Charging Tesla With Solar Panels? Use This Calculator To Find Right Amount

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Tesla | March 27, 2024

Woman standing beside a tesla electric vehicle and scratching her head wondering if charging Tesla with solar panels was possible, while looking at a large solar charger for electric vehicles.

Tesla’s are steadily increasing in popularity, but with the fact that most electric cars are charged using coal-based power plants, many people wonder if charging Tesla with solar panels in a better, more eco-friendly option.

Or…wonder if it’s even possible to charge an electric vehicle with solar panels.

The answer is yes, it’s completely possible to establish the system for charging your Tesla with solar panels. You just need to know how many and how it works.

Measure the amount you’ll need using this solar panel Tesla calculator right now.

In fact, you can calculate your Tesla model’s carbon emissions as well, and find out exactly what the carbon footprint of your car is both with and without solar panels.

Tesla Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of electric vehicles and solar power solutions, and these products combine when charging Tesla with solar panels.22

Tesla Inc. currently has four Tesla vehicles available, namely:

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model X
  • Model Y

The Cybertruck and Roadster are currently open for reservation.1

A plan is in the works to allow electric vehicles to be charged with printed, portable solar cells in regions where charging stations are scarce.22

A photo of a Tesla automobile positioned in front of the company's trademark emblem.

(Image: Tesla Fans Schweiz30)

A Tesla Model 3 car will be navigating the coastline of Australia in September 2022 with only portable solar cells to power the journey.

At the end of the trip, a live map will have calculated the percentage of the journey that was powered solely by solar energy.2

How Long Would It Take To Charge an Electric Car With a Solar Panel?

Other electric vehicles can also be charged with the use of solar panels. When calculating how long it would take to fully charge an electric car with the use of a solar panel, the battery size and voltage of the solar panel/s must be considered.

For instance, if the battery size is 54 kWh and the solar installation is 4kW, the panel would generate 3,400 kWh a year which equals 9 kWh a day.

By this calculation, 6 4kW-solar panels would be required to fully charge an electric car in one day.

If the driver of an electric car drives less than 40 miles per day, the car would not need to be charged to full capacity to reach maximum battery potential, as (for instance) 37 miles per day equals around 12 kWh of electricity.3

Can You Charge an Electric Car With a Portable Solar Panel?

While it is not an easy feat to charge an electric car directory with portable solar panels because the DC current doesn’t go straight from the panels into the car’s battery system.

Also, a portable solar panel doesn’t produce as much energy as a traditional rooftop installed solar panel system.

However, with the use of a solar generator and portable PV panels, it is technically possible to charge an electric vehicle, but the process remains inefficient according to many users and reviewers.23

Solar Panels Needed To Charge Electric Car

If portable solar panels are used to charge an electric car, the following calculation might apply: 8 solar panels producing 400 w each would be required to charge a Tesla that uses 18.1 kWh every 62.13 miles.

The average estimated mileage for American drivers is 13,476 miles, which means that a DC generation capacity of 3.2 kW would be enough.

Closeup shot of small solar panel on top of roof.

(Image: Kindel Media31)

This indicates that 9 portable solar panels should be used to charge an electric car that travels the estimated average mileage.4

Solar Panel on Electric Car

While including a solar panel on the roof of an electric car is not considered to be the most efficient way to charge the vehicle, the first solar electric car was introduced in 2022, namely Lightyear 0.

The car features curved solar panels on the roof and hood and the power generated by the panels adds around 43 miles of driving range every day.

The idea behind the Lightyear 0 is to move electric cars completely away from electrical grids, which still mostly rely on fossil fuel energy.5

In 2022, there are at least 7 other electric vehicles that sport solar roofs as well:

  • Fisker Ocean
  • Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5
  • The Squad Solar City
  • Aptera Sol
  • Wolfgang Thundertruck
  • Sono Motors Sion6

Solar Panel for Plug-In Hybrid

A solar panel can also be used to power a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid car comes with the most powerful solar roof panel on an electric vehicle to date.

The solar roof panel contains 80 monocrystalline cells that generate up to 120 W of power. This system powers the climate controls system and adds around 200 miles to the car’s range every year, without costing the driver anything extra.7

Solar Charger for Plug-In Hybrid

A greener alternative to the traditional EV charger is a solar charger.

White solar-powered car in a charging station with charger plugged in.

(Image: Kindel Media32)

Solar chargers work with solar energy and can also power a traditional electric car charger that has been connected to the required equipment within an existing solar power system.

A solar charger consists of the following:

  • Solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Electric vehicle supply equipment (interface, software, electrical conductors, and safety protocols)
  • Battery storage system

Solar chargers provide reliability, cleaner energy, and cost savings. There are different types of solar chargers for electric cars as well:24

  • Integrated Installation

This type of charger is combined with an inverter to transform DC to AC energy.

