How Many Solar Panels Does It Take To Charge a Tesla

Harnessing the sun’s power to charge your Tesla is convenient, saves money, and reduces your carbon footprint.

If you own a Tesla or you’re considering purchasing an electric vehicle, you probably value sustainability and technological innovation.

How about taking it to the next level by charging your EV with renewable energy?

It may sound great in principle, but it can get confusing when you get down to the nuts and bolts.

So, how many solar panels to charge a Tesla?

Read on to find out.

Can You Charge Your Tesla with Solar Energy?

The short answer is yes — absolutely!

Increased demand, improving technology, and generous government incentives have driven residential solar power costs to record lows and skyrocketed return on investment

With the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit, EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra, and the right solar panels, you can achieve solar payback fast, charge up your Tesla, and power your home. 

But before we get ahead of ourselves, how exactly do you determine what kind of solar panels and balance of system you need to meet the charging requirements of your Tesla?

Here’s how you do it…

Understanding Tesla’s Energy Requirements

All Teslas have certain things in common, such as the NACS DC Fast Charge port currently being adopted as the Level 3 standard.

You can’t use solar panels to charge your Tesla with DCFC — at least not yet.

Level 3 is only available at charging stations. And many portable EV chargers can only give your Tesla a tiny boost — sloooowly — using Level 1 charging.

If you want a portable EV charger you can take on the road and top up anywhere there’s sunlight, EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro solar generator is the perfect choice.

But if you need a solution to fully recharge your Tesla and power your home, check out EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra + 400W solar panels

Before you decide which system is right for you, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of how charging your Tesla works.

Let’s take a look.

Tesla Design Parameters

As you would expect, the specs for each Tesla model vary, but there is a remarkable degree of commonality and standardization of design and functionality across the product range.

To a certain degree, what works for a Tesla Model X probably works for a Model Y, but not necessarily for a Cybertruck! 

Before investing in solar panel home charging, pay attention to your Tesla’s unique specs, even when there is Tesla design parameter consistency.

Battery Capacity

Battery capacity is the primary factor determining how many solar panels you need to charge your Tesla.

Tesla Battery Capacity (By Model)

ModelBattery Capacity in Kilowatt-Hours
Tesla Model 357.5 kWh
Tesla Model Y57.5 kWh
Tesla Model Y Long Range Dual Motor75 kWh
Tesla Model Y Performance75 kWh
Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor75 kWh
Tesla Model S Dual Motor95 kWh
Tesla Model S Plaid95 kWh
Tesla Model X Dual Motor95 kWh
Tesla Model X Plaid95 kWh

(Source: EV Database)

The higher the battery capacity of your Tesla model, the more electricity it requires to fully charge. 

Higher capacity doesn’t guarantee higher mileage. A heavier, bulkier vehicle like the Cybertruck consumes more electricity per mile than a compact Model 3. 

However, for example, if you could purchase two Model 3s of the same build — one with 50 kWh capacity and one with 100 kWh — all other factors being equal, the 100kWh Model 3 will cover twice as much ground between charges as the 50 kWh version.  

Tesla Approximate Range in Miles (By Model)

ModelApproximate Range In Miles (Fully Charged Battery)
Tesla Model 3260
Tesla Model Y220
Tesla Model Y Long Range Dual Motor270
Tesla Model Y Performance260
Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor350
Tesla Model S Dual Motor360
Tesla Model S Plaid350
Tesla Model X Dual Motor300
Tesla Model X Plaid280

(Source: EV Database)

Battery capacity for EVs is often expressed by range in miles or kilometers. 

However, storage capacity for mobile EV chargers and portable power stations is almost always given in watt-hours (Wh) and kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Charger TypeMobile ConnectorWall ConnectorUniversal Wall Connector
Product SummaryPortable, convenient charging at any locationOptimal, fast charging with NACS connectorNACS + J1772 – All-in-one solution
Suggested Retail Price*$230$475$595
Installation Cost (Estimated)$0-$1,500$750-$1,500$750-$1,500
EV CompatibilityTesla onlyTesla onlyAll EVs
Plug TypeNACSNACSNACS & J1772
Maximum Input11.5kW (60A circuit breaker at 240V)
Charge Speed (Based on AC Output and Amperage. For Teslas only.)3-30 mphUp to 44 mphUp to 44 mph
Portable?YesNoNo

*As of February 2024 (Source: Tesla

Tesla Home Charging Connectors

Tesla offers three home charging connectors that work with every Tesla model.

