Using Solar Power To Charge Your Tesla


Using Solar Power To Charge Your Tesla

A caveat of owning a Tesla is the time and cost it takes to charge it, but what if I told you you could charge your Tesla from the comfort of your own home using solar power. Using solar power can be a hassle-free and cost-efficient way to make sure your Tesla is always ready to go. So why should you be looking at solar power for the future?

In the long-run, solar panels will help you save money by producing sustainable energy right from the stationary position of your car. You will also reduce your carbon footprint and create renewable energy. Time efficiency is also a positive of switching to solar energy.

So, now that you have an idea of some of the benefits that come with charging your Tesla with solar power, the next step is to figure out the execution. In this article, we’ll dive into more detail on the benefits of using solar power as well as some of the disadvantages and the most efficient ways to generate it.

Benefits of Using Solar Power

The most important thing when considering new options is to understand the benefits of switching over. By now, you may be accustomed to using charging stations to power up your Tesla, but you may be missing out on a better alternative.

Cost Efficiency

In the short run, you may question whether or not you’re actually saving money when you’re buying and installing solar panels to your car or home. The cost for a full charge through a charging station will go for about 13 cents per kWh. A full charge for a 348-mile drive range on a Model S or Model X will come out to about $15.29.

A Tesla battery ranges from a 75-kWh to a 100-kWh capacity on newer models so the cost of a full charge varies, but assuming an average commuting lifestyle, you may run up to over $90 a month on recharge prices and close to $1,100 yearly. These prices are better than what you’ll spend on non-electric cars, but solar power can do even more.

The average driver will drive about 37 to 40 miles a day, this equals about 12 kWh. Assuming you’re using a low-end solar panel, your panel will produce at least 1 kWh a day. You would need over 70 panels for a full daily charge assuming this. However, higher-quality panels will significantly lower that number.

Assuming a standard panel costs $185 and generates about 2-3 kWh a day, you would need about 6 panels to reach that 12 kWh number. This would cost you about $1,100.

Granted, this is a very specific scenario, it gives you an idea of how solar panels work and how it will affect your Tesla.

Using these same numbers, you would need about 25 panels in order to fully charge a 75 kWh capacity Tesla. This would come out to about $4,625, meaning it would take about 4 years to break even in terms of what you would have been spending at a charging station.

Later in the article, we will discuss a more specific scenario using a location and the number of kWh typically generated there.

As with anything in life, each situation is unique. Solar power may seem like a tough investment at first but in the long run, you will save.

Many solar panel systems come with financing options. EnergySage Solar Marketplace gives you an option to compare solar panel pricing with those in your area and will give you financing options to consider.

Time Efficiency

Charging a Tesla takes time. Although you’re saving money on the amount it takes to completely fuel up your car, it can be time-consuming. You will typically need close to 6 hours to fully charge your car and will need to leave your car at a charging station.

One of the benefits of using solar power to charge your Tesla is your ability to seamlessly charge your car battery when it is stationary and close to a location with solar panels.

You can use the energy you obtain through your solar panels to shorten the amount of time you will need to spend at a charging station on a day-to-day basis. Solar panels aren’t so much of a rival of charging stations, but a teammate designed to make the life of a Tesla owner much easier.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Aside from the benefits solar energy can bring to your Tesla owning experience, using solar power can help you positively impact the environment, just like Telsa models themselves were designed to do.

Through a reduction of carbon emissions, you will be reducing the environmental impact of your energy source. When using solar power, your electricity is produced by natural gas, coal, and renewable energy.

So, investing in solar power and using it to charge your Tesla, brings many benefits with it. Many of these benefits will be seen more in the long-term than in the short-term, but the sooner you invest in solar power, the quicker you will reap the benefits of it.

You’ll also want to consider that when you’re investing in solar panels, you’re not only using them to benefit your electric car, but it may be the first step in transitioning your home into a more solar power run location.

