Whether it’s because of petrol prices or a greener future, the idea of investing in an electric vehicle (EV) has probably crossed your mind, especially if you already have a solar PV system installed. To understand what sort of EV charging solution you may need within a solar household, we’ve spoken to local specialists Bright Spark Power who have given us a rundown.
You will mostly charge your EV at home
First up, let’s note that charging your EV is going to be just like charging your mobile phone. Sure, the battery is much bigger, but unless you don't have a car space, it just makes sense to charge your car at home. The cost of charging will be the cost per kWh of your electricity plan. Bright Spark Power have provided us with a complete guide to charging an electric car at home.
EV charging works like any other appliance with your solar
You can plug your EV into a regular power point, just like any other appliance in your home. While a regular power point will provide a much slower charge than a dedicated EV charge point, if you have solar, your system will be set up to use your available energy first before switching to the grid’s electricity. That means so long as your car is plugged in while your system is harvesting solar - you will be using that free electricity to charge your car.
Will my solar PV be producing enough to charge my car?
To answer this you will need to understand 1) how much your solar PV is producing, 2) how much your home is using, and 3) how much electricity you will need to charge your car. Let’s assume that you have a 5kWh solar PV system, producing 20kWh per day - most of that will be produced at peak solar generation times, the amount that your car will use will depend on what charge you set your car at. Charging at 7kWh may use more than your solar can produce at one time.
How long will it take to charge my EV with solar?
Once you know at what rate your solar PV can charge your car (the kW supply of the electricity), you just need to know the kWh size of the battery you are charging and approximately how full it is. These are the basics. Check out this infographic on how long does it take to charge an EV for more info.
How can I make sure I only use solar to charge my car?
In the first instance, you could put your car on a timer to charge only at peak generation times, say 10am-3pm. Another option is to install a smart EV charger that has a 'solar harvesting' system. These normally use smart clips to identify when there is excess solar, and rather than exporting it to the grid, the smart charger will divert the electricity to your car. When you need a quicker charge, smart chargers can generally be set to charge from the mains.
There are a number of options for smart solar chargers on the market. It should be noted however that these chargers, generally cost about twice as much as a regular type 2 EV charger, starting around $1,700 vs $800 for a basic charger. The installation cost will be in addition to the charger cost.
Can anyone install an EV charging solution?
A new EV charging point requires a dedicated circuit in your electricity meter box. As such, only a qualified electrician who is licensed in your state can install an EV home charging point. It is also recommended you enquire as to how many installations, of your selected charger, they have completed and look for a guarantee on the workmanship.
The best EV charging solution when you have home solar, will depend on the situation with your home and how you use your car. If you have a larger solar system currently generating more electricity than you use, it could certainly be worth the investment to install a solar car charging solution - especially as we see solar feed in rates drop, plus it’s better to use as much of the electricity you produce as you can. However, you may be fine to use a regular power point or non-solar EV charger, just knowing that it will be using your solar power just like any other appliance in your home.
* Editor's Note: Written in partnership with Bright Spark Power
Bright Spark Power are installing EV chargers all over New South Wales, with a lifetime warranty on workmanship. Click here to get a customised quotation for an EV charger installation at your property.