I have found videos and full tutorials how to achieve solar charging with portable solar panels such that you could even non-temporarily affix to the top of the car, and charge when you stop (normally, the car charges through the chafing port when stopped) although regen brakes charge while driving and while driving only.

I’m wondering if the same could be achieved since the cars are set up with a DC inverter, and if so, is there any straightforward way to show mechanic familiar with Tesla’s to be able to set it up?

1 Answer 1


You will find it difficult to locate any information regarding installing solar panels on a motor vehicle of any type for the purpose of providing charging current for motive use.

This is related to the extremely small output per unit area of a solar panel and the extremely high power requirements of an electric motor vehicle.

Additionally, solar panels require optimum angle to the sun to provide rated power. Panels attached to a motor vehicle will not provide for that angle without additional mechanisms, additional complexity and additional weight.

Our house is equipped with 11kW of panels, but again, that rating is valid only during a limited period of clear skies when the sun is at the highest. The 43 panels may produce sufficient power to charge our EVs (only one at a time) if no other electricity is required for the household and only during a limited period of time.

Consider that the roof area of a 1500 square foot house is substantially larger than that of a typical motor vehicle (semi-trailers and coach-class RVs not considered) and the power produced is not likely to charge the typical EV.

You will find an EV here and there with a solar panel integrated into the roof. This is used to provide charging current to the aux battery (12v) that keeps the vehicle computers running, along with other related accessories.

  • When the Toyota Prius was still an infant in the world of motor vehicles, a company was producing a solar panel which would affix to the roof of the car. Their take on it was not to completely charge the hybrid battery, but rather provide it that "little more" amount of energy. They stated it would produce enough of a charge to increase the fuel economy of the car by 10%. While there is no way a solar panel could recharge a Tesla in any meaningful way, it could provide power to lengthen the range or maybe provide enough power to get someone out of a tight spot. Jun 21, 2022 at 10:36
  • That said, your answer really doesn't answer the question at large. It is just your opinion as to why it probably can't be done. I'd have to agree, the question is a very subjective question, which means I don't think it's going to get an objective answer. Jun 21, 2022 at 10:38
  • As I am a hyper-miler, I am able to get 3.5 to 4.5 miles per kilowatt hour on flat surface streets with as aggressive regenerative braking as I can muster. A rather large (for a vehicle mount) solar panel may be 400 watts in full sun. With efficiency losses for conversion and charging, a third of a kilowatt might be possible. One hour of "perfect" sunshine might mean 1.5 miles, but probably not. Smaller panels, less than perfect sunshine, it's not promising.
    – fred_dot_u
    Jun 21, 2022 at 13:19
  • Like I said, the process wasn't about completely recharging, but rather just providing "extra" power which extends range. Even 5% range improvement would be a plus. And then, too, it can continue to charge the batteries even when the vehicle is stationary. This might work really well where the vehicle in question is used for short trips to work and would sit all day (8 hours, let's say). Could easily recharge the amount lost during those short trips. Just a thought. It wouldn't replace plug-in charging, but could definitely assist. Jun 21, 2022 at 14:53

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