Electric vehicle owners or potential buyers are a savvy bunch. They’re concerned about the environment and they want to free themselves from their dependence on the gas pump. It’s probably safe to say that most want to reduce their use of fossil fuels as much as possible, making them prime customers for residential solar installations for a few reasons.
Driving an electric vehicle requires knowing how far it can go on a charge and pinpointing where charging stations are located en route. While many EVs have a driving distance of 100 miles or so on a charge, that is beginning to change. The 2017 Chevy Bolt, for example, has a range of 230 miles and the new Tesla Model S has a range of nearly 250 miles. Until more EVs come on the market with a range of 200 miles or more, their drivers will have to be well-aware of where their next charge is coming from.
Online resources are available that show the location of electric vehicle charging stations, such as the Alternative Fuels Data Center, which shows locations in the US. While the map appears full, zooming in on more rural areas of the country shows many miles between charging stations. In southern New Hampshire, not far from Boston, an EV owner would have to carefully map a route, taking into consideration the types of chargers available and time to charge.
Residential solar charging
For those commuting to work, having a charging station available at work is a great benefit. Unfortunately, these are not yet common enough. Charging at home frees EV users from depending on the availability of charging stations along the route or at their destination.
The ClipperCreek HCS-40, 32 AMP Level 2 EVSE
Whether the EV owners install a stand-alone car charger or a grid-tied residential solar system, for quickly charging today’s EVs they will need a Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). Level 2 requires a 240V outlet on a dedicated circuit. It can be connected to the existing home panel and meter or installed with a separate meter and should be installed by a licensed electrician. A Level II EVSE can deliver up to a 24 kilowatt per hour charge in 4 to 8 hours.
The EV driver can certainly install a stand-alone EVSE at home, which runs off the home’s electrical system. But to truly “go green,” a grid-tied solar electric system frees them from their dependence on fossil fuels. The advantage of hooking an EVSE to a grid-tied solar system is that the solar panels generate electricity whenever the sun is out, sending it to the grid when it’s not being used. The homeowner gets an energy credit for that power “sold” to the grid, and then they use it to charge their EV overnight. An even better scenario is a grid-tied system with battery backup, so they can charge directly from their solar panels day or night. For more information on adding backup to a grid-tied solar system, read “Seven Things to Know…”