Solar EV Charging: A Guide - We Power Your Car
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Solar EV Charging: A Guide

A Guide to Solar EV Charging

Solar EV charging may seem like something of the future, but did you know it’s possible now?

But what do I need to be able to charge my EV with solar energy? When can I charge my EV with solar? Why should I invest in a solar-compatible home charger?

Don’t fret – we’ll cover everything you need to know about solar EV charging in this guide.

woman's hand charging electric car with charger

What are the advantages of charging your electric car with solar?

  • Clean, green energy

As an electric vehicle driver, you’ll be aware of the environmental benefits of EVs over petrol and diesel cars – perhaps this was one of the reasons you switched to electric! But by charging with solar, you can reduce your carbon footprint even further, given that it’s a renewable, cleaner, and greener energy source.

  • Cheaper Energy

Using solar panels to charge your EV is undoubtedly cheaper than solely using electricity from the National Grid. So beat increasing energy prices and save money by charging your EV with the free solar electricity you have generated!

  • Add value to your house

Not only does a home EV charging point add value to your house, but with the addition of solar panels and a solar-compatible EV charger, your house’s value will skyrocket!

Solar Panels on House

What do you need at home to charge your EV with solar?

  • A solar PV system (including solar panels and an inverter)
  • An electric car
  • A dedicated smart home EV charger on your property (with solar charging capabilities)

Additional extras:

  • Battery Storage (this is not essential)

How do home solar PV systems work in general? And how do they work with smart home EV chargers?

  1. Your solar panels (made from photovoltaic cells) absorb sunlight and convert the energy into DC electricity (direct current)
  2. Your inverter (part of your solar PV system) will convert the DC electricity generated from your solar panels into AC electricity (AC, or alternating current, is used to power UK households)
  3. The converted AC electricity travels to your distribution board and is spread throughout your home, powering your appliances! If excess power is produced, it will be fed back into the National Grid unless you have battery storage
  4. If you have a solar compatible smart home charger, the unit will use the converted electricity to charge your EV

When can I charge my EV with solar energy?

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be sunny to generate solar energy (although it helps!). In fact, solar power will be produced whenever there is light, not specifically when the sun is shining. So, even in rain or when clouds are partially blocked, you can still charge with solar. That said, the sunnier the weather, the more electricity will be generated.

You won’t be able to charge your EV with solar at night unless you have a battery storage system (don’t worry – there will be more on this later in the blog). Moreover, solar panels may not generate any power in certain weather conditions. For example, if heavy snow blankets your solar panels, or they are covered in any way, your solar PV system will not generate electricity, and you won’t be able to charge your EV.

How long will it take to charge my EV with solar?

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. There are a number of factors that play a part in the charging speed, including the size of your EV’s battery, how many solar panels you have, and how much solar electricity you produce. Suppose that you have over ten solar panels on your house, it’s a bright, sunny day, and your EV’s battery is only small; you will likely charge significantly faster than if it’s a cloudy day, you only have a few solar panels and your EV has a large battery.

Can any electric vehicle be charged with solar?

Yes, any electric vehicle can be charged with solar as long as you have the correct equipment (solar PV system and solar EV charger) – you don’t need a specific EV.

Do I need a specific solar PV system to work with an EV charger?

No, any solar PV system (as long as they include solar panels and an inverter) will work with all our smart solar chargers – you don’t need to invest in any specific infrastructure.

What is battery storage?

First and foremost, battery storage does what it says on the tin – it’s a battery that stores excess energy inside, such as electricity generated from solar and wind. You can then use this saved energy at a later date instead of it being fed back into the National Grid.

For instance, you could store excess solar energy in your battery store that was harnessed during the day and then utilise that energy to charge your EV during the night (when you wouldn’t otherwise be able to charge with solar power). One of the most popular battery stores is the Tesla Powerwall.

Do I need a battery storage system to charge my EV with solar?

In terms of home solar EV charging, the answer is no – you don’t need battery storage for it to work. With all the solar-compatible EV chargers, you can simply plug your EV in when your PV system is generating solar energy, and your EV will charge.

