10.1.2010 4:29 PM

Solar Car Battery Charger Is Free Fuel for Electric Vehicle Drivers

National Solar Tour Spotlight: An innovative solar car battery charger in San Diego that neighborhood electric car drivers love.

solar car battery charger
Photo: National Solar Tour

By Terri Steele

The 2010 National Solar Tour, organized by the American Solar Energy Society, is Saturday, Oct. 2.

California’s #1 Solar City is helping build momentum to make the 2010 American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour the most successful grassroots solar event in history.

Early adopter San Diegans are driving national solar trends that bring a holistic, economically-viable approach to this year’s tour. These solar-savvy residents are opening the doors to their innovative, solar-powered homes – and to the stories behind their emissions-saving plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) -- during San Diego’s leg of the Oct. 2 tour.

The self-guided San Diego Solar Homes Tour features 48 homes of a variety of architectural considerations across San Diego County.

Home owner Charlie Johnson will be highlighting a 4 kW Enginer PHEV20, replete with a transfer switch that allows his electric vehicle to serve as back-up to power home essentials in case of emergency -- an important consideration in earthquake-prone San Diego.

Chris Wakeham, whose zero carbon home features solar PV and solar thermal to collectively handle his air conditioning, hot tub, water heating and appliance demands, is eager to live a zero carbon lifestyle. He knows purchasing a Nissan LEAF to cover the 7,000 miles he drives each year will help drive that goal.

After calculating electricity needs for his much-anticipated vehicle, he considered the fact that his wife – who shares his responsible lifestyle choices – may want a LEAF as well. With that, he’s added 10 SANYO 210 HIT panels to his rooftop. But he’s not stopping there.

“I deliberately oversized the inverter so I could easily add up to another 10 SANYO HIT panels if need be. There is a baby on the way, so an additional PV system was clearly needed,” he said. The amount of energy required for that new arrival may be a bit more difficult to estimate, but worth every additional kilowatt hour.

Another, solar tour hostess Jeanie Anderson, likes to put a plug in for solar wherever possible. The engineer and self-described solar evangelist will be using solar energy as a means to put an energizing plug into her new electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF. Anderson’s LEAF – anticipated to bring her a new fuel bill windfall in the new year -- will be one of the first on American streets in 2011.

“When I sized a solar PV system for my home back in 2005, I scaled it up to fit what energy demands I would need for my theoretical electric car. The solar energy I’m generating means I never have to think about my electric bill again,” she said. And the additional kilowatt hours (kWh) she’s generating with her rooftop solar have been so effective, she says once her LEAF arrives, the energy credits she produces during peak daytime hours will allow her to charge her LEAF for free. “On sunny summer days like today, I can generate a juicy 24 kWh. How many LEAF miles is that? Exactly 100 miles, the range of this remarkable vehicle! I’ll never have to visit a gas station again,” she exclaimed.

Take a virtual tour of Anderson’s home to enjoy an appetizing array of insights to optimize the benefits of today’s sustainable solar lifestyle.


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