Poll: Solar-charging
What is the most enticing reason to solar-charge a car?
 

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Top 10 Reasons to Solar-Charge an EV!

10. You help drive solar – and EVs – forward!
9. No more trips to the gas station – ever!
8. Big long-term savings – and no more money to Big Oil!
7. “Drill, Baby, Drill!” crowd eats crow!
6. G-L-O-B-A-L W-A-R-M-I-N-G
5. Complete fuel independence!
4. Cleaner air – in your garage, in your neighborhood, in your city, everywhere!
3. A solar-charged EV is a true ZEV (zero emissions vehicle)!
2. The looks on neighbors’ faces when you tell them you power your car with sun…
1. Is there anything cooler than running your car off the sun?

Home solar-charged driving 101 editor's SCD story

Our SCD story: A new solar system, but no EV - yet

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My own solar-charged driving story is an ongoing one that in some ways has only partly begun.

As of June 2010, we have:

  1. A brand new, 5.59 kW solar system on our home!
  2. But still no EV (electric vehicle) or PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) in our garage.

we-got-solar-before2 We also have:

  1. A tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy for solar and solar-charged driving.
  2. A clear commitment to making sure we do get the missing components above.

Solar panels now up (June 2010) -- but still waiting on an EV
It might seem a bit strange for someone who does not yet have an EV to create and build a web site devoted to promoting the synergy between solar power and electric vehicles -- yes, I have done everything from the web design and development to creating the graphics and writing and editing the copy for SolarChargedDriving.Com.

we-got-solar-after2Wouldn’t it be better to have someone who’s already a grizzled solar-charged driving veteran doing a web site like SolarChargedDriving.Com?

There are a couple of good answers to that question:

  1. No one, whether grizzled solar-charged driving veteran or not, has yet built a site like SolarChargedDriving.Com.
  2. An average person who’s also not especially handy or technologically inclined and who has little experience with solar-charged driving is the best person to create a site aimed at mainstreaming solar-charged driving.

‘Techno-geeks’ and solar-charged driving
I know that not all solar-charged driving practitioners are what I call “techno-geeks” -- a term which I use positively here and elsewhere -- or people that can rap endlessly and effortlessly about the various technological intricacies of EVs, PHEVs, solar panels.

But many are.

The “techno-geeks” who are typically at the forefront of any technological change are not necessarily the best people to actually get that change to go mainstream.

“Techn-geeks” have much to offer -- and we’re hoping they make regular contributions to SolarChargedDriving.Com.

However, I’d suggest that the “techno-geeks” who are typically at the forefront of any technological change are not necessarily the best people to actually get that change to go mainstream.

This is because terms and concepts so foreign to the mainstream -- terms such as kilowatt hour (kWh), grid parity, net metering, solar cells, solar arrays, solar panels, not to mention torque, lithium-ion batteries, and I’m clearly not even getting to the more arcane terms here -- come naturally to techno-geeks.

Additionally -- and I’m not saying that all techno-geeks, do this, but some do: Because they’re already experts on things like solar conversion rates, anodes, cathodes, and so on, techno-geeks often assume everyone else knows what they’re talking about and sometimes -- and this is much, much worse -- they take the next step and assume everyone else is dumb because they don’t know what the expert knows.

As the editor, founder and web creator of SolarChargedDriving.com, I pledge to be reasonably well-informed about solar energy, EVs and PHEVs and their various intricacies.

And I’m sure I will become much better informed, much better versed than I am now, as time goes on. But I don’t pretend to be a highly trained expert in either solar energy or EVs and PHEVs.

Aiming to grow solar-charged driving
I’m just a guy who’s extremely charged up about solar-charged driving who wants to do as much as he can to grow solar-charged driving.

I’m also a former journalist and current journalism professor. So, while I’m not a solar or EV/PHEV expert, I do have expertise in gathering information and in covering and quoting “experts” on a variety of topics.

In any case, I think the fact that I am not an expert in solar or EVs or PHEVs puts me in good position to help solar-charged driving go mainstream.