There are benefits to battery storage, though. For example, as previously mentioned, you cannot charge during the night with solar. So, to ensure the lowest carbon charging method, or if your preferred charging time is in the evening, you could save solar energy in a battery store and then use it at night. Alternatively, you could charge your battery storage with electricity generated from your solar panels every day, even when you don’t need to top up your EV. You could then use the saved energy when you desperately need to fully charge on another day. By storing excess energy, you decrease dependency on the Grid and become more self-sufficient too.

It’s also important to note that the amount of electricity generated by solar depends on several factors, including the weather and how many solar panels you have installed on your property. On average, most solar PV systems don’t produce enough solar to charge a whole UK house, let alone to fully charge an EV on top of that. With this in mind, you will likely use a mixture of solar and energy from the Grid to charge your car anyway, unless you save excess solar in battery storage.

On the other hand, some solar-compatible home EV chargers can’t coordinate with battery storage, meaning you would only charge when plugged in and the sun is out. Battery storage can also be an expensive investment.

All in all, it’s a personal preference as to whether you invest in battery storage.

Do I need a specific smart home charger for solar?

To charge your EV, you will need a solar-compatible smart home charger.

Solar compatible means it has solar integration. However, if the unit is solar compatible, you will usually need to purchase an add-on to be able to charge with solar. If an EV charger says solar ready, it means the unit is capable of charging your EV on its own, and an add-on isn’t needed for it to do so.

Whilst the basics of solar functionality remain the same for most integrated solar units, some have different functioning features. Let’s get into a few:

Zappi

The Zappi is the most well-known solar electric vehicle charger on the market to date, given that it was the first solar EV charger of its kind.

It has different charging modes for you to choose from – Eco Charging, Eco + Charging and Fast Charging. You can choose to charge solely from the Grid, charge with 100% solar energy, or a mixture of both. In Eco + mode, the Zappi will even monitor your house usage and adjust charging speed accordingly.

The Zappi is an intelligent unit capable of not only utilising solar energy to charge your EV, but also converting wind-generated energy into electricity too, which can then be used to charge your EV. With the Eddi, your Zappi can even divert excess solar energy back into your heating systems.

However, in order to get the most out of the Zappi’s unique software, you would need to invest in the complete family of Zappi products – the Zappi, the Eddi and the Harvi.

Can the Zappi draw from battery storage?

Yes, the Zappi can draw directly from solar and from battery storage.

My Energi Zappi Solar Charger on Wall

Hypervolt Home 2.0

The Hypervolt app lets you choose how you charge your EV with the Hypervolt Home 2.0. Similarly to the Zappi, three charging functions are available – Super-Eco, Eco and Boost. So you can decide just how much solar energy or electricity from the Grid you would like to use (as long as there’s over 1.4kW of solar available!). This stylish unit comes solar ready so you don’t need to purchase an additional add-on.

Can the Hypervolt Home 2.0 draw from battery storage?

No. Unfortunately, the Hypervolt Home 2.0 can only charge your EV when solar energy is being produced there and then by your solar PV system. The unit can’t draw from battery storage.

VCHRGD Seven

The VCHRGD Seven is solar-ready, meaning the unit is compatible with solar from the get-go, and an additional add-on is not needed.

The solar aspect of the VCHRGD is simple, as it automatically charges with solar if/when available (and plugged in!). There’s no specific functionality to the VCHRGD solar feature, meaning you don’t have to programme or select a charging mode on the app or unit. It will simply charge when solar electricity is generated.

Can the VCHRGD Seven draw from battery storage?

Yes, the Seven can draw directly from solar and from battery storage.

Are solar EV chargers worth it?

The benefits – cheaper and cleaner energy – make investing in a solar charger worthwhile. Moreover, except for the Zappi, you wouldn’t need to break the bank by choosing a home EV charger with solar capabilities over one that doesn’t. Why? Because typically, EV chargers with solar integration are around the same price as others without (for example, the VCHRGD Seven and Hypervolt Home 2.0).

