Can You Charge a Tesla with Portable Solar Panels?
It’s 2020, and electric vehicle sales are booming. People are looking for the most efficient and cost-effective ways to charge their automobiles while on the move, a regularly debated option being the use of portable solar panels. We have dived into the information and crunched the numbers to answer the burning question – Can you charge a Tesla with portable solar panels?
Technically speaking it is possible to charge an electric vehicle such as a Tesla using any size solar panel. But it is not practical to use portable solar panels to do so. Electric vehicles use a lot of energy, considerably more than a single portable solar panel can create in over 100 days of glaring sunshine. You would need a substantial number of panels and uninterrupted sunlight to get your car moving again.
There is a lot more to know about this question, so we have done the math to provide concrete evidence in this post! Keep reading as we break down the numbers and analyze the possibility of portable solar charging for Tesla EV’s.
Getting to know your portable solar panel
There are three main factors that will determine the energy output of your portable panel: panel size, material and amount of sunshine. The average portable solar panel on the market today will have a maximum output of between 150-200 watts.
Electrical energy is commonly measured in kilowatt-hours, this being a composite unit equal to the power consumption of one thousand watts for one hour.
Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) = Watts x Time (hrs) / 1000
So if you have a 200W panel in 7 hours of sunlight it will generate 1.4 kWh (kilowatt hour) – it is important to keep in mind that this is the optimum output in direct midday sunlight, most panels will have an efficiency rating of ~20% making the output considerably less.
Furthermore, solar panels produce DC (direct current) and a Tesla charging port accepts AC (alternating current). This means you must also carry an inverter to convert DC to AC, allowing for further voltage loss and less efficiency.
What does this maths mean in reality?
We understand that math is scary, but stick with us!
With modern Tesla’s featuring battery capacities of 100 kWh, the output from one panel in one day will charge your vehicle enough to travel just 3 miles. In reality it would be a lot less than this, as it is impossible to guarantee 7 hours of uninterrupted sunshine. A little more math and you will find that one week of continuous charging will give you only 20 miles.
It is clear that charging a Tesla with just one panel is not an option – the output is nowhere near enough to power the energy use required to move an electric vehicle.
Can you use multiple portable panels?
Multiple solar panels can be connected to form what is known as a solar array, which works as one system to generate a higher output of energy.
Depending on what part of the world you’re located in, you will be receiving differing amounts of sunlight. For arguments sake let’s pretend we are in the USA, where on average there will be ~7 hours of sunlight per day.
To completely charge your Tesla battery from 0% to 100% using nothing but portable solar panels, you would need an array of 75 perfectly efficient PV modules in continuous midday sunlight for 7 hours. This is an obscene number of panels in impossible conditions.
The practicalities of charging a Tesla with portable solar panels
As we stated at the beginning of this article, it is certainly possible to charge your Tesla using portable solar panels. However, there are a multitude of factors we now must consider answering why it is not a viable option (yet).
Our calculations may be a bit generous
All these calculations have been extremely generous with the energy output of the panels. Solar panels do not produce a continuous amount of energy from dawn to dusk.
High noon is obviously where maximum output is achieved and all hours before and after this will generate a fluctuating amount of power.
As previously mentioned, low panel efficiency and voltage drop from the inversion process further adds to this loss of energy.
This reveals that achieving a full charge (0% – 100%) in one day using portable solar panels is impossible.
Transporting the “portable” solar array
We know it will take a vast number of panels to charge your Tesla, so how do we make this portable?
The only way would be to tow your panels in a trailer behind your vehicle (which in turn would decrease the range of your vehicle due to increased weight).
An important note – no model of Tesla vehicles come with a tow bar so custom additions would need to be made.
Area of panels required
When panels are connected, they form what is known as a string. Multiple strings form an array. Now, these strings are no longer acting as individual panels but as one unit, and if one panel becomes shaded the entire string is affected.
Therefore, to charge your Tesla with these portable panels, an extremely large unshaded area is required. And unless you are carrying an axe or willing to trespass on private farmland, you may struggle to find such a space.
Complicated set up
It is important to remember that with a high number of panels, dangerously high voltage is involved.
There is also the tedious process of setting up and plugging in 75 individual panels. The DC cabling and an inverter must also be set up correctly to ensure the safe conversion of power into your Tesla. If you are not a trained electrician this will prove to be an extremely daunting task and by the time you complete the setup, you will most likely have lost hours of valuable sunlight!
Furthermore, unless you are charging your Tesla on the equator, your panels must be angled correctly (in relation to your longitude and latitude) to achieve optimum efficiency. This will require a structural frame if your chosen brand of panels are not self-supporting.
Now, as if by some form of miracle you have managed to set up your array, you are in for a 7-hour wait on the side of the road in (hopefully) scorching sunlight.
Nobody can guarantee a perfect climate and your panels will be susceptible to local weather such as Cloud cover, haze and atmospheric conditions. All these factors will decrease the energy output of your system.
With the price of 200W portable solar panels averaging upwards of USD200, you are looking at an overall cost of USD15,000 just for the panels. The additional need for a trailer, inverter, and cables will increase the final cost to over USD20,000.
It would be much wiser to use this money to install a large solar system on your house, which could power household devices and charge your Tesla (while parked at home). The panels that are installed on roofs have a much higher energy output than their portable cousins, and with the option to install batteries to store unused electricity this is undoubtedly the better decision.
What does Tesla say?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested in 2017 that the model 3 would come with a solar panel integrated into the roof of the vehicle. He later walked back on this statement admitting that it would be “not that helpful, because the actual surface of the car is not that much, and cars are often inside. The least efficient place to put solar is on the car.”