Only the Universal Wall Connector provides a J1772 option that’s cross-compatible with EVs from other manufacturers. 

However, the NACS connector — often called the Tesla plug — is being adopted as the industry standard by an increasing number of manufacturers, including Ford, and Toyota/Lexus.

(Source: Lifewire)

EV Charging Levels

Each Tesla connector provides Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (DC Fast Charging) compatibility.

However, to access L2 charging speeds at home or on the road, a 240V electrical outlet is required.

To charge your Tesla at L1, a mobile EV charger must provide a minimum of 1.4 kW and a maximum of 1.9 kW. Most portable EV chargers — sometimes called trickle chargers — can only reach L1 charge loads.

On the other hand, EcoFlow DELTA Pro (3.2 kW AC output @ 240V) and DELTA Pro Ultra (7.2 kW @ 240V) can achieve L2 charge loads at home or on the road. 

L3 charging is not currently available at residential premises or from mobile EV chargers. 

State of Charge (SOC)

State of Charge SOC measures an EV battery’s maximum and minimum charge levels. It’s a similar metric to a fuel gauge in a traditional gas-powered vehicle. 

For most EVs — including Teslas — that use lithium-ion-based battery chemistry, the ideal SOC is about 50%

The Li-ion batteries in Teslas have an operating depth of discharge (DoD) of 20%. Running an EV battery beneath the recommended DoD can permanently damage the unit, diminish overall storage capacity, and significantly reduce the battery’s lifespan.

Conversely, overcharging Li-ion batteries will also reduce cycle life and performance and — in some cases — lead to thermal runaway, fires, and even explosions

Battery Type

The recommended state of charge for Tesla EVs depends on your model’s battery type.

Tesla has always used lithium-ion batteries in its EVs, but more recently, it’s also been equipping specific models with newer subsets of Li-ion battery chemistry like Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA), Nickel-Cobalt-Magnesium (NCM), and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP).

One of the benefits of LiFePO4/LFP batteries — like those found in EcoFlow’s DELTA Series — is that you can charge them to 100% capacity without damage. 

LFP batteries are currently found in Standard Range Teslas Teslas like Model Y and Model 3.

Long Range and Performance Teslas — including Model Y and Model 3 in this class — use traditional Li-ion battery packs, and the recommended SOC range is 20% – 80%.

You can charge the Li-ion batteries up to 100% for extended trips, but keeping them charged at total capacity on an ongoing basis is not recommended. 

How Many Solar Panels Are Required to Charge a Tesla?

Now that you understand the factors impacting how many solar panels are needed to charge a Tesla, let’s look at an example.

Tesla Model 3 has a battery capacity of 57.5 kWh, giving it an average range of 260 miles.

American drivers average 13,476 miles of driving annually — or about 1,123 miles per month. 

Of course, you should substitute your own Tesla model and average driving distance for more accuracy, but let’s stick with this scenario.

If you drive 1,123 miles per month, you’ll need to fully recharge your Tesla Model 3 at least four times to avoid “running out of gas.”

1,123 average miles / 260 miles storage capacity = 4.32 complete recharges

Keep in mind that many factors can influence real-world numbers, including the ambient temperature where you recharge your vehicle and the age of your battery.

It’s also essential to understand that solar panels don’t actually “charge” your Tesla. You can’t attach PV modules directly to an EV — at least not yet!

Instead, your solar panels produce and transmit DC electricity to an on-grid, off-grid, or hybrid portable power station or balance of system.

Let’s use EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro Ultra hybrid solar generator as an example.

EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra is a modular solution that remains portable while also having the capacity to power an entire home — including your Tesla.

The essential specs to consider for EV Charging are:

  • AC Output: 7.2 kW – 21.6 kW (with 3 x inverters)
  • AC Output Voltage: (120V/240V) 
  • Storage Capacity: 6 – 90kWh (with 15 x 6kWh EcoFlow Delta Pro Ultra LFP batteries)  
  • Solar Charge Input (Maximum): 16.8kW with 3 inverters and 42 x 400W Rigid Solar Panels)

One of EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro Ultra’s unique benefits is its expandability. For purposes of this example, let’s use a base model with:

  • AC Output: 7.2 kW @ 240V
  • Battery Capacity: 6 kWh
  • Solar Panels: 8 x 400W Rigid Solar Panels

Fully charging a Tesla Model X from empty requires 57.6 kWh of electricity.