  • Separate Installation

In the case of separate installations, microinverters are generally placed underneath each solar panel, which allows each panel to operate on its own. The inversion method allows for the number of microinverters to be expanded to the point where it can accommodate electric car charging.8

Portable Solar Charger for Electric Car

Portable solar chargers consist of portable solar panels, batteries, and a converter. These batteries cannot be charged directly from the solar panels, which is why some portable solar chargers include an attached small solar panel.

These types of solar chargers are usually adequate in powering laptops and other small electronic devices, but because their power absorption capability isn’t high enough, they cannot charge electric cars like the Tesla Model X.9

Best Time To Charge EV With Solar Panels

If there is a time-of-use (TOU) plan in place with the manufacturer of an electric vehicle, the price of electricity changes during the day as well as during the summer and winter seasons.

Along with TOU plans the basics of net metering, when used in relation to electric vehicles, means that full credits apply for unused solar electricity sold back to the utility.

By keeping these two factors in mind, the best time to charge an EV with solar panels can be established:

Applicable Scenario Best Time To Charge EV With Solar Panels10
Net Metering With TOU Off-peak
Net Metering Without TOU Any time, however off-peak charging is ideal to minimize carbon intensity
Net Billing With TOU Off-peak hours if off-peak savings is more than the difference between the retail rate and net billing rate. Otherwise, charge whenever the solar panels are producing solar energy.
Net Billing Without TOU Charge whenever solar panels are producing solar energy

Charging Tesla With Solar Panels

Charging Tesla with solar panels is best when the rate is the lowest (on net metering plans). For some models, like the Tesla Model X, it is best to charge whenever the solar panels are producing the most solar energy.

Off-Grid Solar EV Charger

Wherever an electricity grid connection is unavailable, an off-grid solar EV charger comes in handy. One of the most popular off-grid solar chargers comes in the form of a transportable solar canopy with built-in EV charging capabilities.

PairTree, designed and manufactured by Paired Power, comes in 5 kW units which include 10 bifacial solar panels for each unit. The charging station offers Level 2 charging and is compatible with 120V outlet panels for emergency power.

PairTree delivers up to 75 miles of daily range and can be customized according to individual branding, lighting, and media requirements.11

Can You Charge a Tesla Using Solar Panels?

Charging Tesla with solar panels is possible because the batteries of the electric vehicle can be used to store solar power. Already-installed solar panels for home applications can be used to charge Tesla vehicles.

Read More About: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In Your State? (Hidden Fees, Tax Credits)

How Many Solar Panels To Charge a Tesla?

When calculating the number of solar panels required to charge a Tesla, the following factors come into play:25

  • Average mileage
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Productivity of solar panels

For instance, a Tesla Model 3 consumes around 26 kWh per 100 miles. If the car travels 14,000 miles per year, it equals 38 miles per day.

It must also be noted that some energy is lost during the AC to DC power conversion as well as during charging losses in the battery. It is estimated that these losses total around 15% of electricity lost as heat.

The equation then looks like this:

(fuel economy in kWh per 100 miles) ÷ 100 miles x miles driven per day x 0.15

If the Tesla Model 3 drives 38 miles each day, the equation is as follows:

26 kWh ÷ 100 miles x 38 miles x 0.15 = 1.48 kWh

To calculate the required number of solar panels to charge a Tesla, the roof on which the solar panels are installed, the regional climate, and the efficiency of the solar panels must be factored into the calculation.

For example, if you add the following details to a relevant solar panel calculator, it will look like this:12

Zip code 90210, roof with medium slope to south and no shade, monthly usage.

The calculation is as follows:

1.48 x 30 days = 44.46 kWh per month

Entering these figures into the calculator will see a result advising that a 2.26 kW system is required to power the 340 kWh per month.

Wide front shot of three solar panel systems.

(Image: Nadeem Jafar33)

This equals around 6 to 9 solar panels, depending on the efficiency of the panels.13

Charging Tesla With Solar Panels: How Long To Charge a Tesla With Solar Panels?

Charging Tesla with solar panels takes a while – for instance, the Tesla Model 3 will require around 10 days of charge when solar panels are used.

It should be noted that solar panels are not used exclusively when charging Tesla cars, instead, it is used as a supplemental charging method.

Can You Charge a Tesla With Portable Solar Panels?

Currently, charging Tesla with solar panels is not a viable option, especially when it comes to portable solar panels.

The current technology doesn’t support exclusive charging of Tesla cars with portable solar panels, however, there are studies and plans in the works surrounding the future viability of portable solar panel charging for Tesla vehicles.26

Charging Tesla With Solar Panels

While it is not viable yet to charge Tesla electric vehicles using portable solar panels, it is technically possible to charge these vehicles with a traditionally installed solar panel system.