The engineering mogul has since confirmed, ahead of its 2021 release, that the much anticipated Cybertruck will have a deployable solar roof option, capable of adding 15 miles a day. Musk has also hinted at solar wings that will be able to fold out to further increase the mileage of the electric pickup truck.
With Tesla leading the charge of EVs it is exciting that they have now opened the door to integrated solar panels. This will inevitably start an “arms race” between other electric vehicle companies as they experiment and innovate to create solar charging options.
In the future?
Charging a Tesla with portable solar panels is simply not a practical option with current technology. The portable panels on today’s market do not yield enough energy to efficiently charge up an electric vehicle. The future is promising, however.
Solar panel technology is improving exponentially, efficiency is increasing while costs are decreasing. Nobody knows where solar tech will be in 20 years’ time, but the future certainly looks bright (no pun intended). With this improved efficiency, perhaps charging a Tesla with portable solar panels will become a viable option – we will just have to wait and see.
Lloyd Heathfield is a Biological Science graduate who has always had a passion for innovative technology, especially that of an environmental nature. Lloyd now works in the solar energy sector.
Most of us know that we need to act now on environmental issues. From climate change to biodiversity loss, it is clear these are some of the biggest challenges of our time. But in an ever polarised.
As I’m sure many of you did, I sat down to on Sunday evening to watch David Attenborough’s latest ‘last ever’ series Wild Isles (David it’s time to accept you will live till at least 150.
Hi I’m Rob. I’ve spent over 10 years working in the environmental sector, with the belief that innovation gives us the best chance of solving the biggest issues currently impacting the planet.
Explained: EV charging and Tesla charger options
Electric vehicle (EV) fanatics need no introduction to Tesla. Since 2003, Tesla has been an industry leader in the EV market with the company setting the standard for EV production across all fronts: vehicles, chargers, and charging stations.
A lot has been written about Tesla cars here and on other websites. But what about Tesla’s charging options–are they any good?
Let’s review all the charging options available to EV users and see how Tesla stacks up.
Find out how much it would cost to charge your Tesla with solar panels
How does EV charging work?
You plug things in to charge every day. your cell phone, your computer, a tablet. EV charging is similar to that. You plug in an EV so it can charge the battery in order for the car’s motor to run. EVs are powered by large battery packs that store DC energy.
High-speed chargers, which are found in public spaces. and not in homes. provide DC power. This is the most direct and fastest way to charge a battery: DC electricity flows from the charging station directly into the battery.
However, things are a bit different when it comes to charging an EV in a home. At your home, as with most places in general, you only have access to AC power. For this reason, all EVs are equipped with an on-board charger that converts the AC power that comes from the charger to DC power, so the energy can be stored in the battery. The conversion from AC to DC power adds some time to the charging process.
The size of the onboard charger also dictates how fast an EV will charge. All Teslas in 2022 have an 11.5 kW onboard charger, except the Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive RWD), which has a 7.7 kW onboard charger. That means that the Model 3 RWD will accept AC electricity charging at a lower rate than all other Teslas.
EV charging options explained
You’ve probably heard wildly conflicting stories about how long it takes to charge an electric car. EV critics say it can take 20 hours to fully charge a battery, while electric car buffs will breathlessly tell you that Tesla Superchargers can add up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
So how long does charging actually take? Well, actual charging speeds depend on a few different factors: the charging equipment, sometimes called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), the power source, and the EV’s own onboard charging capacity.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. charging options are divided into three broad categories:
Level 1 charger (120-volt)
You can consider Level 1 charging as the default EV charging option. It works on all-electric vehicles and at all places with a standard power outlet. Level 1 charging equipment is included with every EV.
With Level 1 charging, all you do is plug your EV into a standard 120-volt AC wall outlet. This is the same kind of outlet you plug your laptop or phone charger into. Easy.
The problem with Level 1 EV charging is that it’s slow – very slow. They are typically powered at a measly 12 or 16 amps and provide just 2-6 miles of range per hour. Level 1 is the lowest charging option available and is often referred to as “trickle charging”.
Level 2 charger (240-volt)
For faster charging, homeowners can upgrade to Level 2 chargers. These use a 240-volt power outlet, the same as those used by air conditioners or clothes dryers.
Level 2 charging is a lot faster than Level 1 charging, providing 14 to 35 miles of range per hour by taking advantage of the circuit’s higher amperage. These charging cords are traditionally sold as a separate add-on for your EV.
Some homes might not have a 240-volt outlet, so you may need to work with an electrician to get one set up. You’ll want to ensure that the circuit supports a high enough amperage to allow your charge to operate at its peak output to charge your car as fast as possible.
For pretty much every EV brand except Tesla, Level 2 chargers use a J1772 port. Tesla has their own Level 2 charging port, however, all Tesla’s come with a J1772 adaptor for charging. So, all EVs should be able to take advantage of most public Level 2 charging stations.
Find out how much you can save with solar
DC charger (aka “Level 3 charger”) (480 volts)
Unlike the first two options which use residential AC current, DC fast chargers (often called Level 3 chargers) use – you guessed it – DC current.
Because Level 3 chargers provide DC current, they bypass the on-board charger and directly charge the EV’s battery. This allows for very fast charging speeds: they can provide 100 miles of range per hour or more.
While Level 3 chargers are fast, manufacturers warn that you should not rely on them as your main charging source. The large amount of power that fast-charging stations use can damage your EV battery’s health, and potentially shorten its lifespan. It’s recommended to only use fast-charging if you need it for long-distance travel or if you are pressed for time.
Level 3 chargers are not feasible for home use, as they require special utility connections, hardware, wiring, and permits. They also have extremely high setup and energy costs. You’ll only find Level 3 DC charging stations along highways or in other public areas.
