Charging EVs with a Solar Rooftop, A Great Combination

With the world in a turbulent period with many changes happening, one such change is energy generation. The way energy is produced is a big topic, with fossil fuels losing popularity with newer cleaner energy technologies coming forward. Renewables such as Solar and Wind offer great solutions for clean, green energy, and indeed electrification is a big topic, especially after the last COP26 conference. So can we agree that Solar + EVs are a great combination?

Electric vehicles, or EVs as they are commonly known, are becoming ever popular and indeed affordable. With many countries making commitments to phase out petrol and diesel trucks and cars over the next decade, there will be a significant shift towards electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

Any electric vehicle will need charging either for an extended period, overnight or during the daytime. Or via EV Charging stations at various locations such as petrol stations, malls, restaurants, condominiums etc. We are seeing instances where companies install EV charging points for employees allowing you to charge your car when at work which is a nice touch allowing you to get a full charge saving you from doing it at home, saving you the cost. Hotels are starting to install EV chargers and charging stations for guests, it has even become an expected facility for some travellers and will become a selling point for rooms in the future. Even condominiums are getting in on the act by installing EV Charging Stations for tenants and charging a fee for the service.   

Let’s Get Acquainted with EV Charging

Understanding the EV Charging Process

Unlike petrol or diesel power cars, EVs being battery operated are rated by range the number of kilometres the car can be driven on a full charge.  It’s essential to know and plan your trip to ensure you have enough range or you can find charging stations along your route. You must also consider charging times; these vary a lot depending on the size of the battery.

If we look at the MG ZS EV, the range is about 335kM on a full charge. The battery is 44.5 kWh. Using a 22kW charging station will take you around two hours to charge your battery if it is empty (never a good idea). So planning is essential when using EVs.   

If you charge your EV at home and have a single-phase 7kW charging station, a full charge will take around 6-7 hours.

Here is a link to an excellent site to find out about the range and energy consumption of EV cars

The Various Types of EV Chargers

EV chargers convert AC electricity to DC electricity to charge your DC EV battery. The time it takes to charge is dependent on the size and rating of your EVs battery. Most EVs come with a Type1 charger; these are the type that you can plug into a standard wall socket at home. These chargers are relatively slow, and it can take you a good few hours to fully charge your EV with one of these.  Installing an EV charger at home is a safer and faster option.

If you have a Solar PV System installed, you will want to charge your EV during the daytime, either at home or at work taking advantage of the free energy produced by the system.

Here is a list of standard home chargers available.

  • 7kW Single Phase, either with just a socket (you have your charging cable) or a Type2 plug with a 5-8m cable.  For these chargers, the installation is simple as the charger is considered a ‘load’. A dedicated 32A circuit will need to be installed.
  • 22kW Three-Phase comes with a Type2 plug with a 5-8m cable.  The installation needs a dedicated 32A three-phase circuit installed.
  • 44kW Three-Phase, home, or light commercial use. These come with a Type2 plug with a 5-8m cable. This installation needs a 63A dedicated three-phase circuit installed.

For light commercial use such as restaurants, condominiums, shopping malls etc., dedicated multi-plug EV chargers can be installed. These will usually be three-phase 22kW or 44kW systems and may be free to use. For these types of installations, installing a Solar Rooftop to assist the charging is a good solution, especially if the service is offered free of charge.

Installation of EV Charging Stations

Installing a home or business EV charging station should be carried out by certified electricians only. The basic 7kW chargers are relatively simple to install, but a new circuit needs to be run from the existing consumer unit, and the cables need to be sufficient to supply the full 7kW load. This circuit may need RCBO protection installed (depending on the installed EV charger).

The installation is more involved for the three-phase EV chargers, as the loads are higher than standard loads. A complete inspection of the distribution board, feeder cables and the utility meter will need to be carried out and may need to be upgraded. Contact Kunini for all your installation enquiries and questions.

Some Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do keep your EV Charger out of direct sunlight; this will help with the heat buildup and life of the unit.
  • Keep the charging cable coiled up after use to protect it from damage.
  • Do not use an extension lead to charge your EV for Type1 chargers.
  • If you have a Solar PV System installed, make sure your EV charger is connected to it, or you won’t get the benefit of free daytime charging.

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