Solar charging your electric car at home or work is totally feasible. This article explains how and many already do so. Small electric cars require only a 15 amp power point and the associated cable plugs into the car’s onboard charger.

Virtually all electric vehicles have a charging unit inbuilt. Consult the vendor about charging options.

If used for commuting 40-50 km a day, re-charging requires 2.5-5 kilowatt/hours. One kilowatt hour is often called ‘one unit’. During off-peak periods it may cost less.

Here’s a guide to how many kilometres you can drive before recharging.

Type Maximum charge (kW) km/hour of charging
BMW i3 7.4 25
Chevy Spark EV 3.3 11
Fiat 500e 6.6 22
Ford Focus Electric 6.6 22
Kia Soul EV 6.6 22
Mercedes B-Class Electric 10 29
Mitsubishi i-MieEV 3.3 11
Nissan Leaf 3.3 – 6.6 11 – 22
Smart Electric Drive 3.3 11
Tesla Models S & X 10-20 29-58

Solar charging your electric car at home – how to do it

Solar charging your electric car at home or work is feasible overnight. You capture solar during the day and sell it to the electricity supplier and then draw it back to charge at night. AGL (in NSW) offers 20 cents per kilowatt/hour (two-year contract). That price is only slightly less than buying it back off-peak.

Most Australian suppliers charge about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour (off-peak). Using grid power thus costs only a dollar or two to commute. This is far less than for petrol-fuelled cars. Most use about 7 litres per 100 km. That typically costs (in June 2019) about $9/day.

You may also need an electric charging point. Furthermore, another meter may be needed for the car charging tariff however that can be set up by your electrical contractor.

Electric cars can be charged on economy electricity tariffs. Moreover, you save money by switching to such a tariff for charging overnight. You need, however, to install a dedicated charging point. Ypu cannot legally use a standard electrical power point.

You can reduce costs much further if you charge from a solar PV system. Furthermore, this also reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

Dealers may include a home charging assessment or an electrician’s advice in the car’s price.

Solar charging your electric car at home – set-up costs

The cost of charging from grid power varies with price tariffs and charging options. Compare tariffs for such charging. Sell solar captured during daylight. Then charge your electric car all night at off-peak rates.

Charging your car via an economy tariff requires a dedicated charging point. This costs about A$1,750. A basic electric car charging unit costs about A$500. More advanced such units cost up to A$2500. A licensed electrical contractor will advise re this. If your charging rate exceeds fuse or circuit breaker rating, they must be upgraded. The cost is not high.

Charging at public outlets

Fast and super-fast chargers charge at up to 135 kW. They fully recharge an electric vehicle battery in 30 minutes. Owners use these only during long drives. They rely on routine charging at home and at work. Electric car vendors also have charging services.

Fast charging facilities exist around Australia. They are even across the Nullabor Plain. See: Charge Stations in Australia (https://myelectriccar.com.au/charge-stations-in-australia). Or ChargePoint. Prices vary from state to state etc.

Electric Vehicle Battery Life

Battery technology is changing fast.  Currently, most vehicle batteries’ life depends on their routine depth of discharge. Fully charge the batteries each night and they will live longer.

Currently, most car makers guarantee batteries for eight years. Nissan’s allows for 160,000 km and capacity loss for 5 years or 96,500 km. Australians typically drive 14,000 kilometres a year, necessitating then to replace the battery every eight years. Outright failure, however, is improbable. 

Footnote

Many existing grid-connect solar systems have excess capacity. Daytime solar can be re-drawn to charge at off-peak rates. Many owners already do this. They typically use a three-phase charger. Such charging permits charging overnight with occasional top-ups as required. It also extends battery life: all dislike ongoing deep discharging.

Summary

It is already totally feasible to charge cars from home and office solar. It is done by many owners right now. This website will shortly have more specific details.

Please see also our associated website rvbooks.com.au. It has a major section covering all aspects of electric vehicles.

The Electric Vehicle Series

This is a part of a series of articles about the history and technology involved in electric vehicles.  

Clicking on each item will take you automatically to the site and article.

1. Why the Move to Electric Vehicles
2. Electric Vehicle History
3. Electric Vehicle – Energy Use
4. Electric Vehicle Hybrids
5. Electric Vehicle – Thermodynamic Efficiency
6. Electric Vehicle Batteries
7. Electric Vehicle Charging
8. Electric Vehicle Charging via Solar
9. Electric Vehicle Motors

Books by Collyn Rivers

While you’re here, have a look at a few of the books on offer. Click on any book to find out more.

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