Before you stop at a Level 3 charging station, make sure that the station is compatible with your EV’s charging port. There are 3 different connectors used by Level 3 chargers:
- SAE Combo connectors. work with BMW, Volkswagen, and Chevy EVs
- CHAdeMO connectors. work with Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Kia EVs
- Tesla Supercharger connectors. work exclusively with Tesla vehicles
What Tesla charger options are available?
When you buy a Tesla car, you will have two home charging options: The Tesla Mobile Connector and the Tesla Wall Connector. Let’s take a look at each of these Tesla charger options.
Tesla Mobile Connector
The Tesla Mobile Connector comes standard with all-new Teslas. The Mobile Connector comes with an adapter for a standard 120-volt (NEMA 5-15) outlet and serves as a Level 1 charger. On its own, this is a very slow option, and is not adequate for regular use: you will only get about 3 miles of range per hour on a Model 3. As the name suggests, it is portable: it can easily be wrapped up and used as a mobile backup for charging on the go.
To get faster charging, you can purchase a Gen 2 NEMA adapter for Tesla’s Mobile Connector for about 35-45, which allows it to be plugged into a 240-volt (NEMA 14-50) outlet. With the NEMA 14-50 adapter attached, your humble Level 1 Mobile Connector is transformed into a Level 2 charger.
When operating as a Level 2 charger on a 50 amp breaker, the mobile charger can provide a Model 3 with up to 30 miles of range per hour.
Many drivers will find this rate of charging sufficient, especially if they can leave their cars to charge overnight.
In short, as long as they have the additional adapter attachment, Tesla owners who use their cars for short commutes will probably find the Mobile Connector perfectly adequate for their needs.
Tesla Wall Connector
The Wall Connector is the charging option that Tesla recommends as the best home-charging tool for Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y. The Wall Connector is a hard-wired setup that is easy to use, suitable for outdoor installations, and charges faster than the Mobile Connector that comes with each Tesla.
Tesla’s Wall Connector is considered a Level 2 charger. It uses a 240-volt power supply and, depending on the Tesla model, works best on a 60 or 40 amp circuit breaker. The Wall Connector is slightly more powerful than the Wall Connector with the NEMA 14-50 adapter, as it provides up to 44 miles of range per hour of charging (Tesla does not provide exact figures by model).
The catch is that the Wall Connector does not come standard with Tesla vehicles. You will have to shell out 550 to buy it from Tesla, and then spend a bit more to have an electrician install it for you. You may also have to pay for the installation of a 240-volt power source with sufficient amperage to power the Wall Connector.
Given that the Tesla Mobile Connector, when connected with a 35-45 Gen 2 NEMA adapter, provides 30 miles of range to a Model 3, shelling out all that money for ‘up to 44 miles of range’ may not be worth the additional cost.
For a detailed explanation of what goes into the cost of charging a Tesla, check out the video below:
Are Tesla chargers the best option for my EV?
The Mobile Connector included with all Tesla vehicles is one of the best charging options that come with an EV. It can be turned into a more powerful Level 2 charger with the purchase of a 35 adapter. Most other EVs do not offer similar adapters to transform their Level 1 chargers.
However, it is probably not worth it for owners of non-Tesla EVs to go out of their way to purchase a Tesla Mobile Connector. The Mobile Connector kit costs 275 on its own. For that price, EV owners could purchase a Level 2 charging cable from the manufacturer of their EV, which guarantees that it will be compatible with their vehicle.
When it comes to the Wall Connector, there’s much less to differentiate it from comparable third-party offerings such as those from Clipper Creek.
Rather than worrying about the brand, FOCUS more on your own energy needs and which style of charging makes the most sense for you. Do you use your EV primarily for short commutes and not much else? The standard 120-volt charger included with your EV might be all you need. Do you need to have a full battery ready at all times? The extra speed and security of a 240-volt charging station might suit you better.
Where else can I charge my EV?
At-home charging is great, but what happens when your battery needs a boost while you’re on the go? Typically, you’ll see three options while on the road (one of which is limited to Tesla only):
Many towns and cities are adopting the EV charging trend. You’ll find small Level 2 plug-in stations at local grocery store parking lots, alongside street parking spots, and more. Download handy apps to find EV charging stations near you.
Public DC stations
Often situated alongside highways or other heavily-traveled routes, these Level 3 charging stations offer powerful charging options for those on the go that far outperform residential charging options. They allow you to quickly charge your car, so you can get back on the road.
Tesla Superchargers (Tesla DC fast charging)
Tesla has its own network of Supercharging stations that is exclusive for Tesla owners. These high-powered Level 3 charging stations can fill up a battery faster than any other charging option. often in as little as 90 minutes. If you own a Tesla, you can significantly reduce your travel charge time by planning routes around Superchargers.
Can I use solar power to charge my EV?
Yes, you can. This is a popular option, as it provides clean power for your clean vehicle, and helps to offset increased energy bills that come with owning and charging an electric-powered vehicle. There are two ways to do so: directly and indirectly.
The direct method is to set up a solar power system in your house and use it as source of charging power for your EV. For example, solar carports are becoming popular for homeowners who have space. Just as they sound, these installations involve placing solar panels above your carport to route electricity into an integrated EV charging station. It’s an efficient way to make use of your carport’s roof space.
The indirect – but more financially lucrative – option is to get solar panels for your entire home. In this case, you not only generate solar power for your car, but you produce enough to cover most – or even all – of your home’s energy needs. Excess solar power produced during the day can then be used to charge a solar battery like the Tesla Powerwall 2 or sent back to the grid for credits on your power bill through net metering.
Solar panels for homes already save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in most states. But the potential savings will be even higher if you have higher energy needs because of an EV.
Talk to a local solar installer to see how big a system your home and EV would require.
