Solar charging for electric car: Grid-connected and Off-Grid charging

solar charging for electric vehicles

Electric vehicles charge from public charging stations, private charging stations and from home. Charging of a vehicle from the electricity generated from solar panels is called solar charging for electric vehicles.

EV Charging – Blog series

This is the Fifth part of EV Charging blog series. Please navigate to other parts here

  1. EV Charging stations
  2. Vehicle to Grid (V2G) and Vehicle to Home (V2H)
  3. Impact of EVs on the power grid
  4. Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) charging
  5. Solar Charging for Electric Car

Electric car charging from home, private, and public charging stations stress the power utility grid since they are relatively high load.

Solar charging for electric cars is advantageous to the environment as well as to the power grid. Let’s classify Electric cars solar charging into two, and explore one by one.

#1 Solar Charging station and #2 Solar powered electric vehicle

#1 Solar charging station

solar charging for electric vehicles
A solar charging stations (Reference: Sinovoltaics)

Usually, electric vehicle charging stations get energy from a power utility grid. A home charging of electric cars also makes use of energy from the power utility grid to charge the vehicle.

A solar charging station generates electricity from solar panels, stores them, and charges electric vehicles when they plugged in for charging.

You can read about the best solar panels and the advancements in the below post

A solar charging station does not only charge an electric car but also act as a micro generating station. A distributed generation station that generates the electricity at the place where it gets utilized.

One question ✋ – If power utility grid generates electricity from solar energy and a conventional charging station that connected to grid utilizes the energy to charge an electric car. Is that considered as solar charging for electric vehicles?

No, they are not. We consider charging stations that generate electricity themselves from solar energy to charge electric vehicles as solar charging stations.

#2 Solar powered electric vehicle

A solar vehicle is a vehicle that converts solar energy to electric energy and charges itself. Photo-voltaic energy conversion in solar cells is make use for the same.

A vehicle that partially uses solar energy for propulsion can also be called a solar-powered electric vehicle. They are called Solar Assisted Electric Vehicles (SAEVs). Solar-powered vehicles have separate power plugs to charge from conventional charging station also.

Solar panels have to be integrated into the vehicle to generate electricity. How much electricity can be generated from the solar panels on the vehicle? Would that be sufficient to run the vehicle?

Let’s have a look at the list of a few amazing vehicles that pop up when we think about solar charging for electric vehicles.

Electric cars solar charging
Solar Impulse 2 (Reference Wikipedia)

Solar Impulse 1: Impulse 1 is a solar-powered aircraft designed to fly only using solar energy. It has been developed in Switzerland and had its first flight in December 2009.

Solar Impulse 2: Solar impulse 2 circumnavigated earth using only solar energy generated by the panel installed on it. Solar Impulse 2 started its mission from Abu Dhabi airport on 9th March 2015.

The airplane has 17248 photovoltaic solar cells cover the top of wings, fuselage, and tailplane for a total area of 269.5 sq meter (2901 sq ft). Generates 66kW of electricity peak. (Wikipedia)

Solar powered car
Sion Solar Car by Sono Motors

Solar electric cars: Sono motors – a startup in Germany developed a solar-powered electric car (Sion) and they are making them charge another car also. Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) charging facility in Sonar car is a great advantage that they offer. Sion would travel 30 kilometers per day with the energy generated by solar (cells under proper conditions) integrated on the car body.

First solar powered train, buses, etc. are also manufactured experimentally and yet to manufacture commercially.

Advantages of solar charging stations

  • Solar charging stations result in no environmental pollution. Thermal power plants generate electricity and charging stations use it for charging in general. Solar charging stations completely avoid environmental pollution. “Carbon positive life,” says a thermal power plant emits 0.94 kg of carbon dioxide to generate 1kWhr of electricity.
  • Solar charging stations reduces the burden on the power utility grid. Solar charging stations minimize impacts of electric vehicles on power utility grid.
  • A solar charging station acts as a power generating station that could supply energy to a power utility grid. They generate electricity, stores in a battery, and can be supplied to the grid during peak hours for load shaving. A well-managed system could be helpful for load leveling in a utility grid.

Dis advantages of solar charging for electric vehicles

  • A most important drawback of solar charging is the low power density of solar panels. The Energy generated from the solar panel of an electric car is limited to the area of the panel that exposed to sunlight. The efficiency of solar panels is less than 20% and a 1 sq meter solar panel can generate less than 200 W of electricity if solar irradiance is around 1000W/sq. meter.
  • Life of photo-voltaic cells is around 25 years. Power conversion capacity reduces as they age and it results in poor performance of the vehicle.
  • Cost of photo-voltaic cells to generate unit electricity is more compared to the generation of electricity from other sources
  • Climate-dependent energy availability is another constraint of solar-powered electric vehicles


Solar charging for electric vehicles is classified into two – solar charging stations and solar-powered electric vehicles. A vehicle gets charged from solar energy results-in little environmental pollution. Solar charging stations are advantageous to the power utility grid in terms of load minimization, peak load shaving, etc.

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