At Ipsun Solar, we often get the question: can I drive my car on 100% solar energy?
Historically, this has been a very tricky question to answer. Now with more energy storage on the market, it’s a bit easier. The short answer is that without storage, your car would only charge with solar energy when it’s plugged in at home and the sun is shining. With energy storage, you could charge your car at night after the sun has set, making this a bit easier.
But there’s a much more interesting (and challenging) question beyond this:
How much does it cost to drive on solar?
Well, let’s start by breaking this down a bit.
As a point of comparison, the average price of driving a gas vehicle as of this writing, in the United States, is $3.56/gallon.
So what is the price of driving an electric vehicle using electric “fuel”? This nifty calculator allows you to see how a gas car and EV stack up against one another, apples-to-apples.
My last gas car (please don’t make fun), was a 2006 Chevy Impala. I am aware that this is a cop car, and I have no idea what prompted me to buy it. Fortunately, I sold it about ten years ago!
If I had that car today, and was driving 10,000 miles, I would be paying $1,921 in gas annually, or $19,210 over ten years.
My current EV is a 2022 Tesla Model 3 (Long Range AWD). I spend about $361 annually in electric fuel for this car in my utility territory (Pepco), where my rate is approximately $.14/kilowatt-hour. That is about 18.8% of the cost of driving my gas car.
But wait: I have solar. So surely I must be getting free fuel for my EV, right?
Well, sort of. Of course, all the energy generated from a solar system is free once you pay for the system. It’s like purchasing 30 years of electricity all at once!
But there is still a cost to the system. The average price for solar at Ipsun Solar is around $3/watt and our average system is about 10 kilowatts. There’s also a 30% Federal tax credit for solar, which all comes out to $21,000 for an average system.
So how do we use this information to calculate the cost of driving an EV on solar?
Well if you assume that this average solar system produces 300,000 kilowatt-hours over its lifetime, dividing that into the net cost of $21,000, would result in a “levelized cost of electricity” (LCOE) that is $.07/kWh.
If I drive my EV 10,000 miles/year for 10 years (100,000 miles total), I would use 25,839 kWh over ten years to power the car.
Now let’s go back to the $361/year it costs to drive my EV on grid power. Of course that is going to rise over time as utility rates rise. Let’s assume an inflation rate of 4% over ten years, and a utility rate of $.20/kWh average over those ten years. That means I would be paying an average of $561/year or $5,610 over ten years to drive my EV on grid power, when you account for utility rate inflation.
If you take the 25,839 kWh all powered on solar at $.07/kWh (LCOE), that comes out to $1,808.78 to drive my EV on solar over ten years. First, let’s just stop to marvel at that. That’s a mere $180.88/year to drive an EV on solar!
That’s less than 10% the cost of driving a gas car!
Driving a gas car for ten years costs $19,210.
Driving an EV on grid power for ten years costs $5,610.
Driving an EV on solar power for ten years costs $1,809.
Wow, that is incredible savings!
Reach out to us to learn more! We’d love to help you save money on your EV fuel by installing solar. Give us a call at 703-249-6594 or click below to get in touch. We love geeking out about your LCOE with you!