If you're thinking about getting an electric vehicle (EV), you've probably fantasized about driving in the HOV lanes and conserving fossil fuels. But there's that nagging question: how do you charge your car at home without watching your energy bill go through the roof?
Well, we've got good news for you. It's called an EV charging station, and – even better – it pairs perfectly with solar.
The Lure of an EV
Driving an EV definitely has its benefits. HOV lanes are free, so you can shorten your commute time. It's also cheaper to drive. According to Consumer Reports, it costs about 3.5 cents a mile to drive an EV compared to a regular gas-powered car, like the 32-mpg Toyota Corolla, which costs 12 cents a mile.
And then there are the rebates. The IRS will give you up to a $7,500 credit for purchasing an EV. You can also check state-by-state incentives.
But one of the coolest perks is you don't have to go to a gas station. You can charge your EV's battery at home, which is super convenient. So how does that work?
The Skinny on EV Charging Stations
Some EV owners just use a regular wall socket to charge their EV. But at 120 volts, that can take some time. A Level 2 EV Charging Station uses 240 volts – the same as your electric oven or clothes dryer – and can charge your EV battery twice as fast as that 120-volt outlet charger, according to Green Car Reports.
The Level 2 allows for a wide range of charging speeds all the way up to 19.2 kilowatts (kW), or about 70 miles of range per hour of charging.
More and more EV owners are investing in Level 2 charging stations. A Green Tech Media report focusing on plug-in EV drivers in California found that two thirds of those surveyed had installed a Level 2 charging station at home (88 percent were Nissan Leaf owners). And of those two-thirds, 64 percent had purchased a subsidized charger.
Now here's the kicker. Almost 90 percent of the EV drivers lived in a single-family home, and – get this – a third of them had solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at home. Are they on to something? Maybe.
Solar PV systems convert the sun's energy into electricity so that it can be directly used by your house during the day. At night, when your solar panels are inactive, your electricity comes from the power grid. You receive a credit, also known as net metering, for any electricity your solar PV system generates that you don't use.
Solar and EV Charging Stations
So how much solar would you need to charge your EV? Green Tech Media states that if you drive a smart for two, Tesla, Volt, or Leaf about 30 miles a day, which is the average distance driven by most Americans, you'll need anywhere between 1.9 to 3.2 kilowatts (kW) daily.
As for how many solar panels you would need to generate enough electricity for your household, that depends on your family's average energy usage, how many solar panels can fit on your roof, etc. The good news is the price of solar has come down 80 percent from 2008 to 2014, the Department of Energy reports. Cha-ching!
Want to learn more about rebates, incentives, and unique financing solutions for both EV Charging Stations and solar? Visit the HERO Program page.
Meet John and Mona, who are thrilled with their solar system and EV charging station.