Charging With Solar

Can You Charge An EV With Solar?

Yes, you can charge an EV with solar energy. By installing solar panels, sunlight is converted into electricity, powering your vehicle sustainably. This fusion of solar and EV tech offers eco-friendly and cost-effective charging solutions, making green transport even greener.

charging your ev with solar

Initial Thoughts

With the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), many businesses and individuals in the Chicagoland area are seeking sustainable ways to power their rides. As we at Chicago EV proudly provide top-notch commercial EV charger installations through our preferred partnership with Enel X, a question we frequently encounter is: “Can you charge an EV with solar energy?” The answer is a resounding yes! Let’s explore how it works and why it might be the perfect solution for you.

Understanding Solar Energy Basics

Solar energy, in essence, is the power derived directly from the sun. This colossal star, located at the heart of our solar system, emits an astronomical amount of energy every second. Even though only a fraction of that energy reaches the Earth, it’s more than enough to meet the entire world’s energy demands.

The principle behind harnessing this energy is the photovoltaic effect. When sunlight (comprised of photons) hits a solar cell—usually made from silicon—it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As these electrons move through the cell, they generate an electric current. This electricity can then be used immediately or stored in batteries for later use.

As a clean and renewable energy source, solar power stands in stark contrast to fossil fuels, which release carbon emissions and other pollutants.

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

The sun, a vast and continuous source of energy, delivers more power to Earth daily than humanity uses in a year. Tapping into this abundant energy to fuel electric vehicles is an innovative leap towards sustainability.

This solar magic is captured using solar panels, primarily composed of silicon cells. When these cells are hit by sunlight, they experience the photovoltaic effect. In simpler terms, photons from the sun excite the panel’s electrons, producing an electric current. This generated electricity is either used immediately or stored for future needs.

Modern solar panels have achieved impressive efficiencies, converting around 15-20% of received sunlight into electricity. In regions like Chicago, with variable sunlight due to changing seasons and weather, optimal panel positioning is vital. Typically, south-facing installations with a strategic tilt ensure maximum sunlight capture. Some advanced setups even track the sun’s movement, optimizing exposure throughout the day.

In essence, by converting sunlight into electricity, we merge nature’s boundless power with cutting-edge technology, paving the way for a sustainable transportation future.

solar powered commercial ev charging station

Benefits of Solar-Powered EV Charging

As electric vehicles surge in popularity, the method of powering them becomes a pivotal decision. Solar-powered EV charging emerges as a front-runner, not only for its environmental advantages but also for its long-term economic and societal benefits. Before diving into these perks, let’s shed light on why harnessing the sun can revolutionize your EV experience.


Charging your EV with solar power reduces your carbon footprint. By utilizing the sun, a renewable energy source, you avoid the greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional electricity generation.

Cost Savings

After the initial investment in solar panels, the electricity they produce is essentially free. Over time, this can translate into substantial savings, especially when considering the rising costs of traditional electricity.

Energy Independence

With a solar setup, you reduce your reliance on the grid. This can be particularly advantageous during peak demand times or power outages.

Positive Brand Image

For businesses, showcasing a commitment to green initiatives can enhance your brand’s image and attract environmentally-conscious customers.

Compatibility with Various EV Models

One of the beautiful aspects of solar-powered EV charging is its versatility. Irrespective of the make or model of the electric vehicle, the energy derived from the sun can be used to charge it. Whether you own a Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, or any other EV, the electric current produced by solar panels is converted into a form compatible with the vehicle’s battery.

It’s essential, however, to ensure that the EV charging station—like those from Enel X, which we proudly install—is appropriately rated for your vehicle’s charging specifications. While the energy source (solar) remains consistent, the rate at which different vehicles charge and the connectors they use might vary.

Thankfully, most modern solar EV charging stations are equipped to accommodate a broad range of electric vehicles, making the transition seamless for EV owners.

electric vehicle plugged in to charger

How to Set Up Solar-Powered EV Charging

Venturing into the realm of solar energy for your EV needs might seem daunting, but with the right guidance, the transition is smoother than you’d imagine. Establishing a solar-powered EV charging station is a combination of technical setup and strategic planning. Let’s embark on a step-by-step journey to illuminate the pathway of integrating solar energy into your EV charging infrastructure.


Determine the energy needs of your EVs and the potential solar output for your location. This will help you understand how many panels you’ll need.


After selecting a suitable area, solar panels and the necessary equipment are installed. This setup can be integrated with your commercial EV charger, like the top-tier Enel X chargers we specialize in at Chicago EV.


Once installed, the system is connected to your EV charger and, if desired, to the electrical grid. This allows any excess energy produced to be sent back to the grid, potentially earning you credits on your electricity bill.


Regularly check your solar panels for debris and ensure they’re working efficiently. While solar panels require minimal maintenance, occasional checks will ensure optimal performance.

Final Thoughts

Pairing solar energy with EV charging is a visionary approach to sustainable transportation. Not only does it benefit the environment, but it also offers significant economic advantages. At Chicago EV, we’re committed to helping Chicagoland embrace a greener future.

If you’re interested in integrating solar power with your commercial EV charging solution, our team is here to guide you every step of the way. Together, we can drive towards a brighter, cleaner tomorrow.