dedicated solar charging - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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dedicated solar charging

Has anyone built / installed a dedicated solar charging station? If so, would you please share your design specs?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 11:44 AM
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You want to grid-tie your solar. Plenty of info out there on design. What use case would require dedicated solar charging? It would waste the charging capabilities any time the car is fully charged or not present, unless you install a storage battery, in which case it would waste the charge any time the battery is full... which leads us back to grid-tie.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 12:34 PM
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The only way a dedicated solar charging station would make sense if you lived miles away from any electric grid infrastructure. It would be crazy expensive to buy one since you would need an inverter or have a way to run DC directly to your car.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by glassTransition View Post
Has anyone built / installed a dedicated solar charging station? If so, would you please share your design specs?

There are off-the-shelf solutions built-in to solar inverters. Me thinks this isn't what you're looking for. Rest assured, what you ask is technologically possible, but likely would be impractical and prohibitively expensive.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 01:47 PM
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+1 for what @GregBrew said - you want a grid tied solar system - and then charge the car at night when rates are low - power used at night to charge your EV will be offset by the solar power you generated during the day...

what you are asking for is technically feasible but for reasons already mentioned, plus

1. solar does not generate a continuous current - all day it changes - you'd need a charger to ramp up/down to match current solar production - technically feasible but impractical
2. power will be lost when the car isn't there to receive it
3. you can't charge at night
4. solar generates DC, EVSE charging on the Bolt uses AC, unless you build a Fast DC charger that is run off of solar
5. you'll want to charge the car on cloudy days and in the winter when solar produces less, you'll need the grid to make up any short fall.
6. people typically drive their cars during the day and particular during prime solar production hours 10 am - 2 pm

what you are asking is technically feasible, but from a practical point of view there are existing better solutions and solar still ends up providing a lot of the power you use to charge your car - but it's usage is shifted to off peak hours using credits you generated during the day.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 04:55 PM
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Ditto. My car is solar powered. The grid is my energy storage ["battery"]. I make about 6 mWh/year, use about 5 for the house and 1 for the car.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 05:45 PM
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Ditto. My car is solar powered. The grid is my energy storage ["battery"]. I make about 6 mWh/year, use about 5 for the house and 1 for the car.
How many miles do you do in the car? My Bolt EV uses a lot more annual. Its about 4 miles per kWh, so 10000 miles uses 2500 kWh or 2.5 MWh. So, for the average 12000 miles annual, most Bolt EVs should be burning 3 MWh per year. So, unless you drive a very few miles, 4000 miles a year, your numbers are a bit off. Not as though its very important to anyone but me, my roof solar gives my 10 MWh per year, and I use 2-3 MWh per year driving.
The real magic is the net cost of driving an EV. So, for example, if your solar covers all your electrical needs then fuel for your EV is $0 per mile. If your solar covers 50% of your needs, then half of your KWh come from the grid, which is very likely dependent to some degree or other on fossil fuels and costs you actual money, but only half of what it would cost you without roof solar.

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Last edited by rgmichel; 06-24-2019 at 05:46 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 12:41 AM
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This place has solar

I know nothing about the solar side. In the state of Wisconsin, it's very solar unfriendly. In fact, it's in the news this week that the utility is raising the rates for solar customers, using the argument they have to have the same infrastructure in place, etc. But this is at a Tesla Body Shop, they have lots of Tesla's there and they will be the first to tell you the repair times are much shorter than reported here. In any case, send me a PM and I can give you the owners contact info if you have any interest. He has a bank of chargers, all types, Tesla and non. All free and he has a large solar array as well. He's a techie.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the replies. I should have said that I ultimately plan to get to a grid-tied system. Permitting is a PITA here in Maryland even though we claim to encourage green endevours. To make things worse, I live in a critical area near the Chesapeake Bay which adds yet another level of pain. For the capstone, I want to install the system myself (I'm a EE with many years of practical experience) and have gotten all kinds of reasons why I can't. My life and career have proven that part wrong so it's more of an irritant than anything else.

So in the meantime, I would like to start experimenting with the components as a learning exercise in a "temporary", grid-DISconnected configuration. I envisioned a minimal number of panels and an inverter. used along with the EVSE I already own (which I installed). I want provision for storage, however, I'm not sure when I would actually buy that part because it is still too expensive for me to justify. I am not pursuing this as a purely monetary exercise BTW so I don't care overly much about break-even times, fully charging the Bolt or any other reason why this would be ill-advised from a practical, long-term perspective.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 02:24 PM
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I have no idea how to do this using a minimal number of panels. The Bolt would need a continuous draw from an EV charging unit and fluctuations from a small unit wouldn't be possible. You would need a larger system and preferably have a battery back-up to capture the remaining electrons. I would imagine you would need a 4 kW to 5 kW array to charge at 16 amps. What would happen as well if it was cloudy? your system would be constantly shut on and off for charging. I don't know how the Bolt would handle this. So to charge at under 2 kW you would need to spend about $10,000. If you add battery back-up it would be even more.
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