Disadvantages of Using Solar Power to Charge Tesla

The advantages we discussed in the previous section can be flipped and thought of as disadvantages for a Tesla car owner. The advantages of using solar power are all more long-term solutions, but it is natural to also be focused on the short term. We won’t go into extensive detail, but a few points to consider in the short-term include:

  • Short-term costs
  • Not as immediately efficient as charging stations
  • Bad weather and shadows will diminish solar panel efficiency
  • Trial and error for how many panels you actually need

Like most things, it will take planning and trial and error to understand if investing in solar power is right for you.

How to Use Solar Power to Power Your Tesla

Now that we’ve gone over the benefits and disadvantages of using solar power to charge your Telsa, let’s discuss how to actually do it.

Although Tesla hasn’t released any models with solar panel roofs, Elon Musk has announced that the Telsa Cybertruck, which is set to be released in late 2021, will feature an option to add solar panels to the roof will charge the car up to 15 miles a day.

Since there are no solar-powered Tesla’s currently on the market, we must fend for ourselves, and the best way to this is by investing in solar panels for the roof of your home.

Solar Roof

As we’ve discussed previously in the article, the amount of solar power energy you wish to generate for your car is entirely up to how much you’re willing to invest in solar panels.

You can search for solar panels that match your budget and demand, but Tesla themselves offer their own solar power roof.

The Tesla solar roof offers tile by tile solar panels to match the look and architecture of your roof, which will turn sunlight into harvestable electricity that you can use at any time during your day. The solar roof will essentially turn your home into a utility for you to use to power up all your electric driven appliance, including your Tesla car.

The cost is dependent on your home, but you’ll be looking at about $21.85 per square foot.

Solar Power Apps

You’ll want to keep track of the actual amount of energy your solar panels are harvesting. The best way to do this is by downloading a corresponding app. A few apps to consider include:

  • Tesla App
  • SolarEdge Monitoring Platform
  • Enphase MyEnlighten App
  • APsystems EMA App
  • Fronius Solar. Web App

These are just some of the apps that will help you understand the amount of solar energy that is being generated around your house. Each app has unique features to help you track solar energy in the best way possible for your situation

The Tesla app would make an obvious choice for a Tesla solar roof as it will work alongside your Tesla products to give you the necessary information to get the most out of each product.

The SolarEdge app is a popular choice because it tracks the location of the sun and the energy it is producing for your solar panels.

Location

Your location is an important factor to consider when deciding on whether or not to invest in solar panels. If you are someone that lives in an area with predominantly bad weather year-round, you will not see the same benefits as someone who sees the sun more often than not.

Seasons will also affect the performance of your solar panels. During the winter, Northern areas that see a lot of snow will find that their solar panels will become almost obsolete. Meanwhile, those in areas like South Florida who see the sun even in the wintertime will continue to reap the benefits of their solar roofs.

So, make sure to consider where you live and what your weather and season typically look like before going all-in on solar power. What makes sense for someone in Miami in the long-term, may not make sense for someone in New York.

Versatility

It is recommended that you consider the other benefits solar panels can bring to you other than just charging your car battery. Considering how much it would cost to buy enough solar panels to fully charge your Tesla from zero on a daily basis, make sure you’re using your stored solar energy on other appliances around your home.

Some electric companies may even offer you money for all the stored energy your solar panels obtain. Take full advantage of your solar panels and don’t just see them as a means to charge your Tesla for a few extra miles a day.

Other Factors to Consider

Although you may not be ready to fully invest in solar power, that doesn’t mean others aren’t. Many businesses that invest in solar energy could be beneficial to you and your Tesla.

Companies such as Target, Wal-Mart, Apple, Macy’s, Intel, and Ikea among others, have gone full solar. Many of these companies have begun installing solar-powered roofs to their locations.

Not only is this a beneficial move for the green initiative, but it is something you can benefit off if you are someone who works at one of these locations.

