Pairing Plug-In Cars With Solar Power Results In Big Savings


Say you’re one of the growing number of Americans who have had a solar array installed on your house, and say you’re generating more watts than your household can use. You could send those extra watts right back to the power grid and get money back from the power company, or you could use the extra watts to charge your brand new electric or hybrid car. More and more people are doing just that, and they’re seeing big savings and shorter payback times for their solar systems.

Now solar arrays are not cheap, and neither are plug-in cars. A Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sedan starts at $34,700, and even after $4,000 back from the government it still costs about $7,000 more than a base model Fusion. But many advocates swear the investment pays for itself over time and the pure thrill of driving fossil fuel free is more than enough encouragement for Kevin Tofel. “We think it was one of the best things in the world to do. We will never go back to an all-gas car,” Tofel said in an interview with the Redding Searchlight.

In 2012 Tofel bought a Chevrolet Volt to use up the extra watts produced by his home solar array. He estimates that by adding the Volt to his solar arsenal, already consisting of 41 solar panels, he will break-even almost 5 years sooner than without it. That is pretty impressive especially considering that he now only spends around $50 in gas compared to the $250 before the Volt. Charging his electric car costs only $1.50 per night, which is quickly made back the next day by sending the excess power back to the grid. Powering a car with solar power is not an option for everyone, but it’s becoming more commonplace as people realize just how well solar power and plug-in cars go together.

Automakers have started to realize it too, which leads to partnerships like the one between SunPower, Ford and the Sierra Club. These three entities have partnered together to offer a rebate of $750 on each solar system installed and a $500 donation to the Sierra Club. Even better, SunPower is currently holding a contest to giveaway a solar power system valued at $16,000, which would mean you could start charging your car, for free, from day one.

When’s the last time a car came with free fuel?

Image: CataFratto / Shutterstock


Nicole DeMorro

Nicole has always had a passion for all things green and sustainable and she practices what she preaches in her everyday life, from recycling and upcycling to gardening and her flock of backyard chickens.