Utilizing Level 2 charging with 7.2 kW of AC output, DELTA Pro Ultra can charge a Tesla Model X from 0 – 100% in 8 hours.

57.6 kWH / 7.2 kW = 8 hours

Next, calculate how many solar panels it would take to 57.6 kWh of electricity.

In laboratory Standard Test Conditions, 8 x solar panels with a rated power of 400W produce 3.2 kWh of electricity per hour. 

In this case, charging a Model X with an empty battery would require a minimum of  18 hours of peak sunlight. 

Depending on the length of your commute, you may not need to fully recharge your Tesla every day.

Peak sunlight hours vary widely by location, but a rough US average is around 5 hours a day.

With the system outlined above and five hours of peak sunlight, you can expect to produce a minimum of 16kWh a day.

16kWh of electricity will recharge a Tesla Model X to almost 30% capacity and provide about 70 miles of driving range.

The average distance between Level 3 DC Fast Charging (DCF) stations — also known as “Superchargers — is estimated to be about 70 miles.

Not only can you recharge your Tesla much faster at a DCF station, but the number of Level and L3 charging stations is set to grow dramatically in the next few years thanks to government funding contained in the Inflation Reduction Act and elsewhere alongside private infrastructure investment.  

If you need to generate more power and maximize your AC output to the 19.2kW Level 2 limit, purchase two more EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra inverters and additional 400W solar panels (up to 42 x 400W modules). 

Factors Influencing the Number of Solar Panels Required

The above calculations should provide a helpful example of how to calculate your EV solar charging requirements. Just plug your specific numbers into the above formulas.

However, there are numerous additional factors you need to consider before making a purchase decision, some of which were mentioned above.

Grid-tied, Off-Grid, or Hybrid: 

There are many makes and models of residential photovoltaic solar panel systems, but they all fall under one of three categories:

  • On-Grid: Solar panels transmit DC electricity to a solar inverter, which converts it into AC electricity for use in your home or transmission to the utility grid.
  • Off-Grid: Solar panels transmit DC electricity to a solar charge controller, which diverts it either to a solar battery for storage or to a solar inverter for conversion into AC electricity for household consumption. As the name suggests, off-grid solar panel systems operate independently of the power grid.
  • Hybrid: Combines the convenience of grid-tied systems with the energy security of off-grid by combining solar + battery storage and connectivity to the electricity grid.

The number of solar panels you require to charge your Tesla reliably varies significantly depending on which of the three configurations your solar panel system falls under.   

(Source: NREL)

Geographical Location

You can estimate the amount of sunlight your solar panels will receive by looking up historical averages of peak and total sun hours or solar irradiance.

Solar irradiance varies widely by state — and even within states. The above map shows Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) and the projected electricity production per m2 (square meter) of photovoltaic surface.

The more sunlight your photovoltaic modules receive daily, the more electricity your solar panels will produce. 

Solar Panel Efficiency and Type

As well as the common usage, efficiency for solar panels is a spec that measures the amount of direct sunlight per square meter of photovoltaic that gets converted into DC electricity. 

Efficiency for polycrystalline solar panels averages around 18%. 

More efficient monocrystalline solar panels — like those manufactured by EcoFlow — have an average efficiency of 23%. 

The more efficient your photovoltaic solar cells, the less installation space (and potentially panels) you’ll need to meet your electricity production goals.  

EV Battery Capacity and Desired State of Charge

No matter what Tesla or other EV model you own, its total battery capacity — measured in kilowatt-hours — and your desired state-of-charge — are you happy charging your vehicle to only 50% of usable capacity, or do you need 100%? — ultimately determine how many solar panels you need.

(Source: Pexels, Kindel Media)

Key Solar Panel System Components to Charge a Tesla Efficiently

Residential photovoltaic modules — including solar panels — don’t provide electricity to charge EVs directly.

Currently, EV charging and virtually every other consumer solar application requires a portable power station with solar input or an alternative balance of system.   

With that in mind, let’s break down the individual solar panel system components required to charge a Tesla effectively.

Solar Panels or Other PV Modules

All current solar technology produces electricity using the photovoltaic effect

Residential PV panels and solar shingles typically use monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon solar cells as photovoltaic material. 

Multiple solar cells are combined in one PV panel, covered in a transparent protective surface like tempered glass, and bound together at the edges using a durable framing material like aluminum or stainless steel.

(Source: Penn State)

Solar Inverter

No matter what kind of residential solar power system you have, a solar inverter is a necessity. 

