The Best Time to Charge Your Electric Vehicle with Solar Panels

The world is rapidly shifting towards sustainable energy solutions, and electric vehicles (EVs) combined with solar panels are becoming increasingly popular. If you’re one of the lucky individuals who have both solar panels and an electric car, you might be wondering: when is the best time to charge my EV? Well, it all depends on what you want to achieve – financial savings, reduced environmental impact, or being a responsible grid citizen. Let’s explore the options!

Financial Optimization: Save the Most Money

Net Metering

In Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC, where Ipsun Solar installs solar panels, net metering rules are in place. These rules allow each electron produced by your solar panels to be either used in your building or pushed onto the grid, earning you credits. The best part? The credits are on a one-to-one ratio, meaning you get paid the same for the electricity you put onto the grid as it would have cost you to retrieve it. So, if financial savings are your primary goal, it doesn’t matter whether you consume the solar power immediately or use it later. The utility will charge you based on the net difference between what you consumed and what you put onto the grid.

Time Of Use (TOU)

Some utilities have implemented Time Of Use (TOU) billing systems, where electricity prices vary depending on the time of consumption. Typically, power is cheaper at night, more expensive during the day when demand is high, and reduces back in the evening. To encourage consumers to shift their power consumption to off-peak hours, utilities incentivize consuming electricity when it’s the cheapest. If you have a TOU setup with solar, charging your car with solar power during the day when you earn more for the excess electricity and charging it at night when rates are lower would maximize your financial savings. However, it’s important to note that not all utilities allow this setup, as some may have specific utility rates for solar and electric vehicle chargers that cannot be used simultaneously.

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Environmental Impact: Minimize Pollution

To minimize the pollution associated with charging your EV, it is best to use clean power locally. By doing so, you reduce the need for additional power from other sources that would have to be transmitted through the grid, resulting in energy losses at each step. These losses contribute to pollution. So, the key to reducing your environmental impact is to charge your car when the sun is shining and your solar panels are producing clean energy.

Being a Responsible Grid Citizen: Reduce Stress on the Grid

Our national grid infrastructure is aging, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to use it sparingly. If your solar panels produce more power than your car needs, charging your car directly from the solar panels during the day is the ideal solution. However, if your car requires more power than your panels can provide, it’s better to charge at night. During nighttime, the power being generated mainly comes from baseload plants, such as coal, nuclear, and fossil gas facilities. By charging your car at night, you become part of the baseload, reducing stress on the grid during peak daytime hours when it is most strained.

Remember, the decision of when to charge your electric vehicle with solar panels ultimately depends on your goals. Whether it’s financial savings, environmental concerns, or being a responsible grid citizen, understanding the different factors at play can help you make an informed choice. So, go ahead and harness the power of the sun to fuel your electric vehicle while contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.

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