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Does charging my electric vehicle with solar power make my EV greener?

ev charger solarMaking Your new Electric Vehicle Even More Green

You’re pretty proud of that new Electric Vehicle (EV). It feels great to stop adding to the world’s climate crisis now that you no longer need to fill up with fossil fuel. But for most, it’s not a complete green “win”. If you’re passing the gas station and charging your EV at home, chances are the electricity you’re using was generated with…fossil fuels. While you’ve taken steps to reduce your carbon footprint, there is still a footprint there because of the source of the electricity you use to charge your carbon-free vehicle.

In Michigan, a little over 61 percent of the electricity you use was generated by burning coal, natural gas, or fuel oil. The rest comes from other sources including hydro, wind or solar power. Installing solar panels on your home reduces your dependence on those nonrenewable sources. Taking the next step in reducing your carbon footprint should include using your home solar installation to charge your EV.

Skip the Fossil Fuels and Charge Your EV with Solar

Just that simple, right? Well, yes and no. There are initial costs to any solar installation, adding a solar power EV charger adds to the cost. The good news is the long-term savings you’ll see in your electricity bill are now extended to fueling your new EV. As electricity and gas prices rise, the cost of running your home and your vehicle will remain stable.

To take advantage of the power you’re generating with solar panels, you’ll need the right equipment. To make sure you have the right equipment, you’ll need to know the following:

  • Can your home’s electrical system handle the additional load?
  • What does your vehicle’s battery require?
  • How far do you drive on an average day?
  • How quickly do you need to recharge your battery?

Choose the Correct Size EV Charger for Your Needs

Most EVs being produced today come with what is known as a Level 1 charger. This charger plugs into your standard 110-volt outlet. Using grid power alone, a Level 1 charger could take up to 12 hours to charge your EV enough to drive its full range. Plugged into a small solar electric system generating 3 kilowatts of electricity, it could take days to charge the EV completely. There are better and more efficient alternatives.

A Level 2 charger can bring an EV battery up to capacity at least three times faster than Level 1 chargers. Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt connection (like your electric dryer or air conditioner) and depending on the installation and your EV’s battery capacity could give you a 40-mile range in about an hour, whereas the Level 1 charger would give you about 10 miles of range in the same period of time.
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Once you know your vehicle’s needs, you can configure your home solar system to meet the needs of your home as well as your EV. There are a number of ways to go with the actual configuration. This will depend on the size of your solar installation, how much power your home consumes of the power you generate, and whether you want to be completely net-zero.

If you are connected to the electricity grid and you generate more solar power than you are using, that excess solar power is pushed back over to the grid and is “stored” for your use when you are not generating power, for example at night, or during the winter when there your system is generating less solar power. Plugging your solar powered EV charger into a Level 2 charger that is plugged or hard-wired into your home’s grid becomes one of the things in your home, such as lights or appliances that are consuming that power, reducing the amount “stored” for later use.

Add Battery Backup and Eco-Smart Technology to Optimize Your System
Optimizing the solar power you have available for your EV and your home can be accomplished by including a home battery backup. A backup battery stores excess power during the day for use at other times. A backup battery could be configured to provide electricity to your home, as well as your EV. One of the highest-rated Level 2 EV charger manufacturers, WallBox is now introducing technology (Eco-Smart) that senses power use in your home as well as the needs of your EV and automatically mixes the output from your solar-charged home battery and the grid to make sure all your power needs are met as economically as possible.

The Experts at Michigan Solar Solutions can advise you on the perfect solar charging system for your EV. Michigan Solar Solutions is a commercial and residential solar installer and electricity contractor serving Michigan’s lower peninsula. We have been creating healthier, more energy-efficient and earth-friendly living spaces for fifteen years. Contact us today for a free consultation on making your home and your Electric Vehicle carbon-free.

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