Tesla tops 40,000 Superchargers; new site to have four solar canopies
Tesla now has 40,000 Supercharger stations worldwide, and more are in the works, including a massive 88-stall facility in a small town in Arizona. @MarcoRPTesla, who has a knack for finding Supercharger plans, tweeted the detailed construction project. The drawings show 20 prefabricated Supercharger units, two trailer-friendly stalls, and four solar canopies.
Quartzsite, Arizona, with a population of 2,413, is the location of the huge Supercharging station. Incredibly, it is being built right across the road from a 36-stall Supercharger. So why is there now one Supercharger for every 20 people in Quartzsite? Interstate 10 runs through the small town, which is at the intersection of U.S. Route 95 and Arizona State Route 95 with I-10.
This location is approximately three and a half hours away from Las Vegas, Nevada, San Diego, California, and Los Angeles, California. It is also two hours from Phoenix, Arizona. Tourism is the main economic driver of the small town.
Tesla recently asked followers of its @TeslaCharging account to submit locations where Superchargers are needed. This location makes sense with the amount of traffic going through the area. It also has very little precipitation, which means those solar canopies will be powered up by the sun. That is another long-term vision of the company, to have solar and battery packs at Supercharging locations.
Also, the company plans to allow non-Teslas at its Supercharger locations. That alone will increase the demand at hubs like Quartzsite.
It’s hard to believe the Supercharger network was launched in 2012. A decade later, they are turning into a more common sight around the world. According to the company: Superchargers can add up to 200 miles (322 kilometres) of range in just 15 minutes.
In September, 420 Tesla projects were announced, including a 164-stall Supercharger hub on the I-5 corridor located in Coalinga, California. That will be the world’s largest Tesla Supercharger location. But that is nothing compared to reports of the largest EV charging location in the world, located in China’s hi-tech city of Shenzhen. There is an electric taxi charging station with a total of 637 fast chargers.
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Tesla Cybertruck Shown Off With Possible Ventilated Seats, Camera Cleaner and [Video]
The Petersen Automotive Museum’s inaugural Electrified Cars Coffee meet was memorable. Tesla’s much-anticipated Cybertruck rolled into the spotlight. The star-studded truck was helmed by none other than Tesla’s Chief Designer, Franz von Holzhausen. He drove the eye-catching electric pickup truck to the event and served as the host of Petersen’s first-ever EV-only Cruise-In.
Ventilated Seats and : Unveiling Cybertruck’s Interior Updates
As the electric vehicle community delved into the details, an intriguing feature stood out. the Cybertruck appeared to flaunt ventilated seats. Further, the vehicle’s fit and finish looked polished, suggesting that the Cybertruck seen at the event could be a near-final production model. Attendees also noticed a significant refinement in the truck’s fully constructed interior.
Redesigned ‘Vault’ and Other Noteworthy Exterior Details
The Cybertruck’s unique ‘vault’. its bed. appeared to have undergone some design tweaks. Observers noted the presence of a slot close to the tailgate, hinting at potential outlets in the truck bed. The charge port, a key element in any EV, was seen on the Cybertruck’s rear fender, departing from the original 2019 prototype design. The lighted Cybertruck logo replaces the traditional Tesla logo on the NACS port. a fun Easter egg for fans.
FOOKN CRAZYYYY! Another tonneau in action video, but also the tailgate dropping. Cybertruck is going to just be otherworldly @elonmusk @Tesla
Forward-Thinking Design for Optimum Functionality
The red-tinted cameras of the Cybertruck suggest that the vehicle will be armed with Tesla’s Hardware 4 computer and cameras, elevating its autonomous driving capabilities. Another eye-catching design detail was the front bumper camera equipped with an overhead slot, possibly designed to wash the sensor if it gets covered with dirt or mud.
As the EV community eagerly waits for the official rollout, these latest updates from the Petersen Automotive Museum event showcase the significant progress Cybertruck has made since its 2019 debut. These enhancements underline Tesla’s relentless pursuit of innovation, delivering more than expected while staying true to their unique design language.
The ventilated seats and revamped ‘vault’ are just a peek into what’s in store for future Cybertruck owners. They’re a testament to Tesla’s dedication to combining luxury, convenience, and sustainability in their vehicles. And with Franz von Holzhausen at the design helm, there’s no telling what other surprises may be in store as the Cybertruck gets closer to production.
A quick peek inside the Cybertruck as Franz drives it off piccom/Fly2XxWugP
— Ryan Zohoury (@RyanZohoury) June 25, 2023
A Close Look at Tesla’s Model Y as a Police Cruiser [Video]
When it comes to police vehicles, performance, reliability, and durability are non-negotiable. Recognizing the need for a more modern, sustainable solution, Model PD has converted Tesla’s Model Y into fully equipped, robust police cruisers.
According to Zack Wilson, a spokesperson for the company, they considered other electric vehicle manufacturers. Still, Tesla was the clear winner, stating, The reason we’re sticking with Tesla is that from what we’ve seen, Tesla is the only company that can meet the demand. Not only that. But the Model Y is the safest car on the planet.
The Model Y police cruiser sees a host of changes that elevate it from a sleek consumer vehicle to a reliable law enforcement workhorse. The typical glass roof has been replaced with a carbon fiber one, providing the strength required to house police lights and dome lights. Durability is a crucial factor here, with the interior upholstery being swapped out for a more resistant material to withstand the rigors of police work, including the wear and tear from handcuffs and guns.
A keyboard has been added to the bottom of the screen, and with one press of a button, the display will switch from the Tesla screen to a Windows interface for police officers to access law enforcement information.
To ensure the safe and secure transport of suspects, the back seats have been converted to a vinyl surface, complete with a plexiglass enclosure. In an interesting shift, the standard Tesla wheels have been replaced with traditional police steel wheels, topped off with Goodyear police-rated tires.
