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Listen Up: Buying an EV and Charging with Solar

The combination of rooftop solar and electric vehicles (EVs) is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of the renewable industry. Although EVs started off slowly the second time around (the first time was in the early 1900s), in some areas EVs are becoming ubiquitous. Whether it's a combination of tax credits, car pool lane preferences, expensive gas or concern about the environment, the trend seems unstoppable.

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Not surprisingly, over 50 percent of our residential rooftop solar customers either have an EV or will be buying an EV within 12 months. And these are not the 1 percent buying Tesla Model S's — most of the EVs our customers drive are Priuii, Volts, and Leaves.

"Filling up" from inexpensive rooftop solar is almost always cheaper than gasoline on a miles per dollar basis. Moreover, installing a 240-volt EV charge station (Level 2, which draws from a 40-amp dedicated breaker) can usually be piggybacked along with a 40 amp breaker (or subpanel) used for a PV system. Most solar contractors and electricians can efficiently install an EV charger at the same time a rooftop solar system is installed.

EVs and plug-in hybrids are available from almost all major manufacturers, including BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota. In addition to a wide price range — from $20,000 to over $100,000 — these vehicles have different battery sizes, charging rates and backup energy options. But they are remarkably similar in efficiency (measured by $/mile), ranging from $0.10/mile for the smallest cars to $0.14/mile for a Tesla; the key difference being aerodynamics and weight.

My guest on this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is Pete Levy, founder of IntelliChoice and CEO of CarJoJo. Please join me as Pete helps us sort through the driving, charging and buying issues related to the EV that is likely in your future.

Find more episodes of The Energy Show here.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock

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As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally h...

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