According to a study by Pew Research Center, electric vehicles (EVs) have gained tremendously in popularity with over 1.8 million currently registered EVs in the US.

While EVs already reduce the operating costs for many drivers, the charging process for these cars is still heavily reliant on fossil-based current.

As an EV owner, how do you make your EV even safer for the planet? You charge your vehicle with a recommendable energy source e.g. solar power. Can solar panels charge an electric car?

The answer is a resounding YES! Not only will it help reduce your reliance on conventional current, but it is also a great way to save more money on bills. So if you are looking for a cost-effective way to charge up your electric car, read on to discover why and how much you need to invest in EV solar panels.

Why charging your EV with PV panels is the best decision?

There are 3 major reasons to charge it with clean energy:

  • Using an electric vehicle is not enough to protect the planet if the energy you use still comes from crude oil. When you use solar panels to charge a car, you are ensuring that you leave zero damage with every mile you drive.
  • PV panels have significantly dropped in prices in recent years meaning they are considerably cheaper compared to grid current. Switching to them will result in significant reductions in your energy bill.
  • Adding PVs to your residence will not only save you on your bills but will also increase the value of your property.

How much current do leading EVs need per charge?

One of the main questions people have about EVs is how much current they need to charge them.

A good indicator of the amount of power you need to charge your EV is in the battery capacity.

Here is a list of the most popular EVs in the USA and how much power they need for a full single charge

Electric VehicleBattery Capacity (Power required for a single charge)
Tesla Model Y75 kWh
Tesla Model 375 kWh
Ford Mustang Mach-E98.7 kWh
Chevrolet Bolt EV66 kWh
Volkswagen ID.482 kWh
Nissan Leaf40 kWh
Audi e-Tron95 kWh
Porsche Taycan93.4 kWh
Tesla Model S100 kWh
Hyundai Kona Electric67.5 kWh

Let us break down how much current you need to charge a long-range Tesla Model 3 as an example.

The long-range Tesla Model 3 has a battery that can hold 75 kWh worth of charge which can take the car for 310 miles on a single charge.

According to the US Department of Transportation, the average American drives approximately 13,476 miles per year. So how many full charges does the average American need every year if they were driving this EV? We get that by dividing the yearly mileage by the range of the vehicle.

13,476 miles per year ÷ 310 miles = 43.5 charges per year.

Dividing that by 12 months in a year gives us roughly 4 charges per month. 4 charges per month will consume 4 x 75 kWh = 300 kWh of current per month. Dividing that by 30 gives us an average of 10 kWh of charge per day. This gives you an idea of how much current is needed to charge a leading EV per day. If you need a Tesla home charger installation, PPM Solar can help you acquire a system to charge your Tesla EV.

How much current will an EV use per year?

From the calculation we performed above, it will take approximately 3,500 kWh of current for the average American to run an EV the size of a long-range Tesla Model 3.

Performing the same calculations for the 10 most popular EVs in the USA yields the following average consumption per year.

Electric VehicleRange Per Single ChargeAverage current Consumption Per Year
Tesla Model Y326 miles3,100 kWh
Tesla Model 3310 miles3,260 kWh
Ford Mustang Mach-E260 miles5,116 kWh
Chevrolet Bolt EV259 miles3,434 kWh
Volkswagen ID.4260 miles4,250 kWh
Nissan Leaf151 miles3,570 kWh
Audi e-Tron241 miles5,312 kWh
Porsche Taycan225 miles5,594 kWh
Tesla Model S325 miles4,146 kWh
Hyundai Kona Electric240 miles3,790 kWh

How much does it cost to charge an electric car with solar and without?

The average cost of current in the US in 2021 stood at $0.1426/kWh. If you are not using solar panels for electric cars and rely on the grid to charge your EV, it will cost you about $500 per year for a long-range Tesla Model 3.

However, if you are charging an electric car with solar panels, it will cost you only half of that per year! With solar panels producing current at an average of about $0.07/kWh, the cost of charging your EV will drop to about $245 per year marking a significant decrease in the cost of running your EV.

Therefore, an EV is much cheaper to charge using solar energy than without. Thus, you need a solar panel for EV.

Calculating how many panels are needed to charge an electric car

Once you know how much current the car uses, it is simple to estimate how many panels you will need to charge an EV with solar panels.

Here’s how to get the number of panels it would take to charge a Tesla Model 3 and a Nissan Leaf.

To determine how many solar panels you need to charge an electric car we need to take into account 3 things.

  • Firstly, the average solar panel to charge an electric car in the USA produces 0.25 kW of current every hour.
  • Secondly, some energy produced by the solar panels will be lost during transmission. We will estimate that less than 80% of the sun’s radiation that reaches the panels will be used to charge the EV. This is the efficiency of the solar system.
  • Finally, the mean quantity of sun hours that reach the USA is 5 hours.

We can use the following formula to calculate the number of solar panels for EV required to charge an electric car for daily use.

The number of panels = daily charge required ÷ (solar system efficiency x average sun hours x average solar panel production)

Tesla Model 3

We have determined that it takes approximately 10 kWh of current to charge the long-range Tesla Model 3 for daily use.

Number of panels = 10 kWh ÷ (0.78 x 5 h x 0.25 kW) = 11 solar panels (approx.).

Nissan Leaf

The Nissa Leaf has a battery capacity of 40 kWh and can travel 151 miles on a full single charge. For the average American travelling 13,476 miles/year:

Number of charges per year = 13,476 miles ÷ 151 miles (range) = 89.25 charges per year.

Number of charges per month = 89.25 ÷ 12 = 7.5 charges per month

Monthly consumption = 7.5 charges x 40 kWh = 300 kWh

Daily charge required= 300 kWh/month ÷ 30 days = 10 kWh

Number of panels = 10 kWh ÷ (0.78 x 5 h x 0.25 kW) = 11 solar panels (approx.).


We hope this article has shone the light on how you can green up your EV while saving more on your energy bills. Looking to make your EV drives more sustainable?

Consider getting your solar panels to charge a car from PPM solar. Contact us today and we will help you determine how many panels you will need for your EV solar power system in Florida and give you a quote!

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