The following factors determine the energy output of portable solar panels:

  • Size of panel
  • Material
  • Amount of sunshine

According to these factors, the estimated average output of a portable solar panel is around 150 – 200 watts.

(Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) = Watts x Time (hrs) / 1000

If a 200-watt panel is exposed to 7 hours of sun, it will generate 1.4 kWh. (This is the optimum output in direct sun).

Solar panels produce direct current, while Tesla charging ports require an alternating current. An inverter is therefore required to convert DC to AC, and this allows more voltage loss and less efficiency.

A Tesla battery usually holds a capacity of 100 kWh, which means the output of a single solar panel in one day will charge the vehicle to travel only 3 miles (hypothetically). In fact, because there is no guarantee of direct sunshine at all times, one week of non-stop charging will hardly allow for 20 miles.14

How Long Would It Take for Solar Panels To Charge a Tesla?

Charging Tesla with solar panels would take anything from 8 hours up to 10 days.

The process is dependent on the model of the vehicle, the amount of direct sun exposure, energy output, and how long it would take the batteries to reach full charging capacity.

Tesla Solar Home Charging Station

The Tesla solar home charging station, known as Powerwall, is an integrated battery system that preserves solar power for backup purposes.

Should a grid outage occur, the power stays on.

This system can automatically detect outages and recharge with sunlight to keep appliances and electronics going for several days.

DIY Solar Tesla Charger

It is also possible to build a DIY solar Tesla charger or a solar charging station for any electric vehicle.27

DIY solar charging stations can be both on-grid or off-grid, and the off-grid option is the greener alternative.

The components required to build a DIY solar charging station include the following:

  • Solar PV panels
  • Solar inverter
  • Charge controller
  • Battery
  • EV supply equipment

The panels can be installed on a residential roof, garage roof, or a purpose-built structure.

If the DIY solar charging station is intended for a Tesla Model Y, the following requirements apply to charge the vehicle from a low battery:

  • 20-10 hours with level 1 charger (120V outlet)
  • 8-12 hours with AC level 2 charger (220/240V)
  • 15-25 minutes with level 3 charger (480V Tesla Supercharger)

If the Tesla’s mileage is around 30 miles per day, it would consume 7.8 kWh every day according to the 0.26 kWh per mile range. The optimal DIY charger for this Tesla model would be a Level 2 AC charger (240V).

To achieve the 7.8 kWh or 10 kWh each day, 16.67 kWh is required in solar energy every day. In addition, +50% power requirements apply as well as 90% battery and inverter efficiency.

This goal requires 11 solar panels.

The total estimated cost of the components (including quantity) to build a DIY solar Tesla charger is indicated as follows:

Component Quantity Cost15
Solar Panel 11 $3,300
Solar Inverter 1 $1,000
Charger Controller 1 $800
Battery 1 $10,000
EV Supply Equipment 1 $3,000
Miscellaneous (including cabling) $200
TOTAL $18,300

How Many Powerwalls To Charge a Tesla?

To ensure functionality and operation during grid failures and power outages, at least one Powerwall is required for each 7.6 kW AC of solar energy that has been included in the backup circuit.

How Many Solar Panels To Charge a Tesla Powerwall?

On average, a single Powerwall requires a 6-kW system, which totals around 20 solar panels.

How Many Solar Panels To Charge a Tesla Powerwall 2?

When it comes to the Tesla Powerwall 2, there isn’t a certain required number of solar panels to keep it charged.28 Smaller residential homes may need up to two panels, while larger homes may need up to four panels.

Powerwalls can also be installed without solar panels, using the electrical grid. While using regular electricity, the Powerwall keeps storing energy for later use, which keeps the electricity costs down.

Tesla Powerwall 2 Cycle Life

The Tesla Powerwall 2 comes in an AC and DC coupled version, with the AC version allowing for the use of any brand of solar inverters, including micro inverters.

The AC Powerwall 2 battery efficiency stands at 89% while the DC version is at 91.8%.

The Powerwall 2 warranty is as follows (including the operating limitation or cycle life):

Application Energy Retention Operating Limitation16
Solar self-consumption/backup only 70% at 10 years following the initial installation date Unlimited cycles
Any other application or combination of applications 70% at 10 years following the initial installation date 37.80 MWh of aggregate throughput

How Many Solar Panels To Charge a Tesla Model 3?

To charge a Tesla Model 3 battery, around 5 solar panels are required to get 40 miles of range. When a higher driving range is required, more solar panels are needed.

This is based on the average solar panel with an output of 350 watts under the full sun (3 to 7 peak sun hours each day).

Wide shot of EV solar charging station with cars parked within the vicinity.

(Image: Kindel Media34)

The solar panel produces between 1.05 to 2.45 kWh of electricity daily:

(350 x 3 at the low end / 350 x 7.5 at the high end)17

Tesla Model 3 Solar Charging

The Tesla Model 3 is a flagship vehicle, and it was the best-selling car in the world in April 2020. There are three versions available, and it comes with features usually reserved for traditional vehicles, including automated lane switching and parking.

