Can the solar panel array on your roof handle charging your electric car, too?

solar panel electric car

Can a solar panel array handle charging your electric car, too? It depends on a number of factors.

You can virtually disconnect from your local utility company by putting a solar panel system on your roof. As long as you’re making that move, why not take it a step further and disconnect from the gas pump, too? You can, as long as your solar panel system can handle charging your electric car, as well as providing electricity for your home.

If you own a Tesla, Nissan Leaf, or Chevy Bolt, for instance, a solar energy system on your roof can serve as a substitute for the gas pump.

Most people spend about $2,000 per year at the gas pumps purchasing gasoline for their cars. At that rate, with an electric car, it won’t take too many years to recover the cost for the solar panels required to charge their electric cars. And, if gas prices go up, they can cash in on the savings even faster.

Of course, this also depends on whether someone is purchasing a system for their home that will also provide electricity to recharge the batteries in their electric car or whether they’re adding on to an existing solar array for an electric car. It’s important to note that Illinois solar incentive programs do not apply when adding on to an existing system – they apply to new systems only.

The question is how many solar panels you will need to charge your electric car and will you have enough left over to provide energy for the home or office.

Assuming you have an optimal location for your solar panels – a Southern exposure without obstructions – six to eight panels (in addition to the panels providing solar energy for your home or office), producing 300 watts each, is generally considered enough to recharge your electric car when its battery is low. If your home has an East-West exposure, you may need additional solar panels to make up the difference in lower output per panel.

These numbers assume that, like most people, you drive about 1,000 miles per month. If you drive more than that you may need more electricity to operate your car; you may need more panels to keep up. The same is true if you’re prone to jack-rabbit starts. In other words, both the distance you travel and the way you drive your electric car are considerations.

To think that a solar array on your roof could help you to virtually disconnect from the local utility company and the gas pump is a little slice of Nirvana.

GOing Solar presentation at McHenry Public Library turns into interactive discussion

GOing solar energy presentation

Paul LaBarbera, with Magitek Energy Systems, gave a presentation on GOing Solar at the McHenry Public Library April 25.

Enthusiastic audience engages solar expert in ongoing Q&A

The seats were still filling as Paul LaBarbera, the owner of Magitek Energy Solutions, a solar energy systems installer, stepped to the podium and began his presentation Wednesday night at the McHenry Public Library. There was a Question-and-Answer session planned for after but the audience was having no part of waiting. Only minutes into his talk, LaBarbera was interrupted by the first of a welcome barrage of questions.

The audience was engaged, on the edge of their seats: they wanted to know about the potential for solar energy at their homes and offices and LaBarbera is one of the foremost experts in the field. Having installed more than 100 solar energy systems, he has the most difficult certification from Underwriters Laboratory – the only installer in Illinois with that certification.

Instead of a presentation, LaBarbera led an energetic discussion about solar energy and its potential. Instead of a Q&A session, when finished, LaBarbera and his assistant, Jacqueline Stern, sat down one-on-one with those in attendance, who had brought their electric bills along, to provide estimates of the cost and viability of installing one of these systems on their home or office.

LaBarbera had created a slide presentation to accompany the discussion. It was loosely followed as a map for the interactive process that took over. The slide presentation included:

  • How solar systems work
  • Illinois solar market trends
  • Components of a solar panel system
  • Types of solar panels and manufacturers
  • The ins-and-outs of inverters
  • Mounting systems
  • Benefits of going solar
  • Incentive programs
  • Finding a reliable installer
  • Frequently asked questions, including costs, installation time and issues, etc.

LaBarbera put numerous concerns to rest, such as issues related to proper installation of solar panel systems and the risks of roof leaks following installation of a system. While he admitted that he’s had to fix systems installed by other suppliers that caused leaks, he added that “Of all the systems I’ve done, we’ve never had a leak.”

He indicated that these systems have improved in quality over the years and will provide electricity at virtually the same level for years to come, where older systems lost their mojo over time. In the process, he said the value of solar panel systems will only increase.

“What’s the one thing I can tell you – electricity prices will go up. If you install a solar system that won’t be your concern.”

Illinois has great potential for solar energy systems

Illinois great for solar energy

Actually, Illinois is about as great a place for solar panels as any of the Southern States.

You don’t have to be an expert on solar panels to know that Illinois is not the optimal place to install a solar panel system on your home, right? Think about it; with all that winter, certainly, you’re wasting half the year on days when the temperature is hardly conducive to solar energy production. Wrong!

Actually, Illinois is a great place for a solar panel system

How can that make sense? Winter in Northern Illinois generally lasts from early to mid-November through March and into April. Approximately, five months out of each year, in these parts, is under the blanket of winter. What good is a solar panel system in the middle of winter?

If the temperature had anything to do with the production of solar energy, you would have a point thinking that Northern Illinois is not in the optimal hemisphere for production of solar energy. But, the temperature actually has nothing to do with it.

In the winter, there is less sunlight and sunlight is the crucial factor for producing solar energy. But, there is still enough sunlight to make solar panels viable in Northern Illinois – plenty of sunlight. Even on a cloudy day, solar panels are producing solar energy – have you ever gotten a sunburn on a cloudy day? It’s the same principle. Even on cloudy days, solar panels can capture solar energy.

Look at it this way: you could even install a solar panel system on the North Pole. Granted, during that long night, from Dec. 21 until early March, there is no sunlight and your solar panels will generally stand by idle waiting for the sun to come back. But, you’d make up for it in summer when daylight lasts almost the entire season.temperature has nothing to do with solar energy

In Northern Illinois, we don’t have a night that lasts for several months. Then again, we also don’t have a day that lasts almost an equal period. Instead, we have 365 days out of the year that a solar panel system can create solar energy, assuming it’s properly installed. And, if optimally installed, we’re talking about a solar panel system that will take a big bite out of your electric bill, if not eliminating your electric bill altogether.

Statistics show that the Midwest is virtually on par with southwestern cities in the average solar resources available. This makes Northern Illinois an excellent location for adding a solar panel system to your home or office.