Think of PV system components as a chain, with the end product being AC electricity for household consumption or transmission to the utility grid. 

A solar inverter is often the chain’s second link after the PV modules that generate DC electricity.

An inverter must convert DC to AC electricity before you can consume it or send it to the grid utilizing a bidirectional power meter and net metering.

(Source: Penn State)

Solar Charge Controller* 

In off-grid and hybrid PV systems, a solar charge controller comes before the inverter in the chain.

As previously stated, PV modules like solar panels capture photons from sunlight to produce DC electricity. Rechargeable solar batteries also store DC electricity, which must be converted to AC for household use.

A solar charge controller conditions and routes DC electricity to either a solar battery for storage or the solar inverter for immediate consumption or transmission back to the grid. 

Battery Management System*

A battery management system (BMS) works in tandem with a charge controller to optimize battery performance, cycle life, and protection against harmful under and overcharging.

Depending on your specific system, a BMS may be built into the charge controller or the solar battery itself.

Solar Battery*

Depending on your solar battery chemistry, the preferred depth of discharge and risks of overcharging will vary significantly.

Lead Acid

  • Average Depth of Discharge: 50%
  • Risk of over/undercharging: Permanent damage and decreased cycle life

Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) 

VRLA lead-acid batteries — often referred to as deep-cycle or sealed lead acid (SLA)

come in two types: absorbent glass mat (AGM) and gel cell (gel battery).

  • Average Depth of Discharge: 70-80%
  • Risk of over/undercharging: Permanent damage and decreased cycle life

Lithium-ion (Li-ion)

  • Average Depth of Discharge: 80%
  • Risk of over/undercharging: Thermal runaway, fire, explosion, permanent damage  and decreased cycle life

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP)

LFP is a newer subset of Li-ion battery chemistry that offers numerous advantages over traditional Lithium-ion.

  • Average Depth of Discharge: 100%
  • Risk of over/undercharging: Minimal

LiFePO4 batteries are found in many Tesla models and all of EcoFlow’s current range of portable power stations and solar generators.

* Not required in grid-tied systems

Smart Home Panel or Transfer Switch*

If you wish to integrate your solar panel array with your home circuit board and wiring, you must hire a licensed electrician to install a Smart Home Panel or transfer switch.

For example, a hybrid solar panel system like EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra can integrate with your existing wiring through the Smart Home Panel 2, giving you unparalleled monitoring and control using the EcoFlow smartphone app from anywhere with an internet connection.

Bidirectional or Smart Meter*

If you’re going to use solar panels to power your home, charge your Tesla, and transmit/consume electricity from the utility grid, a bidirectional meter is a must.

As the name suggests, a bidirectional meter facilitates the transfer of AC electricity to and from the utility grid.

It also monitors how much grid power you consume vs. how much you supply and adjusts your electricity bill accordingly.

If you qualify for net metering, many utilities and power companies will supply you with a smart meter — or you can purchase one yourself.

*Not required for standalone off-grid systems and portable EV chargers

Tesla Home Charging Connector

Your Tesla likely came with a home charge connector when you purchased it. 

If not, you’ll need to purchase one from Tesla or buy an adapter from an after-market manufacturer to match your desired AC input type.  

What Are the Costs of Solar Charging for a Tesla?

The initial cost of purchasing a solar-powered portable or home EV charging solution is significant.

It’s essential to consider your long-term return on investment when determining whether a residential solar power and Tesla charging system is right for you. 

Here are the main factors you should look at.

Initial Investment

If you just look at the sticker price of a residential solar panel system that’s powerful enough to charge a Tesla at least partially, you may be in for a shock.

Teslas consume a significant amount of electricity on the road. Consequently, Tesla battery packs — like all other EVs — require a power source with a substantial amount of AC output.

You must also factor in solar battery storage for off-grid and hybrid systems.

If you only seek to partially charge your Tesla using solar and tap into on-grid power as needed, a grid-tied or hybrid system with fewer solar panels than an off-grid or portable EV charger may meet your needs.

Tesla Solar Home Charger 

Let’s price out a few options. First, we’ll use the hybrid solar panel system detailed in the example above.

1 x EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra (1 x Inverter + 1 x Home Backup Battery): $5799*

8 x EcoFlow 400W Rigid Solar Panels @ $999 for 2: $3996* 

System Cost: $9795

Other potential costs include:

Transfer Switch (Home Circuit Board Integration): $399

Tesla Wall Connector (NACS): $475**

240V Carport Plug Installation for Level 2 Charging: $750 – $1,500**

* Direct from manufacturer prices as of 2/20/24

** As of February 2024 (Source: Tesla

Tesla Portable Solar Charger 

If you prefer a more compact and lightweight EV charger that you can easily take on the road, consider the following system.