In addition to all its features, this Tesla model is also the company’s most affordable vehicle.

The average charging time for a Tesla Model 3 is around 7 hours. The following table indicates charge times for the different versions of the Tesla Model 3:

A graph displaying the charge duration variations among various versions of the Tesla Model 3.

Model Year Max Charge Rate Battery Size Charge Time on Level 118 Charge Time with JuiceBox 4818 All Electric Range18
Model 3 Standard Range Plus (2019) 11.5 kW 75 kWh ~3 days ~7 hrs 240 miles
Model 3 Long Range (2019) 11.5 kW 100 kWh ~3 days ~9 hrs 310 miles
Model 3 Standard Range Plus (2020) 11.5 kW ~75 kWh ~3 days ~7 hrs 250 miles
Model 3 Long Range (2020) 11.5 kW ~100 kWh ~3 days ~9 hrs 322 miles
Model 3 Performance (2020) 11.5 kW ~100 kWh ~3 days ~9 hrs 322 miles

Charging Tesla With Solar Panels

To charge a Tesla Model 3 battery once a month, the following calculations apply:

9.3 kWh per day / 5 hours of sunlight per day = 1.86 kW to satisfy energy demands

Taking into consideration minor loss during power conversion, this should be divided by 78 percent:

1.86 kW / .78 = 2.38 kW

Then the number of kilowatts required should be divided by the power rating of the solar panels to calculate the average number of solar panels required: (the average domestic solar panel produces 250 watts).29

2.38 kW / .25 kW = 9.52 solar panels

Tesla Powerwall 3 Price

Tesla Powerwalls cost anything from $12,500 to $87,500 depending on the number of Powerwalls required. The below table highlights the average cost per quantity, including applicable discounts:

A graphical representation of the pricing and discount details pertaining to the Tesla Powerwall 3.

Number of Powerwalls Powerwall Cost19 Discount19
1 $11,500 $0
2 $18,500 $4,500
3 $25,500 $9,000
4 $32,500 $13,500
5 $40,500 $17,000
6 $48,500 $20,500
7 $56,500 $24,000
8 $64,500 $27,500
9 $72,500 $31,000
10 $80,500 $34,500

Tesla Powerwall Monthly Cost

In 2022, the average cost of a Tesla Powerwall is $11,050 and the Powerwall also qualifies for the 30% Clean Energy Credit. The different costs are indicated as follows:

  • Powerwall without solar panels – $11,050
  • Powerwall with solar panels – $28,276 (not counting state and federal tax incentives)
  • Powerwall with solar roof – $21.85 per square foot20

Some utilities offer the battery free of charge and then a monthly fee of $37.50 which adds up to an interest-free 14-year plan.

Does Tesla Powerwall Save Money?

Making use of the Tesla Powerwall ensures a reduction in energy bills which leads to money savings over the long term. The federal solar tax credit adds extra savings to the purchase of the Powerwall.

Tesla Powerwall Calculator

Calculating the return on investment for a Powerwall and its accompanying solar panel requirements depends on the following inputs:

  • Arbitrage (In-Out)
  • Grid Input Only
  • Solar Input Only

One Powerwall can cost up to $6,700, excluding the estimated installation cost of $2,000. The more Powerwalls are installed for one purpose or residential home, the less the savings will be because savings only occur when peak usage exceeds the current storage capacity and generation abilities of the existing system.

Furthermore, the savings depend on hourly usage, production, hours/rates of the relevant power company, and average peak household use.

The following data can be entered into a calculator to determine savings:

  • Imported grid usage data
  • Solar data
  • Solar production (estimate)
  • Rate periods
  • Number of Powerwalls

This data and relevant information about money spent on the Powerwall/s and solar systems will reveal the estimated return on investment.21

Similar calculators can be used to determine and establish solar panel requirements (numbers), cost savings on EV solar charging, and other essential information especially when charging Tesla with solar panels.

Frequently Asked Questions About Charging Tesla With Solar Panels

How Can You Charge a Tesla With Solar Panels?

Install solar panels on house or garage roof and utilize the solar energy to power a Tesla vehicle.

Is Charging Tesla Model 3 From Solar Possible?

A Tesla Model 3 can be charged using roughly 6 to 10, 400W solar panels.

Is Tesla Powerwall Worth It?

A Tesla Powerwall can maximize savings on solar systems and help reach greener energy goals.

What Percentage Should a Tesla Battery Be Charged To?

Ideally it should be charged to the ‘daily range’ which is up to 90%.

Is Supercharging Faster Than Traditional At-Home Charging?

Yes, because superchargers avoid the onboard vehicle charge, and instead provides up to 120 kW of DC power to the battery.


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