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I drive electric and so can you!

To celebrate the upcoming National Drive Electric Week, today’s blog post comes from former Ipsun Solar marketing manager (and forever member of the Ipsun Family) Hannah Wiegard! She shares her recent experience with buying an electric car to meet her growing family’s needs for a reliable and safe vehicle, while helping protect the environment.

Last summer, I was enjoying being pregnant with my daughter. As we prepared to become a family of three, my spouse Antonio and I spent a bunch of time discussing how individual actions and society’s systems have environmental impacts. Could we do more to live out our values and model a better example for our little girl?

That September, we found ourselves at a fantastic event in downtown Fairfax, the annual Drive Electric festival where EV drivers gathered with their vehicles to talk with prospective owners and answer their questions. Several local organizations were also tabling there, including the Northern Virginia affiliate group of Generation 180, where climate change campaigners were encouraging attendees to pledge to make their next car an EV – no gas. We realized that in the nearly ten years since we last picked out a car together, internal combustion engine-free car options have burgeoned. We signed up and committed to go electric.

Seeing ourselves in an EV

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when after toughing out most of the summer in my nine year old Honda Insight with broken air conditioning, lack of modern safety features, and a backseat that was feeling mighty cramped with the baby’s carseat taking up half the room, and we heard that the EV we had in mind was finally available in Virginia.

What makes the Kia Niro EV right for us is the range, which is rated at 240 miles on a charge but we find easily stretches further, which is super helpful on a 3 hour drive to the beach to save time recharging on the road and means we don’t have to plug in at home after every outing. This is a totally unpaid, unsolicited, voluntary plug: Cars like this one make it easy to choose all-electric – in our view Kia is doing a great job of producing a car for hatchback lovers that need a little upgrade in interior space.

Keeping it charged

About a month after driving the car home, we had an EV charger installed. Since we don’t have a garage, the installers planned to make sure the equipment would all be outdoor rated, and we got an extra outlet for Christmas lights put in while we were at it. 

Antonio and Ginny with the EV 2_edited

Our home has a solar energy rooftop system installed by Ipsun Solar in spring of 2019, so it’s cool to know that some of that energy is going into our car battery! You can read more about electric vehicles-plus-solar and net energy metering on the Ipsun blog

The charging system installation went really well, and took about half a day for the work to be done. It didn’t require any work being done in finished/livable spaces which is convenient for reducing contact between contractors and homeowners. Our only small complication was that for code reasons we had to keep the charger away from the gas meter and line that serves our fireplace which necessitated a little more work to finish the job. 

We’ve also already plugged in on the go out in the world a bunch of times too – at a coffee shop/brewery in Merrifield where we were getting a takeout order; at an outlet mall on our way to the beach; at a public charger in Ashland, VA off I-95 on the way to visit my parents; even at our local Target. The car’s navigation system shows nearby chargers automatically. Plus, with an extension cord the car charges at a somewhat slower rate even from a regular standard outlet.

Go ahead and green your ride now 

There are tax credits for buying a new EV and most makes are still eligible – take a look at the US Department of Energy’s site for a refresher on how the tax credits are intended to be taken and how they are phasing out. 

As a note on public health and the car buying experience, we would hope that every showroom is handling things as safely and cautiously as the dealership we dealt with, where all test drives are unaccompanied, the only time together with a representative in the vehicle is briefly showing the special energy efficient functions like auto hold, eco and eco plus drive modes, and ventilated seats to save on the need for cooling air, if you’re lucky enough to have them. If you haven’t ever been behind the wheel of an all-electric car, you’re in for a treat with a smooth ride, crazy get-up-and-go acceleration, and a pretty unbeatable feeling.

We’re super excited to join the electric car movement, helping make the air in our community just a little cleaner and voting with every mile we drive for using electricity in transportation as much as possible. We challenge anyone in the market for a new ride to give EVs a really close look and don’t make presumptions about limitations – we have a feeling we’re not going to miss pumping gasoline, an overheated front end, belts, breathing exhaust, or oil changes one single bit.

Want to learn more about installing an EV charger at your home, or about right-sizing your solar project for an electric vehicle? Talk to our solar experts anytime- they’re here to help! Give us a shout at (703) 249-6594 or fill out this form to get answers to your questions. 


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