As I’ve noted in a couple of previous blog entries, I just bought townhome in an HOA in Littleton, Colo. and have a two-car garage that is not attached to my townhome or to any other buildings for that matter + the HOA owns the roof of my garage (and the roof of my townhome).

I just posted some questions about a solar rooftop + Tesla Powerwall + EV charger set-up to a Facebook group I joined this morning, Tesla Energy: Powerwall, roof, solar. I figured I’d post them here on SolarChargedDriving.Com as well in the hopes of increasing the feedback/advice I get.

Here goes — with some background about my rather unique situation — preceding my questions –>

I am working toward getting HOA approval to put solar on my garage roof so that I can charge my 2014 Nissan LEAF with solar. 35 garage units in 6 garage blocks are all on a SINGLE electric meter that is collectively paid for by HOA residents through monthly fees.
I was told by a solar expert at Namaste Solar here in Colorado that I may not be able to install grid tied solar on my garage roof because of the single meter for all garages situation here in Highline Crossing Cohousing. He said you need your own individual meter in order to put solar up and tie this in to the grid/utility — the utility here = Xcel Energy.
Given this + my desire to solar-charge my LEAF again (I had to sell my house with solar 2 years ago due to divorce), I am considering a rooftop solar + Tesla Powerwall + EV charger option.

I had some questions I was hoping others out there (perhaps with this set-up already) might be able to help me with –>
1. Any ideas on how much a 2 kW system + Powerwall 2 + EV charger would cost?
2. If my set-up was not grid tied, what would that mean in terms of potential excess power produced by my solar system (does it get shut down once the battery is filled with “Sunshine” electricity?)
3. Do I actually need a separate/my own utility meter in order to tie my system to the grid — or could I be tied into the grid and simply “donate” the electricity my panels produced to the HOA group and its single meter (which is not located on my garage block) and Xcel energy would allow me to grid tie my system. 
4. Would a Powerwall 2 be sufficient to “fill” the battery of my 2014, 24 kWh battery pack/Nissan LEAF?
5. What does a rooftop solar + powerwall + EV charger set-up actually look like, meaning how is an EV charger tied into the system/the Powerwall? How do you set things up so that the Powerwall feeds its solar-generated electricity into the EV charger? Could an EV charger that was installed on its own before the solar + Powerwall + EV charger set up be used for that set-up?
6. Does anyone have a set-up like this? If so, it would be great to tap your experience and expertise — if you have any feedback/advice it would be much appreciated 🙂
Thank you — and many happy SunMiles® to you!

4 Responses

  1. Tabot (@AzZenCyclist)

    I know you are purchasing wind power but what about community solar? You seem like the perfect situation for that. That way you could still be supporting solar and some setups allow you to purchase the panels so that you can live anywhere and still benefit.

    • Christof Demont-Heinrich

      Good point. But I do not find it nearly as satisfying to be paying for renewable energy that I cannot see, and that is part of Big Utility still controlling its monopoly — and it’s clear most utilities are still very much going after, and trying to undermine, distributive, rooftop solar, localization of power production, etc. So, for me, it is a multi-pronged political issue.

  2. Dan B.

    Any update on this, Christof? We are an HOA in California facing a similar situation as you. We have common-circuit electricity in our garages, even though each owner is deeded their garage. We are at a loss as to how to control and provide power for EV charging. PG&E (our utility) wants us to put in commercial-grade networked power stations, but that means $$$ in networking charges every year for the owners and/or HOA. PG&E will not put in residential (non-networked) chargers as part of their EV Charge Network program. We are considering buying a solar system just for the garages to power residential chargers, but it seems like it would be overkill for the amount of power required to charge cars, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get solar installed on garages that would power the house units as well, without $$$ to rewire the complex.

    • Christof Demont-Heinrich

      Hi Dan,
      Thank you for your reply. I ultimately gave up on trying to persuade my HOA to install a charger for community use. Most of it would have been funded by state grant money, had we won this money. Still, there was significant opposition because we have a ridiculous visitor parking situation where we have only 5 visitor spots for a community of 40 households, and one of the visitor parking spots was the most likely candidate for an EV charging spot.

      When I first moved here to Highline Crossing Cohousing, I had a 2014 LEAF with 84 miles as my only car (because of divorce). Trickle charging with that and no Level 2 could have created problems. In Sept. 2017, I turned my LEAF back in to Nissan (right after they announced that the 2018 LEAF was only going to be 40 kWh), and leased a 2017 Chevy Bolt with 238 miles of range.

      It is also my only car, but much more do-able as an only car than the LEAF. Because I have so much range to play with, I don’t really need a Level 2 charger anymore. I have also set the Bolt to charge at 12 amps, which I could not in the LEAF, and this allows me to add somewhere between 65 – 85 miles every night, which is plenty.

      I am actually getting “free” fuel right now because our HOA garages are sitting on a single community meter. I don’t feel bad about it partly because of the resistance I got to the Level 2 charger and because I am currently working hard on a drive to get our HOA solar, but I am worried that this supposedly “liberal/progressive” Cohousing will reject solar. To be fair we cannot collect the 30% Fed Tax Credit because of our non-profit status, but we still save significant cash across 20-25 years if we go solar AND we could produce up to 2,000 extra kWh per year and bank that indefinitely to be used later to charge any additional EVs for free!

      All of this — thousands in savings on gasoline, and I STILL think I’m going to have trouble persuading some to go solar. It is SOOOO frustrating. People would rather fork over thousands to Big Oil than save because, allegedly, “solar is expensive”. If I came in with an offer to install a gas/fuel dispenser in our community which everyone could use to fill up for FREE — people would jump on it, of course. But somehow even though it is the same thing — fueling for FREE after solar payback — some people do not get it. It is thoroughly astounding how obstinate some people can be.

      Sounds like your situation is also complex, and maybe we could exchange ideas/experiences via email. I will send this to your email address as well.

      Christof D-H


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