Electric Cars + Solar: The Perfect Pair for a Greener Lifestyle

By:Doug Richards

September 12, 2015

Mark and Cathleen Albers

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

Did you know that it's National Drive Electric Week? This nationwide event celebrates the growth in popularity of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.

SunPower is dedicated to leaving the planet better and cleaner than how we found it, and we love the way electric cars and solar energy work so well together, giving drivers the option to power their cars on sunshine instead of traditional fossil fuels.

This year SunPower is sponsoring National Drive Electric Week, presented by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association. SunPower will appear at Drive Electric events in 10 California cities (click the link to see the list), so if you’re in the area, stop by to learn more about the benefits of powering an electric car or plug-in hybrid vehicle with clean and abundant solar energy.

Electric vehicle industry is booming

With battery-powered and plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles ranging in price from about $25,000 to $140,000, there are a variety of options from which to choose, with the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius together selling more than 190,000 units per month to mostly middle-class individuals and families. And with more hybrid commercial vehicles on the market, many businesses now have the option of adding electric vehicles to their fleets.

Plug-in vehicles powered by solar just makes sense as a scalable green initiative. With both electric cars and residential/commercial solar power systems becoming more efficient and affordable, living green is going mainstream. Here’s how two SunPower families are enjoying the benefits.

SunPower employees lead the way

SunPower employee Mark Albers and his wife Cathleen have a Nissan Leaf and a SunPower® home solar system.

 “We just had our three-year anniversary of going solar,” Albers said. “We oversized our system with the idea that we’d eventually ‘get off the pipe,’ meaning the gas pipe. Now our electrical bill is net-positive, by about $300 annually. So we both agree: EV and PV (solar panels) go together really well!”

Albers explains that the cost of using electricity to charge his car is much more affordable than gasoline, even more so thanks to his solar system.

“For me the cost is now about 3 to 4 cents per mile, whereas drivers of gas-powered vehicles are paying more in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 cents per mile, depending on their cars. So I pay about one-fourth of what it costs everyone else on the road.”

And since SunPower provides complimentary electric car charging stations at its California offices, Albers also enjoys fast, no-cost charging while he’s at work. He receives a text when his charging is complete so he can move his car to make way for others who need to plug in. On any given day, SunPower’s parking lots might host more than 75 employees’ electric or hybrid vehicles.

Senior New Product Introduction Operations Engineer Craig Oeser was an early adopter of the electric car lifestyle and remains an advocate.

Oeser proudly proclaims of his Nissan Leaf, which he drove for four years until recently switching to a Volt, “There’s no oil change necessary, there’s no internal combustion and no transmission. There’s just an electric motor and a big battery running your engine. Imagine what it’s like not knowing what the cost of a gallon of gas is! I have no idea, and I consider that a badge of honor; I haven’t bought gas in a really long time.”

Like Albers, Oeser has a SunPower® home solar system that he uses to charge his electric car.

 “Other than our monthly hook-up costs, our net charge for everything – the electric car, everything in our house and our hot tub – was $15 for all of last year. Pretty hard to argue with that.”

Get involved in National Drive Electric Week

Will you be participating in National Drive Electric Week? How will you encourage more plug-in vehicle use in your community?

If you’re a business, even if you don’t have on-site charging stations, you can offer reserved parking spots for electric and hybrid vehicles and provide maps of electric car charging stations in your community.

If you’re an electric car owner, you can educate others about how your vehicle works and share what it’s like to own one. You may consider letting others take a spin to see how it feels.

Anyone can participate in National Drive Electric Week events or volunteer to organize an event.

According to the National Electric event site: “Each event is led by local plug-in drivers and advocates and typically includes some combination of EV parades, ride-and-drives, electric tailgate parties, press conferences, award ceremonies, informational booths and more.”

The customer experiences shared above may not represent the average customer’s experience.  Customer savings vary depending upon a number of factors including (but not limited to) the following:  equipment used, system size, system orientation and shading, insolation available, applicability utility rates and rate structure, as well as customer’s eligibility for rebates, incentives, and net-metering or similar programs (the availability of which may differ for each customer).

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