Outperforming the Competition
Compared to a traditional police vehicle such as the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, the Model PD’s Tesla Model Y-based cruiser presents some compelling advantages. The Model PD boasts an impressive 131/117 MPG equivalent in city/highway driving, compared to Ford’s 23/24 MPG. Additionally, it delivers a powerful 384 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, outshining Ford’s 285 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque.
The Tesla-based cruiser also offers significant savings in terms of operational costs. Based on 20,000 miles per year, the Model PD’s estimated annual electric cost is just 605, compared to a whopping 5,085 for fuel in the Ford. Furthermore, the estimated yearly maintenance cost for the Model PD is a modest 350, starkly contrasting the Ford’s 1,300.
The Future of Policing with Tesla
Model PD plans to expand its portfolio by converting Tesla Cybertruck into a police vehicle. If the Model PD’s transformation of Model Y is anything to go by, the Cybertruck could revolutionize policing in terms of resilience, functionality, and sustainability.
The Model PD’s transformation of the Tesla Model Y into a fully equipped police cruiser embodies a significant stride in the evolution of law enforcement vehicles. With its impressive performance stats, cost-efficiency, and commitment to sustainability, the Model PD shows that Tesla is not just meeting the demand. it’s shaping the future of policing.
The Costs Of Installing A Home Charger For Your Tesla
So, you’re getting a Tesla and you’re thinking now about how you’re going to charge it. Many Tesla owners don’t have the ability to charge at home and will have to rely on public chargers and perhaps workplace charging, but most owners will use some form of home charging. This could be from a dedicated Tesla home charger installation, or you might end up using a dryer outlet to charge your Tesla.
In this article, I’m going to run through a variety of Tesla home charger options and how much it costs to have them installed. This will include:
- Tesla Home Charging Options
- “Trickle charging” on a normal electricity outlet
- Faster charging on a 240V dryer outlet
- Charging two Teslas on one 240V outlet
- Installing a Tesla home charger
- Installing a Tesla Supercharger at your home (just kidding)
Option #1: Tesla Level 1 Home Charging
It seems appropriate to put the most basic “Level 1” charging option at #1. This involves just plugging your car into a normal 120V outlet — the same type you use to plug in your TV, computer, or lamp. There is no need to install anything with this option, so the setup cost is 0. You just plug your home Tesla charger into a wall outlet and then plug in your car when you want to charge.
This is commonly called “trickle charging” because you’re essentially just trickling electricity into the car at a very slow rate — about 3 to 4 miles per hour. For some owners, this is all they need. Others need to charge up more quickly between drives and decide to go with a Tesla-compatible “Level 2” charger installation or at least use a 240V dryer outlet to charge faster than on a 120V outlet.
The differences in speed between Level 1 and Level 2 charging for four different Tesla models. Image courtesy NeoCharge.
I personally use a normal Level 1 electricity outlet for my Tesla Model 3 SR, but I also seem to drive a bit less than the average American, I work from home (or anywhere), and I have free public Level 2 chargers and even a Tesla Supercharging station nearby — so it’s easy for me to get an extra, faster charge from time to time when I could use one. Charging needs depend on an individual’s circumstances, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! That said, data I’ve seen on the topic indicate that most Tesla drivers who have home charging use something stronger than Level 1 trickle charging.
Option #2: Use Dryer Outlet for Tesla
This is nearly as easy as option #1. Naturally, you need access to a 240V outlet (like a dryer outlet), not just a basic 120V electricity outlet. You also need a Tesla dryer adapter. Importantly, there are a variety of different plug types (NEMA 10-30, NEMA 14-30, NEMA 14-50, etc.) — a 240V outlet is not as uniform as a 120V plug. Luckily, you are not one of the first 100 Tesla buyers, and not even one of the first 100,000 Tesla buyers. With around 2 million Teslas now on the road, we’re hitting a scale where even these types of quirks and product needs have been solved and made simple. For example, you can go here to find the exact 240 volt outlet splitter you need to share your dryer outlet for Tesla level 2 charging for your dryer/electricity outlet.
There are a few things that I absolutely love about this option.
First of all, the quicker charging speed relative to 120V charging is notable, and it can be super helpful or even critical for some people’s charging and driving needs. Instead of adding 3 to 4 miles of driving range per hour, you can add 15 to 30 miles per hour. As I noted above, I use 120V trickle charging for my Model 3, but that’s because I don’t have a 240V outlet in my garage or anywhere near it. If I had a 240V outlet, no doubt about it, I’d use that outlet to charge my Model 3 SR.
The NeoCharge Smart Splitter in a 240V outlet, an EV circuit splitter that allows Tesla owners to share their dryer outlet with their Tesla. Image courtesy NeoCharge.
Secondly, even if your 240V outlet is already in use, you can add a Tesla charging station to it via the NeoCharge Smart Splitter. Yes, a dryer (or other appliance) and a Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Model S, or Model X can share a dryer plug to get faster charging. In fact, its splitter is Smart enough that when both your dryer and Tesla are plugged in, whenever you need to use your dryer, the Smart Splitter will automatically pause your Tesla charging and will resume when the dryer is finished. It’s self-installable in minutes and you can use your Tesla Mobile Connector that your Teslacar comes with.
Cost: 0 if you have a free dryer outlet, 499 for the NeoCharge Smart Splitter.
Option #3: Charge Two Teslas on One Outlet
Continuing on the topic of using a 240V electricity outlet, if the outlet is in use because you already have an electric car and have a Level 2 charging station plugged into it, you can use the 240V NeoCharge Smart Splitter to put another charging station (two in total) on the same outlet. Then you can choose to charge both of your EVs at the same time at half power.
