Can Your Solar Panels Power An Electric Car?

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Electric cars are a hot topic for consumers all across the United States right now. With an expanding range of manufacturers and more models becoming available, electric cars are now a viable option for many consumers. Naturally, because of their connection to green living, they’re an obvious next step for those who have solar panel installations or for those who are looking to add them this alternative energy source to their home.

But one of the more pressing questions for home and electric vehicle owners is whether their solar panel installation has enough power to charge their electric vehicle. The answer to this question is a resounding, “it depends.” As a solar sales consultant with Palmetto, you might get questions like this frequently, so it’s important to understand how home energy systems power electric vehicles.

Charging Your Electric Vehicle With Your Solar Panel Array

Fortunately, it is possible to charge an electric vehicle with a solar array, provided the array is set up to handle the additional power draw of the vehicle. After all, in most cases, homeowners rely on their solar arrays to power nearly every aspect of their home, from laundry machines to television to hair irons. Depending on the size of their array and the energy needs of their vehicle, your client's vehicle may take longer to charge, or they may need a larger solar array.

What Your Clients Will Need to Know

When it comes to figuring out whether your clients will be able to use their solar panel installation to charge their electric vehicle, you’ll want to have them think about two key factors.

First, they’ll need to know the average electrical usage for their home. That includes things like appliances and fixtures that draw power. Next, they’ll also need to know the electrical usage of their particular model of electric car. Taken together, these factors are enough to let your client know if their current solar panel array is enough to charge their vehicle and power their home.

Finding Out How Much Energy a Home Uses

A home uses a certain amount of energy every month. This varies from home-to-home and from month-to-month, but you can still create a fairly accurate estimate for your clients based on a few pieces of data.

Ask your clients to calculate the watts of energy their devices and appliances use in a given day. You can then convert those watts into kilowatts to get an estimate of how much energy each device uses every month. Taken together, this is their monthly energy usage to power their home. Of course, if they have a home energy monitor, like Palmetto Home, they can get a more precise estimate almost right away.

Finding Out How Much Energy a Vehicle Uses

Determining how much energy a client’s home uses every month can be a little tricky, but that’s not the case for their electric vehicle. Manufactures list their requirements on their websites for these vehicles. For many, the energy usage is a major selling point for the car. For ease of reference, here are some of the most common selling electric vehicles and their energy usage estimates:

If your client does not have one of the vehicles listed above, they can determine the kilowatt-hours of energy it needs to drive 100 miles by using this guide produced by the U.S. Government.

By knowing how much energy a vehicle needs to stay charged, you can get a sense of how much more energy a client’s solar array will need to produce each month to keep that vehicle charged.  

Solar Panel Options For Charging Electric Vehicles

In some cases, after comparing their household energy usage with the power requirements of their electric vehicle, some homeowners realize that their current array isn’t enough to power both. In cases like these, it’s a sign that it’s time to expand their solar panel array or improve it in some way.

Add New Inverters

Within each solar panel array is a set of string inverters. These inverters are designed to work with an expected amount of energy that your panels produce every month. However, they aren’t designed to work with much more energy than that.

If your clients need to improve their array to power their car, it might be a great idea to install more inverters or another set of string inverters. These additional inverters make sure that the solar panel installation can draw enough power from the sun to power your home and your car.

Similarly, some clients might benefit from the use of microinverters. Microinverters essentially act as an individual inverter for each panel. This makes it easy to add new panels to an existing array without stressing the original inverter system.

Consider Adding a Second Array

New inverters work for those with limited roof real estate, but for clients who have room to spare, adding a secondary solar array may be a great option. This secondary array would be smaller than their first array and would be solely responsible for powering the electric vehicle. Just like the first solar panel installation and the electric vehicle, homeowners can make use of tax incentives and state and federal tax credits to offset the costs of this newer array.

Expand the Existing Solar Array

For some, another option is to simply expand their current installation. This could be because their current array isn’t meeting their current needs or your customer predicts that their energy usage will change in the near future.

Be a Part of the Green Energy Revolution

If you’re looking for an exciting new career path that has plenty of opportunities for growth, considering working with Palmetto as an Alchemist. Our team of solar sales consultants connects clients across the country with affordable and effective solar technology, allowing them to break free from their dependence on harmful fossil fuels. As an Alchemist sales consultant, you’ll enjoy flexible work hours, a competitive pay structure, and the chance to work throughout the country.

Contact us today to find out more about these opportunities and then apply today!