To fully access everything the Zappi has to offer, you would need to invest in their range of products, such as the Eddi and the Harvi, which add up quickly! So, unless you are wanting to charge with wind-generated power or you want to divert excess energy back into your heating systems, other solar chargers will do the job at a cheaper cost.

Of course, you’ll need a solar PV system at home for solar EV charging to work! Therefore, if you don’t have a solar PV system, it would be a hefty investment and need further deliberation. That being said, by investing in a solar unit for the same price, you are guaranteed a future-proof unit, so if you decide to invest in solar panels in the future, you are good to go!

Interested in a home solar EV charger?

Contact us today, and we will find you your perfect solar match. Or check out our solar-ready EV chargers – the Hypervolt Home 2.0 and the VCHRGD Seven.

If you don’t know where to start and prefer to speak to someone directly, call us on 03333 44 96 99. Our expert customer service team are always happy to help.

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This type of electric charger has it's own cable to charge your car.

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This type of electric charger requires a seperate cable to charge your car.

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Underground cable

We lay SWA cable laid at 600mm deep, with a protective cable warning tape laid 150mm above the cable. These are laid on a sand or sifted sand soil bed then backfilled.

Overhead cable

We position overhead cables at a minimum height of 3.5m and are run along a catenary wire. The cable run should not be accessible to vehicles.

Standard Installation
Our instant price is fixed if it falls within our standard installation package plus any additions that you have selected (extra cabling for example). This package covers the majority of homes in the UK. Before we undertake your installation we will carry out a digital survey to check that nothing has been missed. After reviewing the survey results some additional work may be required in order to complete your installation safely and to the required standards. If this is the case, we will contact you well before the installation date and advise the cost of any required work. You can then continue with your installation, or alternatively we will refund you in full if you do not want to proceed.

Included in our standard installation is :
• Fitting of a single phase charge point to a brick or plaster wall or other suitable permanent structure
• Up to 10 metres of cable, run and neatly clipped to the wall between the electricity supply meter / distribution board and the charge point.
• Routing of the cable through a drilled hole in a wall up to 500mm (20 inches) thick if this is needed.
• The fitting and testing of electrical connections and protections required for the charge point.
• An additional three way consumer unit, if required
• Installation of a Type A RCBO in an RCBO enclosure
• Up to 3 metres of plastic trunking to conceal interior wiring.
• An O-pen earth protection device if the charge point requires it. (This is NOT an earth rod)
• Up to 4 hours of labour from your installer to complete the work.
• Electrical testing of the whole installation.
• Handover and setup of the charge point and any app that may be needed.

Not included in our standard installation (additional work) :
• Where the installation requires additional cabling over and above the amount you have told us about.
• Upgrade/replacement of the main incoming supply fuse where the local DNO (eg Northern Powergrid) would need to attend site.
• If the charge point is to be mounted on a post/pedestal rather than an existing wall and where you have not selected a post as an extra cost option in your order.
• Installation of a charge point to a three phase supply.
• Where gas and water mains bonding (earthing) is not in place at your property. If this is not in place, additional work would be required before installation of the charge point.
• Any groundwork that has not been selected during the order process.

What else you need to know :
• On the day of installation, please ensure that the area around your consumer unit (fuse box), incoming electricity supply meter and proposed charge point location (including where the cable is expected to be run) is clear and free of obstructions.
• We will need your WiFi password as part of the installation process in order to connect your charge point to the internet. Please have this available for the installer. Details will not be kept.
• The charge point must be on your own designated off road parking.
• The charger will be fixed in line with current guidelines at a height where it cannot be hit by a vehicle.
• Our installers are not able to enter loft spaces; lift floorboards or flooring; take apart any furniture of work above a height of 2m. If you anticipate that any of this may be required, then please contact us and we can discuss in more detail and provide you with a quotation.
• Should there be extreme weather conditions our installers may not be able to continue with you installation if it is not safe to do so (for example flooding). They will always do their best to complete the work where they can.

If you have any questions then please contact our customer service team who will be happy to help. Please also read our terms and conditions.