Many early EV adopters likely to solar charge

tesla-solar-backgroundIt’s difficult to know how many people:

a) Are already solar-charging an EV in the U.S. – and around the world;

b) Are planning to do so;

c) Eventually may end up doing so;

One knowledgeable source we know estimates there could be up to 1,000 people in the U.S. who are already using solar to at least partially power an electric vehicle.

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Our own ongoing Solar-charged Driver Census – which we’ve been running since late July 2010, has generated much more modest figures. So far, 50 people who’ve taken our survey have said they definitely plan to solar-charge a future EV while 37 indicate they are already solar-charging an EV.

There’s also a relatively recently posted and ongoing poll at – one we’re proud to say we more than likely inspired. This poll shows that once more folks actually get a LEAF in their hands – so far perhaps a dozen or so have a LEAF in the U.S., there might be more solar LEAFs than you think.

The poll asks respondents to indicate how they’re going to power their LEAF. And, with 119 votes so far, solar’s in the lead with 51% of the votes cast. “Utility Power” (32%) follows with “Green Power from Utility” (18%) third. Between them, solar, and green power have 67% of the vote so far.

Environmentally conscious LEAF buyers
That’s a pretty substantial, though, again, anecdotal statement, that a significant portion of LEAF early adopters are environmentally conscious.

Of course, tapping solar to fuel your LEAF has additional advantages:

a) fueling independence

b) long-term economic savings

leaf-plus-solarTrue, if your solar system is grid-tied, your fueling independence is a comparative one, but solar clearly offers more fueling independence than gasoline, which essentially plugs you directly into the foreign oil pipeline that extends to the Middle East and other parts of the world.

And, yes, economic savings will vary depending a wide variety of factors, chief among them, solar rebates and incentives where you live and utility rate structures and payout schemes for kWh produced by home solar.

Nonetheless, solar as fuel for your LEAF, or other plug-in, can be an extremely wise investment, one that can, and does, pay off for some folks, often in a big way, both environmentally and economically. And, of course, there’s the feeling of satisfaction from getting off of oil while creating one’s own fuel as well.

Solar regularly discussed at
One need not look further than the many people on who not only say they will be solar-charging their LEAF, but who regularly create discussion threads on solar and chat about its various intricacies.

SolarChargedDriving.Com recently created a thread on to see how many people over there plan to power their LEAF with solar. We got a good number of responses – and, as we pointed out above, our thread even led someone at to create the poll we discuss above.

It’s weird, but the knowledge that photons landing on my roof can push my butt around town is immensely satisfying.
–‘Sparky’, Current Solar-Charged EV Driver

It’s always interesting to find out more about other people who are either already solar-charging an EV, or are planning too.

Solar LEAF-ers

With that in mind, here’s a short overview of some of the responses we got to our inquiry at about how many solar-charged “LEAF-ers” are out there. We asked if people are planning on solar-charging, and, if so, why. By the way, if there’s a common thread running through the responses we got, it’s that going solar increases one’s interest in energy conservation.

  • Boomer23 in Irvine, Calif. We’ve had a 5.16 kW rooftop PV system running in coastal Southern California for just about 4 years. Our motivation was environmental. We also thought that electricity rates are sure to climb, and that we were also adding a valuable home improvement to our home. Adding a PV system brought more energy awareness, as we watched the output of our system in relation to our usage. That brought an additional emphasis on energy conservation. So we converted to CFL lamps, a front-loading clothes washer, LED Christmas lights, and eventually a more energy efficient, though larger, refrigerator. We’ll end 2010 using just under 65% of the electric energy that we used in 2005, the year on which we based the size of our PV system. We’ve consistently produced 1,000 kWh per year more than our usage over the first three years. With the refrigerator change and some recent lighting changes, we’ll end 2010 with over 1,500 kWh of excess generation, and this should come closer to 2,000 kWh for a full year next year. In fact, the excess generation got us thinking about an EV.

