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Solar Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles (EV’s). Solar electric charger

Solar Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles (EV’s). Solar electric charger

    Solar charging stations for electric vehicles (EV’s)

    The combination of solar energy and electric vehicle (EV) charging is the key in drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Electricity comes from a variety of sources and it’s crucial that electric vehicles will be powered by renewables. Electric cars are becoming immensely popular and coming years we expect nearly anyone who owns a solar energy system will install a solar charging station at its home. For this to happen we’ll need a fundamental change in how we think about refueling our cars and a natural evolution of our energy infrastructure.

    What is the change in thinking that we need?

    Most people believe we need to be able to charge our plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) within 2-4 minutes, similar to pulling over at a gas station and filling up your car with gas. Even though Tesla’s super chargers are trying to do exactly that, electric charging is going to be different from what people are used to. From now on most people will charge their electric cars with their home solar charging station while they sleep or while they’re at work. Solar charging stations will be used for topping off” an electric car, giving the owner enough battery charge to return home where she can fully recharge the EV.

    Fact: Just 10 solar panels should provide roughly enough electricity to power 21,000 kilometers of electric driving each year. How’s that?

    solar energy charging for electric vehicles

    On-Grid solar charging stations

    A grid-tied solar energy system is the most straight forward way to charge your electric car with solar energy. A grid-tied solar energy system will feed the power to the grid, regardless of whether your home needs the power at that moment or not. So when your solar energy system is feeding to the grid, and you are at your office, the electric power generated at home is sold to the utility company. You’ll get that power back from the utility company in the form of a credit. When you come back from work and park your car at home, you can use that credit to re-charge your car at home.

    A conventional electric vehicle charger that is connected to the grid “will almost always be cheaper” than an Off-Grid charger that stores the power in batteries.

    Off-Grid Solar charging station

    An Off-Grid electrical car charger can also be named Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger There’s no connection to local utilities required. The solar panel array will feed the battery energy storage system and the entire power needs are drawn from this storage system. Off-grid electrical car chargers can be placed virtually anywhere, as there’s no need for a connection to the electrical grid. The independent solar array canopy catches quite some wind, and for that reason a solid foundation is required. Some off-grid solar energy chargers have a heavy steel base plate that functions as ballast. Those are extremely easy and quick to install, as no foundation or digging is required.

    Most electric car owners will completely charge their EV batteries at night at their homes. Therefore for most solar charging stations, the objective is not to fully charge an electric car, but to allow several cars to “top off” their batteries.


    If you are still driving a conventional car using 100 years old technology (gas), sell that thing and be part of the future with an EV! As you know electricity comes from a variety of sources, including dirty fossil fuels, and now is the time to push for renewables to take its place. Solar charging stations for home and commercial use will play a major role in powering electric vehicles with renewable energy.


    You don’t need solar panels or a wind power system to use the zappi. But purchasing it today, means you’re future fit for tomorrow.

    zappi is an EV charger with a difference. zappi can operate as a standard home car charger, using power from the grid. It also has optional charging modes which use 100% green energy generated from your own home Solar PV system or wind generation.

    Using your own power generation increases the Return On Investment (ROI) for your panels and electric car. And means that you can charge your EV at home for free! zappi is easy to install and user friendly. But don’t worry, if you don’t have solar panels installed, the zappi will still operate as a standard car charger harnessing power from the grid.

    EV charger designed in the UK

    Being the first-ever solar EV charger of its kind, our innovative team has carefully designed features and functions to give you complete control of your electric car charging experience. Paired with the myenergi app, you can set timers to utilise economy tariffs with our electricity provider. You can also use the boost function, monitor your devices, and so much more! A future proof, intelligent electric car charger conceived and evolved in the UK.

    #1 solar charger

    Be future ready with the zappi home car charger.

    Three EV charging modes

    zappi provides you with tailor made charging to suit your lifestyle and demands. Whether you need a “fast” charge to get you going in a hurry, or are happy to wait for your charge to take place using 100% renewable energy. zappi gives you the flexibility to charge on your terms.

    The eco charge mode is a mixture of both green energy and energy imported from the grid. eco mode minimises the use of grid power, generally taking advantage of cheaper rates overnight, but can also charge using 100% green energy. Essentially giving you the ability to charge up your car for free! The charging power is continuously adjusted in response to changes in generation or power being used elsewhere in the home.

    If the surplus generation drops below 1.4kWh some power will be drawn from the grid to top it back up.

    eco charging is very similar to eco charging in that it can utilise power from the grid or your own power source. However the charge power is continuously adjusted in response to changes in generation or power consumption elsewhere in the home. Your electric car charging will pause if there is too much-imported power, continuing only when there is surplus free power available.

