Solar-powered cars sound like something out of a sci-fi novel. Only a few steps removed from flying cars.
And yet, thousands of people in California alone drive on pure sunshine every day. No gas stations. No coal-burning power plants. We’re talking 100% clean energy.
Yesterday (in Part 1 of “How Much Are Solar Powered Cars”), we looked at the growing electric vehicle (EV) trend. Ordinary homeowners are buying EVs in unprecedented numbers and charging these cars with solar panels instead of with the traditional utility grid.
Today, we’ll look at why this trend is catching on so quickly. And we’ll also briefly discuss some of the costs involved.
Solar Powered Cars and Net Metering
Besides the obvious benefit of not having to pay for gasoline every few days, there are other compelling reasons why you should invest in residential solar panels if you’re also in the market for an electric vehicle.
San Diego has a great solar incentive called net metering. Under this program, the utility company (i.e. SDG&E) pays you for any excess solar electricity that your installation sends into the grid.
At the end of every billing cycle, you’re only responsible for the net difference in electricity sold and bought. But whereas you pay cash to SDG&E, they only give you credits. If you constantly produce more electricity than you need, this means you’re constantly building up a stockpile of utility credits.
This is a great feeling, but these credits don’t have much commercial value. They’re just numbers in a computer.
However, if you have an EV, you can easily use this excess electricity (and credits) to charge your vehicle instead. That way, you have a zero balance at the end of every month. You don’t owe SDG&E anything – and they don’t owe you anything either.
It’s a pretty neat concept. Zero pollution, zero balance, zero worries.
Let’s look at some numbers.
How Much Are Solar Powered Cars – If You Go with an EV?
EV’s are constantly evolving. And there are a ton of options on the market from the super cheap (and unreliable) to the ludicrously expensive.
But most of the more popular models range between $25K and $35K. This may be a little more expensive than standard gas-guzzlers. But remember that EVs pay for themselves very quickly.
Just imagine how much money you’ll save by never having to visit a gas pump again. According to some estimates, the average American spends over $2,000 a year at the filling station. And this is at today’s petrol prices. As gas becomes more expensive, this $2K estimate will only go up.
By contrast, the sun remains the same price – forever.
But the solar installation itself isn’t free. So how much should you budget?
Well, a standard residential solar PV installation in San Diego is about $10K. But with the electricity savings you’ll enjoy by having a smaller monthly utility bill, you make back that money in about 4 to 6 years. And if you include an electric vehicle, the payback period is even shorter (since you’re also enjoying higher gas savings as well).
So Should You Buy an EV?
Whether to go green or not is a completely personal decision. We’re not here to moralize or lecture.
- If you’re thinking about installing solar on your property, you should definitely consider looking into electric vehicles.
- And if you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, you should definitely consider the benefits of installing solar on your property.
Either of these technologies in isolation offers tons of great environmental and financial benefits. But when you put them together – wow. Your savings skyrocket and your carbon footprint shrinks.
But don’t take our word for it. Ask around. Do some research. If you’d like to talk to EV drivers who use solar energy to power their vehicles, let us know. We can put you in touch.