Will Solar Panels Help Power an EV?

by Matt

Solar Panels

Solar Panels

If you put solar panels on your car would it help? If you did it right, would it be like adding one or more batteries? Let's say you are at work and your car sits in the sun all day then you can recharge your batteries in that time and need less power from the house.

Last, couldn't you make so that when the car is fully charged it will give the extra power back to the house?

Hi, Matt!
Yes, sort of, yes, and yes.
At the risk of raining on your solar panel parade, I'm not enormously in favor of placing solar panels on top of electric cars - for the time being - for practical reasons.

The solar technology we have now is better applied through panels you put on your house (or work, if you've got that freedom), placed for optimal sun-gathering, stored in stationary batteries or fed back to the grid, then used to power your car. Today, you'll get the most bang for your solar buck if you spend it that way.

They're bulky and fairly inefficient when placed on the car as a range extender, but not useless, by any means. They will add, say, five miles onto your range.

This brings us to question two: Will it act as an extra battery? Does five miles added to your range equal one battery? This only works as a math problem. If 20 batteries give you 50 miles, then, um...then 5 extra miles is like two extra batteries; )

Third question: yes, that's how it works. Car sits in the sun all day with a panel on top, and you extend your range.

Four: Yes. When solar gathering ability allows a small, light, portable panel to gather more energy than your car needs in order to move its wheels (we're not there yet), you can sell it back to the grid. Folks who have solar panels on their houses do this now.


P.S. Interested in solar energy? Read my articles about solar panels on EVs and the future of solar energy in the US.

Comments for Will Solar Panels Help Power an EV?

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by: Anonymous

assuming that your car consumes 200 watts of power per mile and you, and you add 200 watts solar panel, you will have an extra mile per hour of sunlight exposure. minus battery loss or charging loss or whatever loss.. to be self sufficient you should only travel 7 to 8 mile per day in expose sunlight... lol! or park your car under sunlight and use it only once a week. is it a bad deal??

Take not that this is a rough estimate/calculation in simplified form there are a lot of factor to drive this down. (we cannot go up as this is the best possible scenario)

Installation suggestion...

Best if you can assemble the solar cell your self and mount it on your roof or hood, it must be well designed and protected. Putting a solar panel for home with aluminum frame is very ugly....

EV + Solar = Driving on Sunshine!
by: Synergy TV Productions

Well that is interesting because my house featured on "Greenovate" for Planet Green and for NBC and KTLA news shows you can do it!!!

I have offset not only my energy (my meter runs backwards, feeds into the LA, CA grid and I get money back each month) bu I create enough energy off peak to charge an electric vehicle. When you add up the gas savings - you actually pay off your Solar Panels sooner.

Monica Ramone
Los Angeles, CA

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