To an expert, questions like -- Does an EV start to run more slowly as the battery-charge reaches its end? Or, Does an EV not go as far if I drive 100 miles at 70 miles per hour as opposed to 100 miles at 30 miles per hour? -- might seem just plain stupid.

As I am embark upon the road toward solar-charged driving, the same sorts of questions and issues that will occur to many everyday people who might also potentially get charged up about solar-charged driving, will occur to me as well.

To an expert, questions like -- Does an EV start to run more slowly as the battery-charge reaches its end? Or, Does an EV not go as far if I drive 100 miles at 70 miles per hour as opposed to 100 miles at 30 miles per hour? -- might seem just plain stupid.

In fact, at this point in time, I do not know the answer to these questions. They are a couple out of many I will investigate and try to answer as I develop SolarChargedDriving.Com.

SCD.Com editor’s solar-charged driving story just beginning
Right now, “the editor’s solar-charged driving story”, as I’ve labeled it here is unfolding as you read this.

REC Solar installed a 5.59 kW system on our roof in June 2010! We signed up in July 2009 to ensure that we get the currently quite high Xcel Energy rebates, which are basically equivalent to 65 percent of the total cost of our solar system, but needed time to save up the cash to plunk down on the system.

In fact, we learned quite a lot about electric utilities and what, for us, has been a decidedly customer unfriendly going solar experience as a result of the time gap between the time we signed the contract with REC Solar in late July 2009 and our solar system actually going up in early June 2010. In fact, if you're planning on perhaps doing something similar -- locking in today's utility rebates, but waiting to have the system installed, you might want to check out some of our stories about our own experience with this in 'What comes first -- the solar system or the EV?'.

Utility rebates are falling quickly in many places in the U.S. For instance, Xcel's per watt rebate has dropped from $3.50 per watt when we signed up in late summer 2009 to $2.00 per watt now. With a 5,600 watt (5.6 kilowatt/kW) solar system, you're talking about a substantial difference in post-rebate cost -- about $8,400. Basically, if we hadn't jumped on the $3.50 per watt rebate in the fall of 2009 (it actually took until Nov. 2009 for Xcel to process our application), our post rebate cost of $11,485 for our 5.59 kW system (a 30-percent Federal Tax Credit will bring the out-of-pocket costs to about $8,300) would have been around $20,000!

It’s pretty clear that at least in the beginning, with sticker prices coming in between $30,000 and $40,000, or higher, EVs are going to be primarily for the economically elite.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, we’re hoping to get an EV -- right now, I’m thinking Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus EV, or, if we can somehow afford it, CODA Automotive CODA Sedan EV, though this could change. I’m also hoping we can figure out a way to afford an EV.

It’s pretty clear that at least in the beginning, with sticker prices coming in between $30,000 and $40,000, or higher, EVs are going to be primarily for the economic elite. Of course, the Nissan LEAF will be in the mid-20s, after a Federa Tax Credit of $7,500 for the first 200,000 people who buy a LEAF, which is in fact quite affordable. Hopefully, other EV makers will seek to match that price.

We are definitely not part of the economic elite. But somehow I’m hoping to pull everything together so that we can get that EV.

Perhaps I can partially pay for our EV by “ad wrapping” our EV for a solar company. And, if any of the major automakers is truly interested in promoting solar-charged driving -- something about which, frankly, I’m rather skeptical -- perhaps we could get Ford, or Nissan, etc. to pay us to “ad wrap” our EV for them as well.

Basically, “the editor’s solar-charged” driving story is ongoing, though I can’t wait until it gets further into gear and we have a solar-charged EV to compliment our home solar system!

If you haven’t already begun traveling that road, I hope you strongly consider embarking on it too.

I hope you’ll follow our story as I, and my wife and family, embark on the road toward becoming genuine solar-charged drivers.

If you haven’t already begun traveling that road, I hope you strongly consider embarking on it too and that, if you do opt for solar-charged driving, that you post your story to SolarChargedDriving.Com’s Sun Miles™ “Tell Your Story” blogging pages as well.

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