  • EVDriver, location undisclosed. My Leaf will likely end up 100% solar powered off my system, I’m presently running a large surplus and have charged three EVs before completely off the solar.
  • leaf-brick-building1LEAFfan, Phoenix, Ariz. We’re waiting for our PV system to go ‘online’, maybe in a couple weeks. If I hadn’t ordered a LEAF, I still would have had the PVs installed as I have been wanting these for about 30 years . . . Here, we stopped using the dryer, switched over to desert landscaping (no grass!), have all CFLs (will switch to all LEDs in a year or two), LED Holiday lights (350 LEDs @ 40W total), hot water timer, solar screens, and PVs (only on peak hours are 3-6 PM M-F) on the roof. I also am presently driving (since 2004) the cleanest ICE (Honda Civic GX) in the world, but am looking forward to true zero emissions with my LEAF. I know we will be saving a ton of money, our home’s value will increase by about $20K, and the system will be paid off in 4-5 years, but I did it mostly for environmental reasons.
  • Azrich, Tuscon, Ariz. We have a 5.8 kW system that was installed in late October so we can charge our LEAF with solar power. This system should make more than enough electricity 7 months of the year, but when we have to use the AC we will buy some power from the electric company. We will be keeping records to see if this works out the way we hope. I’m hoping for a February LEAF delivery, Sept. 7 order.
  • JasonT, Arizona. 5.25 kW system installed approximately 2 years ago. Unfortunately in the summer I definitely do not generate enough to cover my current electrical needs. I only have 141 kWh banked this winter so far. So… although I will be a LEAF owner who is also using solar, it’s questionable whether you would say I am using the solar to charge my Leaf.
  • MWalsh, Garden Grove, Calif. 6.2kW system here. Just went on line about 2 weeks ago. Making about 24kWh on sunny winter days and hope to make about 35-40kWh daily during summer. Should be good for both our household (16kWh daily/winter, about 20kWh daily/summer) and the LEAF (about 16kWh daily expected).
  • solar-resources-flowers-pic1Sparky, location undisclosed. PV self-install in June 2008 around the same time I owned my first EV. Thought it was an interesting experiment to show my kids the possibilities of living a less oily lifestyle. Once I experienced the “cool”, quiet, efficiency of PV, I got a little crazy and LED’d my household lighting and timer’d up my non-essential loads like TV and wall-warts. Now, with less than a 5kW system, I expect to supply my house and about 8k miles of LEAF. It’s weird, but the knowledge that photons landing on my roof can push my butt around town is immensely satisfying.
  • Walterbays, San Diego, Calif. We have solar panels that provide a little more energy than our house uses per year. We deliberately sized them that way. Many new homes here are built with solar panels, but nearly all of them are undersized because the rate structure has been such that you don’t get paid a cent for any excess electricity you produce . . . I calculate that solar will provide about 70% of the combined energy needs of house plus a LEAF. If the new rate structure pays a fair rate for surplus energy production, after considering any hidden or trick charges, then we might add more panels to bring it back up over 100%.
  • ERG4ALL, location undisclosed. We have a 6.7kWh system that went online June 2, 2010. When we sized our system we didn’t really know what our future use might be, so we over-sized it. Thus, through the end of November we have “banked” over 4,800 kWh with our utility . . . It would be really neat if Nissan could gather the PV info from buyers and publish it so we would have some hard facts to refute the naysayers who say we’re just moving pollution from the tailpipe to the generation station. I’d expect that us early adopters would have a much higher percentage of PV installations than the population at large.

As you can see, there are a lot of people who are very serious about tapping into the synergy between solar energy and EVs. Perhaps you, too, are one of these people. If so, we’d love to hear about your motivations to solar-charge and what your specific solar + EV plans are. Here are few options for you to tell us, and our thousands of readers, about your solar-charged future:

Happy Sun (S)Miles®!

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