Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Solarbrating the Electric Car.

This week two major milestones passed at our home and with our car.

We solarbrated with 100 friends the occasion with an Electric Car Solarbration. I believe that within a few short decades many if not most will be holding similar solarbrations across a much cleaner nation.

Mini-E # 183 clocked 20,000 on the ODO Monday on the way home from work, and our Solar PV system just passed the 25 million watts of energy produced threshold today.

For 2.5 years we have been powering our 3500 sq ft home, a 3br, 2bath 1200 sq ft guest house, a vineyard operation, a 450 sq ft temperature controlled wine cellar completely with solar power. 16 months ago we added the Mini-E to the mix and ordered an additional 2kw of solar to power that as well.

The savings in power for the house is $350 a month, the saving on gasoline for the car is $150 a month. The savings in total is $6,000 a year. This was replaced by a new annual utility bill of between -$300 to +300. This is the total bill for a house and guest house occupied by 6 people and a car driven 15,000 miles a year.

Click on bill to enlarge

Our two systems totaling 7.5KW cost $30,000 plus a few thousands for efficiency upgrades such as CCFL’s and LED lights. In just a little over 5 short years, the system is paid off using no new money, only the saving of not paying the utility and gasoline.

From then on we live and drive on free and emission free sunshine. That will save us over $120,000 (with inflation $200,000) in energy cost and gasoline for the next 25 years.

In our urban centers such as San Diego, 60% of manmade particulate pollution is from our transportation fleet, 11% from our homes. Nearly 70% of our Co2 is from our transportation fleet and again 11% from our homes. The PV+EV solution eliminates both sources of pollution and will clean our air if adopted broadly.

Cleaner air, saving money, regaining our self reliance and independence. This is a combo that works. I hope we are smart enough to manufacture in the US. My fear is that cheap oil will keep us hooked to the drug while other countries dominate the machines and jobs of the future.

20,000 miles of smiles :)

Mini-E #183 is the best car, most fun car, I have ever driven.


  1. Great reason for a celebration Peder, I wish I could have been there! You are a great inspiration!

  2. Thanks Tom!

    Any excuse to drink wine!

    Look forward to meeting you in the near future!


  3. Peder

    You said you "passed ... 25 million watts of energy produced" but energy units are watt-HOURs. Plain watts are units of power, not energy. So I assume you meant 25 mega watt hours, which sounds about right for a 7.5 kW array over 3 years.

    Everybody gets this wrong, I think people would be less confused if we used mega Joules instead of kilowatt hours for energy. One kWh = 3.66 mega Joules.

    Anyway, is that $30,000 before or after the tax incentives? Grid tied only or battery backup? Central inverter or individual micro inverters on each panel? My wife and I are planing to do solar next year or so, but the incentives are not as good here in North Carolina as they are in CA and NJ, so we went for a ground source heat pump first. The energy saved per dollar spent is actually higher here. Not as fun though.

  4. Peder,
    Congratulations! Solarbration -- I love it. Can't wait until we're doing the same thing.

    BTW, in just 3 months with solar here in Aurora, CO, we've produced 2,000 more kWh than we've consumed with our 5.59 kWh system. We're banking these kWh with our utility, Xcel.

    As you know, 2,000 kWh = approximately 8,000 gasoline free miles in an EV, or about $1,200 worth of gasoline savings at $3 a gallon and 20 mpg.

    By the time the Nissan LEAF arrives in Colo. (wish it we're going to be sooner) in about 1 1/2 years, I estimate we will have banked 18,000 miles worth of gasoline free driving, or about $2,700 worth of fuel ($3 per gallon, 20 mpg).

    At this rate, we will have hit solar payback in less than three years ($8,000 = our out of pocket costs for our 5.59 kW system) with the EV+PV combo. After that, as you know, we'll have free electricity and free gasoline. And this calculation doesn't even take into consideration yearly utility rate hikes and increases in the price of gas!

    I'm guessing in most states with good to very good solar incentives, people with good rooftop space and who do EV+PV will achieve total payback in 3 to 6 years. Free home electricity and free gas after that!

    When there are more of us telling the world our EV+PV stories, and it finally breaks into the mainstream media, solar-charged driving is really going to take off! People aren't dumb, they'll see the economic and environmental benefits, and climb aboard -- in droves!

  5. Hi Jim,

    you are right its watt hour,

    It's our net cost after incentives.

    The first system (4.5kw) we did not get the 30% fed credit only 2k. state rebate was about $2.00 per kw Price per kw after incentives was 4.3k

    second system (3kw)we did get the 30% but the state rebate was only $0.95 per watt.
    Price per kw after incentives was $3.8k

    One inverter for the first system, one inverter for the second. The enphase micro inverters are great if you have shade/tree chimney issues.

    For us home payoff is a little over 6 years, replacing gasoline a little under four years so the net payoff is just over 5 years.


  6. Christof,

    Your home must be a lot more efficient than mine (that pesky wine cellar)

    Have you worked out your mpg equivilent yet?

    For me using a 24 miles per gallon gas car as a base, I need 7kwh of energy for the electric car.

    Assuming I'm driving for the next 25 years, The cost of a 2kw system plus replacing one inverter, somewhere in the middle years, my cost of solar fuel is around 38 cents a gallon for the same 24 mile.