Can an Electric Car Shorten the Solar Payback Period?

An electric vehicle could help cut the break even period of your Los Angeles solar energy system in half.

Electric vehicles and plug-in models like the Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 are becoming much more viable options for customers looking to save money on gasoline and energy costs. EV technology used be to very expensive, and though it still remains on the high end of the price spectrum for many drivers, it’s quickly moving in the direction of being more affordable for many families.

At the same time, solar power is rapidly bringing renewable energy to a wider market of customers in Southern California.

So, this begs the question: Can energy users who want to capitalize on these trends take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of both? Does having an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle increase the value of a rooftop solar energy system?

In an article on GigaOM, a technology news site, writer Kevin C. Tofel, wrote about how he had installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on his home and bought a Chevrolet Volt. He claimed that the purchase of the car had shortened the solar payback period on his PV system by half.

Tofel figured that three-quarters of the family’s driving was powered by electricity from the solar panels, saving roughly $2,400 a year in gasoline costs. At the same time, Tofel was spending $2,500 less on electricity for his home annually, for a combined savings of $4,900. While he had originally projected the break-even point on his PV system to be about 11 years before buying the Volt, the gasoline savings after the purchase meant he would hit that point at about 6 years after buying the solar panels.

It’s worth mentioning that the results for solar customers in Orange County and Los Angeles could vary from Tofel’s. He purchased a relatively oversized system for his house, plus he lives in Pennsylvania, which has different incentives than California. But, it wouldn’t be very difficult for California customers to outpace these results, as electric rates and gasoline prices in the Golden State are much higher than those in Pennsylvania.

If you are interested in purchasing a solar system to offset electricity costs of your home and electric vehicle, contact AMECO Solar today. One of our solar consultants will be able to run the numbers to figure out the size of the solar system that you will need and how long it will take to hit the break-even point.