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Electric Vehicles and Solar Power | Solar Energy USA Blog Archive

Electric Vehicles and Solar Power

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013 at 11:53 am by Solar Energy USA
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There are many reasons to be excited about the growing popularity of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) which run not on gasoline but on electricity. Driving an EV reduces dependence on fossil fuels and saves dramatically on fuel costs.

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A rooftop solar power system can enable you to drive completely emissions free while dramatically reducing your energy bills. And in Georgia, many utilities have special EV energy rates that can help you pile on the savings. Solar Energy USA will help you manage the process of switching rates with your utility provider.

Some FAQs on electric vehicles:electric-vehicles-nissan-leaf-tesla-roadster-tesla-model-s-chevy-volt-toyota-rav4-ev

What is a plug-in electric vehicle?

There are three types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs); plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and battery electric vehicles.

Plug-in hybrids, such as a converted Toyota Prius, are powered through a combination of gasoline and electricity.

The Chevy Volt is an example of a plug-in extended-range electric vehicle and was introduced in the fall of 2010. The Volt uses an electric motor to power its drive-train.  Once the Volt’s battery pack is fully discharged, a separate gasoline engine starts up and powers a generator which then supplies the electricity to the electric motor drive-train.

Battery electric vehicles have no gasoline engine and run exclusively on the energy stored in the on-board batteries. The Tesla Roadster, Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus EV, and Wheego LiFe are examples of highway-capable, battery electric cars.

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How much does an all-electric passenger vehicle cost to operate?

Using the national average electric rate of $.12 per kWh, the 100-mile Nissan Leaf would cost about $2.88 to fully charge, that’s less than $0.03 cents per mile. By comparison, that same distance in a gasoline car that gets 25 miles per gallon (the 2008 national average MPG) would cost $15.40 or $0.154 per mile.  Compare the costs to operate your traditional fuel car against the costs to charge an electric vehicle here.

Another example:

If you drive a pure battery electric vehicle 12,000 miles a year at current electricity rates (assuming $.12 per kilowatt hour though rates vary throughout the country), you’ll pay about $389 per year for the electricity to charge your battery, but you’ll save about $1200 in gas (assuming $3 per gallon, a 30 miles per gallon vehicle, and 12,000 miles driven). So $1200 minus $389 equals $811 in savings – a 68% reduction in fueling costs!

Electric vehicle owners also may be able eligible for additional savings on electricity costs associated with their car. Georgia Power, for example, offers a rate specifically for plug-in electric vehicle owners.  Owners should ask their local utility company to find out more information.

When will plug-in electric vehicles arrive in Atlanta?

Modest numbers of plug-in electric vehicles – the Wheego LiFE, Tesla Roadster, Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy Volt – are already on the streets of Atlanta.  Atlanta is also one of 20 cities in the U.S. selected by Ford Motors slated to receive the all-new Focus Electric, which debuted in late 2012.

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There are currently an estimated 1,500 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles cruising the streets of metro Atlanta, and projections point to that number reaching 20,000 by 2015!

Some thoughts about powering electric vehicles with solar power:powering-your-ev-with-solar-panels

The technology to power your EV with solar power is already available. The investment in solar panels pays off faster when the solar power is not only replacing grid electricity, but replacing much more expensive gasoline. According to Plug In America, EVs typically travel three to four miles (or more) per kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity.

If you drive 12,000 miles per year, you will need 3,000-4,000 kWh. Depending on where you live, you will need a 1.5kW-3kW photovoltaic (PV) system to generate that much power for your vehicle using about 150 to 300 square feet of space on the roof of your home. For both vehicle and other home electricity needs, you will need about 7-10 kW of solar power in total on your roof.

What about charging stations?

EV charging stations are available to purchase for home use. Solar Energy USA offers a number of EV charging stations including the popular 25 Amp ClipperCreek LCS-25 Level 2 home charging station. Currently, there are about 100 public Level 2 charging stations available for use around metro Atlanta:

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A good resource for finding electric vehicle charging station location in metro Atlanta is the DOE Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locator Website. Additionally, a number of apps are available for location EV charging stations on your iPhone or other smart phone device:

Ready to talk to a Solar Energy USA energy consultant about solar power and electric vehicles? Click here to contact us.

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