in extra solar panels to meet your daily charging needs.

A mathematical formula can determine each vehicle’s specific energy consumption level. We’ll take a 60% battery recharge as a control measurement and utilize the formula:

(Capacity x 0.6) = “60%Consumption”

Then, we’ll calculate how many miles this energy consumption could sustain: (“60%Consumption” / Efficiency) = 60%Range.

Now, let’s analyze a specific car model: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT

Efficiency 0.2kWh/km
Range 500km
Battery capacity 98.7kWh

Ford Mustang Mach-E GT uses 60% of its battery after covering 296 km of mileage. The solar EV charging station should provide an output of 59.22kWh.

2. Driving Style

How you drive your electric car significantly impacts its energy consumption, affecting how often you need to charge it. For example, accelerating quickly, driving at high speeds, and harsh braking all contribute to an aggressive driving style., which is the most energy-demanding.

Another driving peculiarity is the daily distance covered. Many EV drivers typically don’t require a full recharge daily. Usually, they replenish only the battery charge used for daily commuting, errands, and shopping.

Thus, an average European driver covers almost four times fewer kilometers per day than an American. So, a person living in Europe requires solar panel energy and needs fewer at-home solar panels.

3. Solar Panel Quality

The solar panel company you choose can influence how many solar panels you require to charge your EV. Some solar panel quality is better. So they can convert sunlight to electricity more effectively.

Another important factor is the type of solar panel. If you can afford to, you should opt for high-efficiency monocrystalline panels. Those car owners on a budget can install more affordable polycrystalline panels. However, you’ll get a lower-efficiency solar array in such a case.

4. Daily Sunlight Exposure

You should also consider your geographic location since it influences the number of peak sunlight hours. Thus, in countries like the UK, Canada, parts of the EU, and the USA, solar panels are exposed to sunlight less than in countries along the equator.

The less sunlight your solar panel equipment converts daily, the more solar panels you require to charge your EV.

You can use GHI, or global horizontal irradiation, to verify the average amount of sunlight irradiation in your area.

Explore photovoltaic electricity potential by state:

How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car

Source: Solargis

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need To Charge Your Electric Car?

Generally, it takes between 5 and 12 solar panels to charge a single electric car battery. However, everyone’s situation is different. Without precise calculations, you can’t identify the exact number of solar panels needed.

Several major factors influence the number of solar panels needed to charge your EV:

  • Car’s electricity consumption level
  • Solar panel efficiency
  • Average miles covered daily
  • Peak light hours in your area

What Is Your Solar Panel Array Output?

Do you know how much energy a solar panel array could release daily in your location?

To calculate your preferred solar panel output, you must know their wattage and the average peak sunlight hours in your area. For this purpose, you can use a special peak sun hours calculator online.

Let’s compare the output for two completely different points on the map. One has many average sunlight hours, and the other has a low number.

In California, the US, you are exposed to 3,055 hours of sunlight per year or 8 hours per day. On the other hand, London, the UK, gets only 1526 hours of annual sunlight, which equals 4 hours of daily sunlight.

The formula we will use to calculate the approximate solar panel output is below.

(The number of sunlight hours x a preferred solar panel wattage) = (Watt-hours per day) / 1,000 = Kilowatt-hours per day

Using this simple math allows us to see how vastly different energy output results we get in different cities. The average solar array output in California is 3.2kWh. Your solar EV charger will get no more than 1.6 kWh in London. It means you require two times more solar panels installed in London to generate the same amount of energy as in California.

What Is Your EV’s Daily Energy Consumption?

One of the key factors determining how many solar panels your EV recharge requires is your car’s energy consumption. Different models require different amounts of electricity to recharge the batteries.

We should start with the average number of kilometers you drive daily.

Imagine your car covers 40 km/day. You should multiply this figure by the car’s energy efficiency.

A vehicle with an average efficiency of 0.18kWh/km that covers 40 km/day would use 7.2kWh of electricity.

How Do You Calculate the Number of Solar Panels Needed To Charge Your EV?

Considering your location, the type of solar panels, and car usage details, we can calculate the exact number of solar panels you’ll need to recharge your electric car’s battery.

Let’s use the Hyundai IONIQ 5 LR-AWD model and stick to California as a solar panel location. Next, we divide the number of kWh the vehicle consumes by the kWh of electricity produced by one of your solar panels.

(Daily EV energy consumption / Daily solar panel output) = Number of panels

Round that number to the nearest whole, making the total number of panels you’ll require.


7.2kWh / 3.2kWh = 2.25 panels = 3 panels.

Empowering Your Drive: Solar Panels and Electric Cars – A Sustainable Revolution

Solar energy is an excellent way to charge your EV with renewable electricity at a decreased price. It offers electric car drivers numerous advantages. However, if you set your mind on switching to home-based solar power charging ports, consider factors determining how many solar panels you will require.

Solar panel quantity will eventually depend on your location, car model, driving peculiarities, and solar array quality. You can calculate the exact number of solar panels you need using the formulas provided.

A typical at-home solar EV charger will require between 3 to 7 panels. You may also consider installing several extra panels to provide a backup plan for cloudy days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to charge electric cars with solar panels at home? 

Yes, a home-based solar EV charger is a safe way to charge an electric car. They come with both software and physical safeguards.

What is the best time of the day to use a solar power charging station? 

Regarding cost-efficiency, the best time to charge your EV at home is between midnight and 3 am.

How long does it take to charge a solar electric car fully?

Charging your car’s battery depends on the battery size and the charging point speed. It can be anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours.

Should you charge your EV daily?

Natural battery degradation occurs based on the number of charging cycles. To avoid it, use a solar electric car charger daily only when needed.

Jed Hilton
Jed Hilton

Jed Hilton, our Founder and CEO, has over a decade of experience in the solar industry. His innovative leadership and expertise in solar technologies guide our company's vision and strategy.

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