    In fast mode, your vehicle will be charged at maximum power. This power can come from a renewable energy source or simply from the grid. The cost of charging an electric car also depends on numerous factors including mode and the car itself.

    If you don’t have solar panels or wind generation, zappi will charge just like an ordinary Mode 3 charging point.

    Set timers

    At certain hours ‘time of use energy tariffs’ are significantly cheaper. With zappi, you can use the ‘boost timer’ option to start charging at times with the lowest rates. It’s a cost-saving charging alarm clock for your EV!

    No earth rod

    zappi is the only EV charger with built-in PEN fault technology. It’s the safest choice for an electric car charger, eliminating the need to install additional earth rods means no extra costs an easy install.

    PV charging

    zappi works in harmony with your Solar PV or wind generation, meaning you can charge your car using green energy for free. If you haven’t got a renewable energy source at home, zappi works just like any other charger in ‘fast mode’.

    Remote access

    The myenergi app allows you to access and control your devices from anywhere in the world! Visual graphs allow you to monitor your import/export information all in one place.

    Pincode protected

    A 5 digit pin code is a security feature integrated into this Smart electric car charging point, should you wish to use it. It prevents people from changing your settings or using your solar EV charger without permission or tampering.

    EV charger that comes with a 3 year warranty

    As well as having our excellent technical support team on hand to answer any of your questions and queries, zappi also comes with a 3-year warranty. Once your myenergi zappi has been installed, please register your individual products to take full advance of the 3-year warranty support.

    zappi utilises your self generated power for EV charging

    A solar EV charger works by allowing you to use excess solar to power up your car. Generating solar energy requires solar panels (PV) to be fitted to your home or place of work, but the energy generated through the solar panels is totally free, essentially giving you free miles! Light energy produced by the sun is called a photon. It is the most basic, fundamental particle of all light. It is these photons in natural daylight that are converted by solar panel cells to produce electricity. This small bundle of electromagnetic energy is constantly in motion. Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to bounce into electrons, setting them free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.

    Our eco technology makes intelligent decisions based on your self generated power and the energy tariff you are signed up to. This allows your myenergi devices to optimise for drawing energy from the grid at the lowest possible rate per kWh.

    Charging your vehicle safely

    Exceeding all safety standards

    Safety is of paramount importance. Every myenergi product is engineered to the highest standards possible in terms of energy efficiency, but we place equal importance on safety.

    Whilst we adhere to all industry safety standards, we are always looking to provide the safest experience possible for our installers and users. That’s why we were the first to introduce the PEN fault testing ahead of every other manufacturer.

    Manage monitor your energy usage

    Every myenergi device is designed to be connected. This means you can monitor everything in one place from the myenergi app as well as adjust settings, timers and boost functions as required. Control your myenergi devices 24/7 from anywhere with the myenergi app

    The 7 Best Solar Phone Chargers of 2023

    We’re big fans of solar chargers with multiple features like working as a power bank while doubling as a flashlight.

    Grace Gavilanes is a freelance writer-editor who has covered a wide range of topics. Her writing has been published in InStyle, Food Wine, Glamour, and Mic, among other outlets.

    Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact checker, and researcher with more than 25 years’ experience in consumer-oriented content.

    In This Article

    Picture this: You’re driving to your campsite or hiking on an unfamiliar trail, when suddenly your phone dies — right when you needed to double-check your maps. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that happens far too often. While wall chargers and outlets are hard to come by when you’re on the road or in the middle of nowhere, solar phone chargers come in handy for moments like this.

    solar, charging, stations, electric, vehicles

    We’ve found our favorite after extensive research and can’t recommend the Blavor Solar Power Bank enough. But don’t let its best overall rating steer you from checking out the others. They’re all winners in their own right: From a solar phone charger that doubles as a high-powered lantern to a lightweight option that’ll rival your wall charger’s speed, these offerings are bound to make an appearance on your next few trips.

    Best Overall

    Blavor Solar Power Bank

    Everything you could possibly need in a portable solar charger can be found in this lightweight power bank. It boasts three ports and wireless charging for your phone or Airpods. A built-in LED flashlight is great to have as an extra light source when you’re off the grid, as is the buffer-boosted exterior that helps protect it from falls. Since it’s dustproof and IPX5 waterproof (meaning it can withstand low-pressure water streams), you can feel confident bringing it along for beach trips. To easily expose it to sunlight when you’re out and about, it comes with a carabiner clip that has a compass on it. A USB output, wireless charging pad, and a USB C output/input are included. You get your pick between five color options, and if you want even more functionality, Blavor’s four-at-once charger is also available.

