We're thinking about getting an EV - any advice on costs, chargers, tariffs, and whether to also get solar panels?

  • 10 February 2020
  • 9 replies

We are OVO customers, part way through a two-year fixed deal, and are now looking at the possibility of switching to an EV. The V2G plan reads like a good idea too.

We’re looking at the possibility of solar panels on the south-facing garage roof, and charging equipment for a car, though we have not yet decided which car (there are just too many new ones in the pipeline at present). We have test-driven a few - including a three-day loan of a Kia E-Niro from one dealer and were very impressed (with both car and dealer). 

The power to the house comes in via the garage - the consumer unit is inside, meter is in the wall (access from outside for reading). 

We (obviously! :wink: ) want to take advantage of any Government grants but it seems we can’t start any serious planning or get quotations until we actually acquire an EV car. 

Any advice from those who have already taken the plunge will be gratefully accepted. 


9 replies

Userlevel 5

A detail or two.

The OVO V2G trial is Nissan Leaf only.

Check the size of the main fuse fitted just ahead of the meter. 100A and you should be fine.

If you are considering solar panels for electricity do not forget that solar water panels are a lot more efficient (4x) at producing hot water than diverting the solar electricity into a heater element.

e-niro is a very good ev, but has a long waiting list last time I checked.

Thanks NoPoke - we have gas central heating and hot water (and a fairly new boiler) so will stick with that at least for the time being. Also, most of the plumbing is at the other end of the house, which would complicate things.

We did try a Leaf but it didn’t grab us.

Signing off for tonight...

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

If you are having solar, the zappi charger is your best bet, it can automatically divert surplus PV to the car battery once you are generating more that 1.4kW (The minimum according to EV charging specs)


You should make up your mind quickly as our dear Government are about to withdraw the £3,500 grant for purchasing an EV, in March I think and you certainly won’t get the KIA in that timescale.

Userlevel 5

If you are considering solar panels for electricity do not forget that solar water panels are a lot more efficient (4x) at producing hot water than diverting the solar electricity into a heater element.

Can I check from your experience please?  Is either actually efficient enough?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, and my research last year, solar water panels cost £4000-£5000 to install, and payback is only something like £60 a year. That agrees with estimates I got, and our summer cost of gas (when it is only heating water) is £6 a month (plus standing charge of more than that!), which is when solar is mostly available.

That suggests payback of over 60 years. That is surely pushing the lifespan of the various parts of the system, if not beyond?

I also looked at installing a system to automatically use the surplus from our solar panels to heat the water with a normal immersion, but it was costly and didn’t make commercial sense either. Manually turning the immersion on when there is a big excess was an alternative, but even then with gas so cheap I’d lose more in terms of export payment.

Userlevel 5

I believe a lot of the cost of installing solar water is in scaffolding and roof access. If you already have that in place for the PV to be fitted, adding solar water ought to not be a huge increase.   

The efficiency I was referring to was the physics/engineering efficiency not necessarily return on capital.

There are these things https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200-LTS-Solar-Energy-Heater-Hot-Water-Boiler-Panel-Evacuated-Tube-Thermosiphon/192336585862?hash=item2cc8276486:g:sgAAAOSwRDtZw3En  which are very popular on the continent.


Userlevel 5

Thanks @NoPoke 

Understood. Our solar panels went up in 2015, and local installers were EV or water but not both . 

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

Just for information, I installed a diverter to use surplus PV to the immersion heater in 2014.  I calculate my savings based on the cost of gas saved assuming a 50% efficiency of heating the hot water tank indirectly from the gas boiler.

The diverter cost £300 and installation was free, my savings for the first six years are £53.18, £35, £36.36, £26.96, £36.20 and £40.61 totalling £228.31 so it should pay for itself over the next three years, not my best investment but I am getting 55.36p per kWh generated, that’s my best investment, ROI 100% after 9yrs, 2 months

Userlevel 5

Must be great to be able to install it yourself. 

Userlevel 7

Just checking in on this one, @nearlythere - which EV model did you land on in the end? 


How are you finding it? 


Fancy letting everyone know in a review style topic like the one here?



For you or anyone else still pondering a change to electric vehicles, check out the latest leasing offer: