With rising oil and gasoline prices, Americans are fed up with several factors connecting their transportation needs to gas powered vehicles. Price fluctuation, ongoing maintenance costs, constantly searching for the cheapest fuel pumps, many are considering an electric vehicle (EV) as a viable alternative. Any solar powered home now offers a closed loop connection to energy freedom by powering your car with leveraged cheap energy generated by a homeowner's PV solar system.
Modern lifestyle has been so connected to gasoline powered vehicles, that over the past century consumers have now come to expect to spend hundreds of dollars per month on just their transportation costs. Importing oil threatens both our national and economic security. As a nation, we let more than $1 billion go to foreign countries to finance our oil needs. This is money that sometimes goes to enemies who pose a threat to our country. An electric vehicle would empower Americans to source this fuel “domestically.” However, an electric car is typically charged by energy drawn from your utility and oil still makes up a small percentage of the country’s electricity fuel mix.
Alternatively, many homeowners are contemplating IF an investment in additional electric PV panels can power their car with clean, green solar electricity and SAVE MONEY?
So how much solar energy would you need to generate to power your electric car? Let’s use some simple math. American consumers drive on average of 12,000 miles a year. The Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Ford Focus E use about 1 kWh for every 4 or 5 miles driven. Therefore, you would need to generate between 200 and 250 kWh per month from solar electricity. In California, this would equate to approximately 2.5 kW of installed solar capacity (DC STC), or about 10 250-watt standard REC modules/panels.
If it costs $5.5/watt to install a 2.5 kW solar system... we can roughly set your system investment to $13,750. Let's minus off our 30% tax credit to around $9,625 or to be safe we'll round up to $10K. Keep that in mind now, $10K dollars would afford you around 12,000 annual miles of driving for at least 25 years (our panel warrantee) and ultimately offering 300,000 total guaranteed miles of driving.
So let's say we get 30mpg on our current gas powered car, that's 10,000 gallons of gas we'll have to buy over the course of those 300K miles. Even if gas prices hold flat for the next 25 years at $3.85/gal, our total gas bill will be over $38,000! Effectively saving enough money to buy another electric car with our $28K savings! Just by adding inflation and the assumption that oil will become higher in price as is gets more scarce, this savings could effectively be exponentially higher.
The Nissan Leaf starts at $35,200 minus a $7,500 tax credit means your total car investment is around $27,700. But wait, since the car is electric we won't need those pesky oil changes 300,000/5,000 = 60 oil changes at $50 a pop is another $3,000 saved. Maintenance is also drastically reduced as electric cars have very few moving parts and generate little heat. No transmission, clutch, radiator, electrical parts heating up and cooling down to go wrong over the years will increase the vehicle's life span. It has been shown in many road tests that with regular tire and battery maintenance* an electric engine in a car can easily last over 500K to perhaps 1M miles! How is that for re-sale value?!!
Bottom line, if you even estimate your worst case scenario of only warranted solar production, you can still bank on a $30K savings over the life of the system, factor in inflation and scarcity with the gas prices and this only goes up from there. Now added the piece of mind that you are producing your own energy to move your car and all of it comes from a clean renewable source.
Want to learn more about electric cars, check out our electric cars article here.
*Electric car batteries are currently warranted for 10 years or 100,000 miles. But the nice thing is that the manufacturer will take the old battery to recycle and give a credit to trade in for a new set when it's time to purchase. Assuming the technology keeps getting better, batteries in 10 years will be longer lasting and cheaper than ever.