Electric vehicles and solar panels: The perfect match!
Solar panels and electric cars complement each other. If you install a solar array for your home through, the electricity you generate can be used to charge an electric car. This brings your transportation costs down to zero and reduces your carbon footprint dramatically.
If you think you want an electric car at some point, you can choose to size your solar installation to meet your future charging needs. However, that’s not necessary to enjoy the full benefits of both. Here are a few easy ways to integrate solar panels and an electric car:
- You can stretch your solar array’s energy output by upgrading your home’s energy efficiency. Investing in more efficient lightbulbs, appliances, or thermostats will free up solar energy to charge a car and decrease your overall energy costs without increasing the cost or capacity of your solar installation.
- Opt for a dual EV-charger/solar inverter. If you know you’ll want to install a Level II charging station at home in the future, you can opt to purchase a solar inverter that’s also a car-charging station. This equipment qualifies for the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on your federal taxes, and you’ll be ready to charge when you get your car. SolarEdge has a good model.
If you’d like to size-up your solar installation to meet your car-charging needs, here are some tips to get started.
- Figure out how much electricity your car will use. This depends on the efficiency of the car you’re interested in and your daily driving mileage. As an estimate, it will take about 3 kW of installed solar capacity in Massachusetts to charge a car that is driven 11,000 miles a year.
- Determine if it makes financial sense to size up. Installing more panels will increase your upfront installation costs, but because you will be generating more energy, you will also accumulate more net-metering credits. However, avoid installing a system larger than 10 kW; at that size, your net-metering rate will be reduced, and it will take longer for your installation to pay for itself.
- Make sure your system is “add-on” friendly if you don’t want to install additional panels right away. You can add more panels in the future to meet your charging needs. To keep this option open, install a higher-power inverter (or microinverters) to match the generating capacity you may want in a couple of years.