Importantly, there’s no Tesla home charger installation cost with this option! The cost of a Tesla charger installation is not cheap. Additionally, if you get a charger installed, you may need to upgrade your electric panel capacity, which can add a couple thousand more dollars to the cost. If you can pop a Smart Splitter into an existing outlet and avoid both charger installation costs and a potential electricity panel upgrade, then you can potentially save a lot of money.
Cost: The NeoCharge Smart Splitter costs 449.
The NeoCharge Smart Splitter in a 240V dryer outlet, this device allows Tesla owners to charge two Teslas simultaneously without expensive installations or panel upgrades. Image courtesy NeoCharge.
Option #4: Install Tesla Charger in Garage
As already noted, choosing to install a Level 2 Tesla charger in your garage is the highest cost option of this trio. It is something that many Tesla owners do, though. Tesla charger installation cost can vary greatly depending on the layout of your garage, the existing power capacity of your home, the wiring work that’s needed, and your regional market (the cost of living, and thus of electrician services, is different in Silicon Valley than it is in a small rural town).
Nonetheless, answering the question of how much it costs to install a Tesla charger as broadly and usefully as possible, in general, a Tesla charger installation typically costs somewhere between 1000 and 7000. That is just the installation cost, not including the cost of the Tesla charger itself. (Of course, in some cases, extra complicated or difficult installs could cost thousands more. There are surely some wild and interesting edge cases out there.)
A 500 Tesla home charger can add up to 44 miles per hour (70 km per hour) to your car’s driving range, but that will again depend on your electricity panel, wiring, and model.
The Cost Of Installing A Tesla Level 2 Charging Station
So, if you want to go all the way and install a Tesla home charging station in your garage, that’s likely to come at a cost of 1000 to 7000. That includes 500 for the Tesla home charger and another 500 to 6500 in installation costs, depending on the home’s existing power capacity and wiring.
Why the big differences in overall cost? First of all, there’s regional variation for these sorts of costs. In some areas, an electrician will cost notably more than in other areas. Also, depending on the location and capacity of your electricity panel and your wiring needs to get from the panel to the electricity outlet location, installation costs will be higher or lower. If you need a lot of wiring, expect a higher cost.
The Cost Of Semi-Fast Charging with 240V Outlet
Being a good middle option on both speed and cost, many Tesla owners will simply use a 240V outlet. By hooking up to a 240V outlet, you can skip expensive wiring and installation costs. If you have a free outlet, no extra charge is needed. If your 240V outlet is already in use, though, and you don’t want to unplug and plug in whatever appliances are using it on a regular basis, you can get a Smart splitter for 499. You can also take advantage of the “Smart features” to track power usage, energy cost, and charge two electric cars on one outlet.
The Cost Of Trickle Charging
The cost to just trickle charge (not including the electricity itself) is again 0. To repeat, trickle charging is just plugging into the most common electricity outlet. Unless you need to add an electricity outlet at the place where you park (in which case it would probably make more sense to add a 240V outlet anyway), then there is no cost for this option.
Rebates Tax Credits
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that there are various utility rebates out there (even up to 50% of the cost of the charger as well as installation) and there’s the 30% federal tax credit available for EV charging stations and installation (up to 1000 combined).
What is an EV charging station? An EV charging station is a piece of equipment that connects to an electricity supply (either hardwired into the building or plugged into an outlet) and then also connects to an electric car to send that electricity into the car’s battery.
Do I need an EV charging station to charge a car? If you want to charge your electric car at home then yes. An EV charging station will charge your car faster, you can also just plug into a normal electricity outlet (120V or 240V) and charge that way.
Is a home EV charging station safe, or will it burn down my house? Home EV charging stations are mostly certified by safety regulation bodies to ensure an extremely high standard of safety. Many are Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Intertek (ETL) certified. Check a charger’s certification before purchasing to be sure.
Will charging my car at home make my electric bill explode? When you plug an electric car into a 120V electricity outlet or 240V outlet, it can’t pull more power than a computer or fridge or something else plugged into such an outlet. Only so much power can go through at a time. So, you don’t need to worry about a huge spike in electricity usage and something like super expensive peak demand charges. As far as total electricity cost, an electric powertrain is 3-4 times more efficient than a gasoline-based powertrain, so an EV driver uses much less total energy than a gas-car driver. In general, “fuel costs” when driving electric are much lower than fuel costs when driving a gas car.
How long does it take to charge an electric car? The amount of time it takes to charge a car depends on how much electricity you need to add and how quickly the electricity can flow into your car using the outlet or station you’re using. Without getting into the weeds of volts and amps and all that, the short story is that:
- Level 1 charging adds 3–4 miles per hour.
- Level 2 charging adds 15–45 miles per hour.
- Level 3 charging adds 100–300 miles per hour.
How do I install a Tesla charger? If you have a 240V outlet then you can share it with your Tesla Mobile Connector by using a NeoCharge Smart Splitter. Generally speaking, if you’re looking to hardwire a charger you should not try to install this on your own. A licensed electrician should be hired for this job.
This article is supported by NeoCharge.
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What to Know About Solar Power When Shopping for an Electric Vehicle
For anyone looking to save money and help save the planet, an electric vehicle charged with home solar power may be the perfect combination. If you own an EV, or you’re in the process of shopping for one, you’ve probably considered solar panels as a way of lowering your electricity expenses and using fewer fossil fuels. What could be better than charging your futuristic vehicle with the power of the sun?
In this guide, we’ll look at how much energy it takes to charge an electric vehicle, how long that charging process takes, and the number of solar panels you’d need to charge your EV with 100% solar energy.
What Is An Electric Vehicle?
An electric vehicle (EV) is any car, truck, or SUV that uses one or more electric motors and energy stored in a battery for propulsion, instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE) that runs off of fossil fuels. EVs use an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine and store energy with a battery instead of a gasoline tank.