1 x EcoFlow EV Backup Charging Solution: $3449*

includes 1 x EcoFlow DELTA Pro + Grounding Adapter + EV X-Stream Adapter (for recharging DELTA Pro at L2 EV charging stations)

2 x EcoFlow 400W portable solar panels @ $999 = $1998*

System Cost: $5447

Neither of these options is well-suited for fully charging a Tesla from 0-100% independently from the grid. 

Realistically, a whole-home hybrid solar panel solution is your best bet for fully charging your Tesla using only PV modules — or at least using solar primarily and supplementing it with utility grid electricity as required.

A significant advantage of opting for a whole home hybrid solar generator is that it should qualify for the 30% Solar Tax Credit, whereas a portable EV charger may not. 

Government and Utility Company Incentives

Residential solar panel systems that are powerful enough to charge a Tesla should also be eligible for the 30% Solar Tax Credit.

Officially known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit, it can save you up to 30% on the total purchase and installation costs of solar panels and an off-grid, grid-tied, or hybrid photovoltaic electricity system.

If you don’t have the budget to purchase a system outright, many no-to-low-interest financing options are available directly from manufacturers. AND your system will still be eligible for the 30% solar tax credit as long as you have a binding contract to purchase the system in full over time. 

You can apply for the credit multiple times without limit, so building your ideal system over an extended period is also an option.

Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act offers incentives for purchasing new eligible EVs as well as an EV Charger credit.  

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit allows individuals in locations deemed by the IRS to be low-income or rural to claim a credit against their federal income tax liability for money spent on “qualified refueling property.” 

There are also many state tax incentives available in addition to federal ones.

And don’t forget the net metering option. 

If net metering is available in your location, you can save — or even make — money by selling excess PV electricity your system generates to your utility provider. 

Understanding Long-Term Savings and Cost per kWh

Once you’ve accounted for all the ways to reduce your upfront solar purchase and installation costs, it’s time to evaluate your long-term return on investment.

Remember, solar energy is a free and virtually inexhaustible resource.

Once you achieve solar payback, the money you save on electricity bills by reducing your cost per kilowatt-hour to zero is essentially cash in your pocket.

Money saved is money earned.

Another way of looking at it is that by investing in a solar panel solution to power your Tesla, you’re essentially pre-paying for electricity at a highly discounted rate for several decades. 

High-quality mountable solar panels typically last 30+ years or more with no significant dip in performance. 

If you invest wisely in the right solar panel solution, the average cost per kWh over the lifetime of your system will be significantly lower than using on-grid electricity to run your home and charge your Tesla.

Your ROI could be even higher if the financial and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels continue to skyrocket.

Investing in a residential solar panel and EV charging solution is a net positive for your bank account, your family’s energy security, and the future of our planet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Solar Do I Need for a Tesla?

The number of solar panels you need to charge your Tesla depends on numerous factors: EV model, driving distance, battery capacity, average sunlight in your location, PV module/balance of system efficiency, and whether you go grid-tied, off-grid, or hybrid. L2 charging requires a minimum AC output of 2.5kW @ 240V. A portable EV charger will need at least 2 x 400W solar panels to be effective.  

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

The time required to charge a Tesla from 0-100% depends on EV model; available sunlight; number, rated power, and efficiency of solar panels; balance of system AC output; and EV charge level (L1 or L2).  If your State of Charge is greater than zero, charge time is reduced. The maximum L2 charge load is 19.2kW AC input. You can achieve that with solar. L3 (DC Fast) charging is only available at charging stations. 

Final Thoughts

There’s no cut-and-dried answer to how many solar panels it takes to power a Tesla.

The big takeaway from this article is that it’s more than possible to charge your Tesla at home using solar power exclusively — or partially by supplementing PV with grid power. 

For a hybrid solar generator that can power your whole home and charge your Tesla, check out EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra.

The modular design allows you to customize the system to meet your needs or expand over time as your requirements increase or your budget allows.

Whether you’re looking for a hard-wired home solar port or a portable EV charger, EcoFlow has a solution. 

Check out our next-generation off-grid and hybrid solar panel systems today.

ECOFLOW
ECOFLOWhttps://www.ecoflow.com/
EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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