    Price at time of publish: 50

    The Details: 3 ports | 10 ounces | 10,000 mAh | 5.9 x 3.1 x 0.8 inches | Built-in battery | Waterproof

    Best Budget

    Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank

    • As is typical with solar chargers, for the most effective charge, consider first charging it via USB.

    While this solar charger was built for outdoor use, it can also be charged via USB cable if you’re near an outlet. It charges phones up to 10 times and tablets up to four times, separately. On average, the portable solar charger can be used nine times per charge, making it a staple for extended trips. It’s available on Amazon at a steal compared to chargers on the market with similar battery lives.

    Price at time of publish: 57

    The Details: 2 ports | 1.34 pounds | 25,000 mAh | 6.18 x 3.54 x 1.38 inches | Built-in battery

    Most Durable

    Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

    • To avoid ruining your phone’s battery, don’t plug this panel into your device directly; instead, pair it with a power bank like the Yeti 200x Power Station first.

    This heavy-duty solar panel (that’s lighter than it looks) is big enough to capture sunlight to charge any device with help from an external power bank. From phones to laptops and even mini fridges, it can collect the amount of solar power needed to maintain your devices for long periods of time away from the hustle and bustle. However, since this panel does have a charge controller, you should only transfer power from it to a heavy-duty power bank that can then be used to power up your devices.

    Price at time of publish: 250

    The Details: 3 ports | 6.85 pounds | 50 watts | 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches (unfolded); 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches (folded) | Built-in battery | Water-resistant

    Best Lightweight

    Go Sun SolarPanel 10

    • Because of its convenient size, it may be more difficult to collect and transfer solar energy to power your device.

    Claiming to “charge about [as] fast as a typical wall outlet charger” when the sun is fully out, this solar panel can easily fit inside a tote bag thanks to its near-flat design or can freely hang on a backpack. It can also charge any device in as little as three hours due to its 10-watt power output, according to the brand. A bonus for those with overloaded suitcases? It weighs less than a pound. This charger is water-resistant but won’t stand up to being fully submerged.

    Price at time of publish: 99

    The Details: 1 port | 0.65 pounds | 10 watts | 10.5 x 7 inches (unfolded); 5.25 x 7 inches (folded) | Water-resistant

    solar, charging, stations, electric, vehicles

    Best for Multiple Devices

    BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

    With three USB-A ports, this four-panel solar charger is able to power up your favorite devices, such as your phone and Bluetooth speaker. This charger comes equipped with Smart chips to ensure your device is always protected and charged safely without experiencing over-voltage. It’s extremely thin for slipping into a backpack or tote, and when you need to hang it up to soak in the sun, holes with heavy-duty metal lining come in handy.

    Price at time of publish: 80

    The Details: 3 ports | 1.34 pounds | 28 watts | 33.1 x 11.1 x.2 inches (unfolded) or 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches (folded) | Waterproof

    Best Charging Speed

    Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger for Camping

    The Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger can fully charge a phone or tablet in approximately two hours. Another standout feature of this solar charger is its ability to stop charging when it senses your device is overheating or has reached its full capacity. Two carabiner clips are included with the foldable charger for hanging and hauling needs. In addition to providing your phone with top-notch energy, the team at Ryno Tuff is also committed to giving back to the earth — with every purchase of this solar charger, the company will plant a tree through the National Forest Foundation.

    Price at time of publish: 63

    The Details: 2 ports | 1.04 pounds | 21 watts | 18.1 x 11.8 x 0.12 inches (unfolded); 5.9 x 11.8 x 0.79 inches (folded) | Waterproof

    Best Flashlight

    LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern

    With five brightness settings to light up your chosen environment, this backpacker-favorite lantern features adjustable straps so you can easily hang it from trees or inside a tent. It’s also collapsible (a must for those on the go), shatterproof (made from heavy-duty TPU, an elastic plastic that’s PVC-free), and waterproof (it can survive being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes).

    Price at time of publish: 50

    The Details: 1 port | 0.53 pounds | 2,000 mAh | 6 x 6 x 6 inches (unfolded); 6 x 6 x 1 inches (folded) | Built-in battery | Waterproof

    Tips for Buying a Solar Phone Charger

    Consider device compatibility

    When it comes to finding the perfect-for-you solar phone charger, it’s important to consider the types of ports (USB being the most common) your charger houses, as well as when you’ll be using it. A key rule of thumb: The bigger the solar panels, the faster your phone will charge, since the larger solar panels will capture more sunlight, thus providing more energy to your device. If you’re looking for something more compact, just know the charge time of those chosen power packs — which can typically reach 10-plus hours for solar phone chargers — will be on the lengthier side.