The electric motors can work on their own, or be paired with a small internal combustion engine, which is called a hybrid vehicle. For this article, we will FOCUS on 100% electric vehicles, meaning they must be plugged into an electrical outlet to be charged.
How Much Energy Does It Take to Charge an Electric Vehicle?
The battery rating of an EV indicates the amount of power that it can store, which indicates how much power is required to fully charge it. This is typically measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh. To offer a better picture of available options, we’ve outlined common EV battery sizes below:
How Long Does Electric Vehicle Charging Take?
Several variables come into play when answering the question, “How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?” The brand, make, and model of both the vehicle and the at-home electric car charger can all make a difference in the charge time for your electric vehicle. If you factor in the amount of time it takes for a battery to reach full capacity, you also have to consider the battery level at the time charging begins, and the total capacity of the battery itself.
Two traditional home charging options use AC electricity: Level 1 and Level 2 electric vehicle home charging stations:
- Level 1 is a 120v charger, and it can charge at a maximum of 1.9 kW, which means they can add about 5 miles of range per hour of charging time. Since it’s a 120v system, you plug these into regular outlets, like any other device.
- Level 2 is a 240v charger, and it can charge at a maximum of 19.2 kW, which means they can add about 25 miles of range per hour of charging time. Because it’s a 240v system, you need a special outlet, similar to what’s used for clothes dryers, ranges, and other large appliances.
While Level 3 fast-charging options like the Tesla Supercharger use DC electricity and can add nearly 200 miles of range per hour of charging time, these chargers are primarily used in commercial settings, not residential, because of the amount and type of electricity they need, and the complexity of that charging technology.
Examples of Electric Vehicle Charging Times
To illustrate typical EV charging times, we’ve outlined the range for some of the most popular electric vehicles. The data below reflects the time it typically takes to fully charge a battery from empty for both types of electric car home charging stations, based on the average battery size for each vehicle:
120v Level 1 Charger
- Rivian R1T. Up to 100 hours
- Audi e-tron. Up to 50 hours
- Tesla Model S. Up to 53 hours
- Tesla Model X. Up to 53 hours
- Tesla Model Y. Up to 40 hours
- Tesla Model 3. Up to 44 hours
- Ford Mustang Mach-E. Up to 47 hours
- Chevrolet Bolt EV. Up to 35 hours
- Nissan Leaf. Up to 33 hours
240v Level 2 Charger
- Rivian R1T. 5 to 10 hours
- Audi e-tron. Up to 5 hours
- Tesla Model S. Up to 6 hours
- Tesla Model X. Up to 6 hours
- Tesla Model Y. Up to 4 hours
- Tesla Model 3. 3 to 5 hours
- Ford Mustang Mach-E. 3 to 5 hours
- Chevrolet Bolt EV. Up to 4 hours
- Nissan Leaf. 2 to 4 hours
Actual charging times for electric car charging at home may vary based on several factors including optional upgrades to the battery, charging conditions, and the vehicle’s driving range. Also, for the Level 2 charging specs, the time provided is based on the maximum power output of a Level 2 charger, but the actual output of the charger that comes with the vehicle may be less, which decreases the charge speed.
While the charging times may seem high, it’s important to note that EV owners usually do not charge from a completely dead battery to a completely full one, as it’s more common to charge in stages. If you only drive a few miles each day, an overnight charge on a Level 1 charger with a lower charge rate may be enough to keep your batteries topped off and ready to go.
How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Vehicle?
To calculate the number of solar panels you’ll need to charge your EV, you need to look at your daily driving patterns. Roughly speaking, the more you drive every day, the more you’ll deplete your battery between charges, and the more power you’ll need to recharge your battery to full again. In reality, most people only replenish what they need to make their daily commute and a little bit more for errands around town.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration calculated the average number of miles driven to be a little over 14,000 miles per year or around 40 miles per day. We’ll use this number for our example.
To begin, let’s look at how much electricity our sample cars use for every 10 miles driven, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy estimates:
- Tesla Model 3. 2.4 kWh/10 Mi
- Tesla Model Y. 2.6 kWh/10 Mi
- Tesla Model S. 2.8 kWh/10 Mi
- Chevrolet Bolt EV. 2.9 kWh/10 Mi
- Nissan Leaf. 3.0 kWh/10 Mi
- Tesla Model X. 3.2 kWh/10 Mi
- Ford Mustang Mach-E. 3.3 kWh/10 Mi
- Audi e-tron. 4.3 kWh/10 Mi
- Rivian R1T. 4.8 kWh/10 Mi
We’ll walk through the low and high calculations to give an example: Tesla Model 3 at 2.4 kWh/10 miles and Rivian R1T at 4.8 kWh/10 miles, respectively.
To begin, multiply each by 4 to get our 40-mile commute:
- Tesla Model 3: 2.4 kWh/10 miles 4 = 9.6 kilowatt-hours of electricity used per day
- Rivian R1T: 4.8 kWh/10 miles 4 = 19.2 kilowatt-hours of electricity used per day
Next, divide the kilowatt-hours used by the number of peak sun hours your solar panels will receive. This gives you the number of kilowatts needed to recharge your battery. For this example, we’ll assume you live in an area with an average of 7 peak sun hours per day.
- Tesla Model 3: 9.6 kWh / 7 hours = 1.37 kilowatts
- Rivian R1T: 19.2 kWh / 7 hours = 2.74 kilowatts
Finally, divide the number of kilowatts needed to recharge your battery by the panel rating on your solar array. We’ll use 350 watts as our example solar panel rating:
- Tesla Model 3: 1.37 kilowatts / 350 watts per panel = 3.9 or 4 panels
- Rivian R1T: 2.74 kilowatts / 350 watts per panel = 7.8 or 8 panels
As you can see, the average electric vehicle is going to need between 4 and 8 solar panels to fully charge on a day with ideal conditions. When sizing a solar power system for electric vehicle charging, it’s important to plan ahead and size accordingly.