Ways to Charge Your Tesla

There are a few ways to charge your Tesla besides using solar energy.

  • Tesla supercharger– Provides faster charging for a fee of 50 cents per minute at charging stations.
  • Destination charger– These are chargers located at hotels, businesses, and other locations. These chargers can be convenient for travel, but are much slower than superchargers and provide about 20 to 30 miles per hour charging.
  • Public charger– Public charging stations, sort of like a gas station. Charges are billed to your credit card.
  • At-home charging– The most popular and convenient charging method. Use an electrical circuit that is tied to your home electricity.

Each charging method has its disadvantages, but the at-home charging method, while convenient, can also drive up electric bill costs.

The amount you’d be investing in a solar panel roof would eventually even out with the money you’d be saving on charging station costs, but also with the amount you’d be seeing on your electric bill every month.

Consider a scenario where your neighborhood loses power for a few days and you no longer have an electric cord to charge your car battery. Solar panel roofs would give you a way to charge not only your Tesla but also store usable energy for the rest of the appliances in your home.

The location also plays a role in this as well because Tesla charging stations aren’t seen as frequently as gas stations. If your area only has a few Tesla charging stations, you’d have to hope they’re not far from your home and that they have available charging ports when you visit.

Charging Current Tesla Models

While future models of Tesla, including the Cybertruck, will include the option for solar panel roofs, what do we need to know about the models of Tesla we already own?

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need To Charge Your Tesla

As always, this question is entirely dependent on a few factors. The first being how much driving you intend on doing, but your location and the weather in your area are both crucial factors as well. All-in-all, the more mileage you use, the more energy you’ll need out of your solar panels.

The average system size for the US solar market is about 5kW. Let’s assume you live in an area that doesn’t see much change through the seasons such as Los Angeles, California. The average annual kWh in Los Angeles is 7,915. Using the average 5kW size, we can assume that you’re using 250-watt panels. Meaning you have 20 panels.

Each of your 20 panels is producing about 396 kWh of energy a year. If we use the battery of a Tesla Model S, which has a 100 kWh capacity and a 348-mile range, then we see that we need about 104 kWh of stored energy from a single solar panel to charge a Tesla from zero to full battery life.

If we break that down, we see that a single solar panel in the scenario will only store enough energy in one year to fully charge your tesla about 4 times. At this point, it becomes a question of deciding how many solar panels you believe is enough to work together and efficiently add power to your car battery over periods of time.

This is only one very specific example. So if you live in Los Angeles and have the same solar panel specs, you now have an idea of what you’re working with. If this isn’t you, however, you can use this link on 5,000 Watt Solar System to better understand your own situation.

Before we move on, the most important thing to remember is that you have to consider the amount of driving you to on a daily as well as a factor in longer trips you may have planned in the future before breaking down how many panels would be a practical amount for you to invest in.

Solar Power and the Future of Tesla’s

You may wonder why Tesla and its eco-friendly initiative haven’t been releasing solar-powered cars, to begin with. Well to understand the future of Tesla and why Elon Musk has decided to begin releasing solar panel roof options for future cars, you should understand why it has taken this long to do so.

Why Not Solar?

Solar panel roofs are inconsistent even in ideal conditions. Solar panels are most efficient when not limited by fluctuating light conditions. Some of the factors that diminish the peak performance of a solar panel include:

  • Trees
  • Buildings
  • Shadows
  • Garages
  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Nightfall

These are just some of the factors that prevent solar-powered roofs from working efficiently and some of the main reasons why Elon Musk and Tesla have been so hesitant to feature solar-powered roofs.

Even in a scenario where your car is in an optimal position to use its solar panels, the amount of energy a small solar panel roof can produce is extremely limited.

The surface area of a Tesla is small and although research shows that you’ll only get about 150 to 200W per m² of a panel, you’d be lucky to get 1.5m² to work with. Based on these numbers, the potential for energy your car can retain is limited.