    Know the difference between direct and battery-bank solar chargers

    A built-in battery (i.e. a battery-bank solar charger) is important if you’re looking to charge your phone overnight or during a cloudy day, for example. The built-in battery will store any unused energy from the sun for future use (no sunlight needed as this is happening), while a portable direct charger without a built-in battery is best for on-the-go usage. For example, when you attach your solar panel charger to your backpack and connect the USB cord to your phone during an especially sunny hike, your phone will charge as you carry on with your adventure.

    Think about portability

    One of the biggest points in purchasing and using a solar phone charger is to bring it with you while caping, hiking, or enjoying other outdoor activities. You’ll want to make sure your charger isn’t so bulky or heavy that it become difficult to take with you while still providing all the capabilities you’re looking for.

    As the name suggests, solar phone chargers are powered by the sun. Here’s how: Photons carry energy from the sun, creating an electric field that produces energy that’s transferred to the charger itself, which is then delivered to the device. So, do solar phone chargers actually work? It really comes down to your expectations. Charging speed and durability are reflective of how you’re using your portable solar-powered charger. A few tips to consider: Make sure the solar panel is completely exposed to the sun, without any obstruction, and be patient — depending on which solar pack you choose, it’s important to remember that garnering a full charge will take more time than it would with a classic wall charger.

    Power output is measured in either mAh (milliamps per hour) and watts. Both units speak to the energy charge. The higher the number (for both), the more energy can be stored—meaning a longer battery life.

    solar, charging, stations, electric, vehicles

    You can take your solar phone charger on the plane if and only if your charger doesn’t contain a built-in, lithium-ion battery (the most common type of battery used in chargers). Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to “[creating] sparks or [generating] a dangerous evolution of heat,” which is why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and TSA do not allow portable chargers containing this battery in checked luggage; you can bring it on the plane with you, but only if it’s packed in your carry-on. Have a battery-less solar phone charger? You’re cleared to check it in as long as it’s able to fit into your suitcase.

    Why Trust Travel Leisure

    Grace Gavilanes is a writer-editor who has covered a wide range of topics — from celebrity news and beauty to food, wellness, and travel — for close to a decade. Her writing has been published in InStyle, Food Wine, Glamour, and Mic, among other outlets. To curate this list of the best solar phone chargers, she drew from her own experience as a lifestyle writer and researched dozens of products.

    Love a great deal? Sign up for our TL Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

    #Vanlife: Can you charge an electric vehicle with rooftop solar panels?

    You’re not alone in eyeballing that new Ford F150 Lightning or Rivian R1T as a potential overland truck. Or the Ford Transit Electric as a custom camper van. How nice would it be to ditch the constraints of gasoline, not to mention the pollution and expense, and just escape off grid?

    The trick, of course, is battery life. So, we wondered, is it possible to charge an electric vehicle off of solar panels?

    The simple answer is, yes, you could charge an EV from onboard solar panels.

    The real answer is, no, it’s not practical yet, because math. It would simply take too long to charge up your camper van or overland truck to the point where it could drive any useful distance. But why? What would it take? And how far off are we? Let’s find out…

    Disclaimer: I am an amateur mathematician and electrician at best, but I had smarter people fact check this story, and for all practical purposes, it accurately explains the concept.

    Can solar panels charge an electric vehicle?

    Let’s use the new F150 Lightning with the extended range battery as an example, and see what it takes to charge it up. This model includes Ford’s 80-amp charging station that gets hardwired into your home’s power grid and delivers 19.2kW to the vehicle’s onboard dual charging system. It will charge the vehicle 85% (from 15% to 100%) in 8 hours. One hour of charging would give you about 30 miles of additional range.

    Here, we need a few numbers to put everything else into perspective. Ford doesn’t disclose the size of their extended range battery pack, but our back of the napkin math suggests about 180kWh. That’s almost 100kWh more than the extended pack for the Mach-E, which isn’t designed to carry large payloads.

    Problem #1 – Basic chargers are slow.

    Ford’s EVs all come with a standard 32-amp Mobile Charger that plugs into any 120V or 240V outlet, so you could charge it up at your friend’s house. Buuuut, on an upgraded 220-240V home outlet, that Mobile Charger is only putting out 7.68kW, and Ford estimates it would take 19 hours to go from 15% charge to 100% charge. One hour of charging at this level would net you about 13 miles of range.

    Problem #2 – They’re even slower off standard outlets.