What To Consider If You Have Solar Panels and Want to Buy an Electric Vehicle
If you already have solar panels installed on your home, you probably understand the relationship between your daily electricity generation and consumption. When considering the addition of an EV and electric vehicle chargers for home, you have to factor in the additional charging needs of the electric car you choose. You may need to add more solar panels to charge an EV, to offset the increased amount of electricity that your home will use if you want to avoid using extra electricity from the grid.
The formulas outlined above can help you estimate how many solar panels you’ll need to add to power your electric vehicle home charger, so you can then determine how much it will cost to have them installed.
Here are a few other factors to consider:
- Timing: It takes time to get approval for new solar panels and have them installed. Does this timeline line up with your timeline for purchasing a new electric vehicle?
- Roof Space: If you want to charge your electric vehicle with clean, solar energy, you’ll need enough roof space available to expand your solar array to account for the new electricity demand. Here’s our guide to calculating the necessary roof space for the panels you’ll want to add.
- Battery Storage: Electric vehicle chargers can use a lot of electricity. Unfortunately, many people drive their car to work during the day, which means it’s not plugged in and charging during the hours when solar panels are most productive. If you want to only use solar energy to charge your EV, you should consider installing solar batteries for your home. That way, you can store any excess energy your panels generate during the day and then use that power to charge your vehicle at night.
- Home Charger: If you’re planning to charge your electric car at home, you need to consider the cost of the charging device and charging cable, its location (wall-mounted or on a pole), installation fees (including electrical panel upgrades if needed), and other logistical factors into the overall cost.
What To Know If You Own an Electric Vehicle and Want to Install Solar Panels
To determine how many solar panels you’ll need to have installed, you should first calculate how much electricity your family uses on average each day, and then factor in charging an EV on top of that. You should also account for any future plans, and how they’ll affect your consumption. If you know you want to grow your family, expand the footprint of your house, or start working from home, you may want to opt for additional panels upfront to account for those future needs.
Beyond usage, there are other factors to consider:
- Roof: The type and size of your roof will play a role in determining whether you can install solar panels, how much light they’ll have access to, and how many will fit.
- Peak Sun Hours: Every area receives a different amount of average daily sunlight. A professional solar provider like Palmetto will have a good idea of how much sunlight your home will receive, and the number of panels you’ll need to take advantage of that energy.
- Weather: Obviously, local weather patterns impact sunlight on your solar panels, but your panels can still generate electricity on cloudy days. Your solar panel system installer can calculate the number of panels you need to power your home, based on historic weather patterns.
Solar Panels, Solar Battery Storage, and Your EV
When thinking about the intersection between your EV, solar panels, and battery storage, you should first consider how you plan to use your electric vehicle. If you work away from home during daylight hours, the car can’t be plugged in and charging at home, so you may need to consider a solar storage battery. Without a battery to store the solar energy produced during the day, the energy you use to charge your EV at night will come from your utility, and will likely be sourced from fossil fuels.
However, you may not need a solar battery if net metering is available in your area. With net metering, your utility company credits your account for the excess solar power you send back to the electricity grid during the day. You can then use those credits at night to offset the cost of charging your EV when the solar panels aren’t producing electricity.
If you live in an area with TOU rates, you can also use Smart chargers to only charge your electric vehicle when the rates are lowest. This Smart charging feature is built into some EVs, while others can accomplish the same goal with an EV charger upgrade.
Rebates and Incentives For Charging An Electric Vehicle with Solar Energy
The federal government has a program designed to make it more affordable to switch to clean energy. With the Solar Tax Credit, you’ll be able to claim a portion of your solar installation costs as a credit on your federal taxes. This program can lead to significant savings.
Because many programs designed to incentivize EVs and solar energy are done at the state or local level, the exact programs available to you depend on where you live. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency (DSIRE) maintains a list of these incentives that can be easily searched by your location.
The Future of Solar Power and Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicle manufacturers like Jeep and Rivian have started initiatives to bring solar charging stations out onto the adventure trail. Being unshackled from gas stations will allow adventurers to stay off the beaten path even longer.
One automotive manufacturer wants to merge solar power and electric vehicles as much as possible. Aptera Motors is producing an electric vehicle with an integrated solar panel, and the company claims their futuristic-looking car will require no charging for most daily use.
If you want something more traditional, Sono Motors also has a vehicle with built-in solar modules. Even established car companies like Hyundai are driving new solar technologies like a solar panel roof that can help charge the battery pack and power the heating and air conditioning.
Solar Power EV Shopping Guide
With increasingly strict emissions requirements and growing global consciousness about clean energy, electric vehicles may soon become more popular than their gasoline and diesel-powered relatives. While there are commercial charging stations for those who need energy on long road trips, home charging stations can free EV owners from the hassle of having to stop at a gas station every week.
With a well-thought-out solar installation, EV drivers can also be freed from the expensive energy bills that could otherwise come from charging their vehicle every day. By reducing their reliance on gas stations and grid electricity, they will be some of the first people to experience a taste of the electric-powered future.
There’s still a lot to be discovered about how we’ll be commuting in the future. As electric vehicle manufacturers continue to join forces with solar power companies, we’ll no doubt see a lot of exciting new developments.
If you’re considering both an electric vehicle and a solar energy system for your home, it’s important to account for the charging needs of your electric vehicle when calculating the number of solar panels you need. Adding an EV home charging station to a solar panel installation requires careful consideration about the number of panels needed and the possibility of including battery storage.
To learn more about how you can go solar at your home and charge your electric vehicle with clean energy from the sun, get started today with a Free Solar Design and Savings Estimate from Palmetto.