The overall benefits of adding solar panels to a Tesla roof would do little to help improve the range and cost of a trip. It would take a model with a much larger surface area to store enough energy to see the true benefits of a solar panel roof. The upcoming Tesla Cybertruck will give us a better understanding of any real cost-efficient benefits.

Even with the Cybertruck, you’re only getting about an extra 15 miles a day from your stored solar energy.

With all that being said, the decision to begin to feature solar panel roofs is a step in a new direction for Tesla and other companies releasing electric cars. Over the next few years, we will be able to see the benefits of solar panel roofs on cars, and companies like Tesla will be able to build on these models for the future.

Why the Switch to Solar?

In 2017, Elon Musk pushed for the Telsa Model 3 to have solar cells, but after research concluded that it wasn’t a practical feature at the time.

Years later, soft cell efficiency has improved and the more companies and engineers begin to realize that, the more they will feel comfortable incorporating them into their car models. This may play a part as to why Musk had a sudden change of heart and rolled out the solar panel roof option for the Cybertruck and future Tesla models.

The estimate on extra mileage for the Cybertruck is currently 15 extra miles a day, which may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the average person drives about 37 to 40 miles a day, those extra 15 miles seem useful.

Solar + Storage

The best way to get the most out of your Tesla’s recharging abilities is to combine station charging with solar charging.

Tesla acquired SolarCity and has since introduced what the public may recognize as the Powerwall. Using simple yet innovative technology, the Powerwall uses the traditional Tesla wall charging technology to charge your Tesla, while it simultaneously sits beneath overhead solar canopies.

This method is also usable for those who charge their Tesla using at-home charging stations but also have solar panels installed on their roof.

Tesla got the attention of many consumers in the market with its latest innovation. This expanded on their green positive initiative and has developed a highly efficient alternative energy solution.

Going Fully Solar

As mentioned in the article, many of the world’s biggest corporations are going fully solar and taking more initiative in conserving reusable energy and better protecting our communities and environment.

When considering using solar power to charge your Tesla, the first thing that comes to your mind is how it will benefit you and if it is worth the investment rather than just sticking to the normal charging methods you’re accustomed to.

While solar power won’t always work as efficiently as you’d like it to, in ideal conditions it will make a difference not only for your car’s battery life and for the reusable stored energy that you can use on your other appliances, but it will also help your environment and the community in general.

According to research, if enough solar panels were installed to equal the average electricity usage throughout the United States, solar power savings would reach nearly $1,450 per year.

The more that businesses and corporations begin to move to solar energy, the more consumers will follow suit. Currently, it is a difficult sell for most consumers mainly due to the price of solar panels and installation costs, but that should change with time.

As we’ve discussed already, going solar should be seen as a long-term goal. Using solar energy to power your Tesla is a gateway towards using solar energy to power your everyday appliances.

Perhaps the release of more vehicles featuring solar panels will show more of the obvious benefits going solar can bring to consumers.

Conclusion

At this point, you’ve read all about the benefits, disadvantages, and procedures of a solar panel system. The next step is deciding whether this is the right investment for you.

Buying solar panels should be a long term investment plan. Remember to figure out whether this is something you see as not only beneficial to your Tesla, but your home and livelihood as well.

Consider factors such as location, weather, daily mileage, and overall practicality to your day-to-day life when analyzing what solar panels will do to increase your Tesla owning experience.

If you are still hesitant about installing solar panels to your home solely to charge your car, you also now have the opportunity to shop the market for a car with a solar panel roof shortly with the release of the Tesla Cybertruck in 2021.

You’ll want to check some of the links provided in the article to understand solar energy as it is relative to your location. There are plenty of resources available to those considering going fully solar.

As many of the world’s biggest companies being to go full solar and develop solar-powered products, it may be beneficial to you to follow the trend and see what solar energy can do for you and the environment. Using solar power to charge your Tesla is only the beginning of what solar energy can do.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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