    If your friend doesn’t have a 240V outlet, or you haven’t installed one at your home, that charger is pulling from a standard U.S. 110-120V outlet, kW output drops to 3.84, but charge times will likely more than double. Those 19 hours become about 40 hours or more.

    Probably a lot more, because Ford says its Mobile Charger will add about 20 miles per hour of charge to the smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic Mach-E on a 240V outlet, but only about 3 miles of range per hour on a 110V outlet. So, optimistically, let’s say the Lightning would get 2 miles per hour of charge on a standard home outlet.

    Problem #3 – Solar would be way, way slower.

    This is where it gets complicated. Even with the lowly 120V output, the Mobile Charger wants to pump out 3.84kW. You’ll see why this is a problem in a second.

    Best case scenario is we have a quad-cab truck with topper and four 100W Renogy solar panels on board. They’re putting out 400W, running through a power control box to charge your accessory 12V battery bank. This is the typical setup for overland vehicles, RVs and camper vans with solar, so let’s use that for this example.

    Those auxiliary batteries are standard 12V DC deep cycle batteries, though…not your EV’s main batteries. So to get their power to your EV’s Mobile Charger and then to your EV’s batteries, you need an inverter to convert to 110V DC in order to plug your charger in and then plug your vehicle in.

    Remember, Ford’s Mobile Charger on a 120V outlet wants to output 3.84kW. That’s 3,840 watts! Most inverters are rated to 1,000 to 3,000 watts. So right off the bat, you may not even be able to get the equipment to make this work.

    But let’s say you can, it still wouldn’t matter.

    Our example solar is only generating 400W of DC power. Assuming it only loses 20% being converted to AC as it goes through the inverter that the Mobile Charger is plugged into, that’s 320W, or less than 10% of what the Mobile Charger wants.

    Assuming it even works at that minimal output, your 40 hours of charge time just went to 400 hours. Your extra 2 miles of range per charge-hour dropped to 0.2 miles.

    Considering it would take those same 400W solar panels about 2-4 hours of decent sun to fully charge one 200Ah 12V auxiliary battery, and that any attempt to charge your EV off that battery would suck it dry so fast as to be pointless, I won’t even do the math to sort that scenario out. But I used Renogy’s Solar Sizing Calculator to see what they’d recommend for a system:

    So, just to power Ford’s Mobile Charger at the minimum level under ideal conditions, you’d want around 24,000W of solar panels and about 125 deep cycle 12V batteries.

    Couldn’t I just hardwire the solar panels into my EV’s battery bank?

    Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe someday, but for now we don’t know of any EV brand that makes an adapter to go from solar directly into the car’s onboard charging system. That said, we hope someone’s working on a solution. Even so, as the math above shows, the gains from even a 1000W solar system would be trivial.

    What about using a generator?

    Bringing along a small generator would certainly charge your auxiliary batteries faster, and if it had a built-in inverter that you could plug your EV’s mobile charger into, then you’d gain some efficiencies. But, even assuming the generator pumps out reliable 110V power, you’re still looking at only gaining about 5 miles of range for every hour of charging.

    And from an overall efficiency standard, that translates to probably about 5-10 miles per gallon of gas used by your generator…which is, honestly, on par with what many RVs and non-diesel camper vans get in the wild. Except that your vehicle is probably emitting far fewer pollutants than a generator. And less noise. And then you don’t have to bring a generator.

    Bottom line

    Yeah, it’s probably not going to work. Yet.

    OK, but can I at least charge my e-bike with solar power?

    Sure, but you’re still going to have to plug the e-bike’s charger into something, which means an inverter in your van or truck. And that inverter will be pulling from the battery bank that’s charged by your solar panels.

    So, let’s use Bosch’s 4A standard charger as an example. Most camper vans and overland vehicles use 12V deep cycle AGM batteries, which typically have 100Ah capacity. That means you could get about 25 hours of charging (enough for about five full charges of Bosch’s Powertube 500 battery) from a single AGM battery…in a perfect world.

    The problem is the inverter is inefficient, so you won’t get that many charges. And to charge a single AGM 100Ah battery, you’d need a decent amount of solar, and most vehicle’s roof top solar arrays aren’t going to keep up with that draw. So, you’re literally draining your battery bank faster than it can recharge.

    So, yes, you can charge your bikes off your camper van’s auxiliary battery, but it’s going to dramatically cut down on what else you can do with that power.

    Stay tuned…

    So, while you can’t recharge your electric vehicle from roof top solar panels, we’d still definitely recommend adding solar to your camper van or truck, for reasons we’ll cover in future articles. In the meantime, listen to our deep dive into solar, batteries, and power systems for adventure vehicles in this podcast interview with VanDOit!

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