Electric vehicles are awesome for our health, anyone and anything that prefers oxygen over pollution, our comfort, and much more, but they are even more awesome if they are drinking electricity from solar panels.
That should be a given. It’s easy to realize that we should all be driving on sunshine, and “energy independence” is one of the key selling points of EVs. But there are a lot of ways to juice up on solar power, and knowing which to choose may not always be so easy.
Of course, if you can stick solar panels on your roof, you should do that. If you have a chance to use Tesla’s solar-powered Superchargers, that’s super awesome. If you happen to spot one of the beautiful solar-powered “Point One S” BMW chargers (above), you know you better stop and take some photos while you charge (especially if you’re driving the Top Gear “Car of the Year,” the BMW i8).
But what about practical solar EV charging solutions that don’t fit the above situations? What about workplace charging, parking lots, parking garages, condos/apartments, off-grid charging, etc?
Luckily, there are a lot of solutions out there. Panasonic and Powertree have a solution. SolarCity offers simple but practical solar carports. Advansolar (and I’m sure others) have their own solar carports utilizing top-of-the-line SunPower solar panels. Envision Solar offers slightly more nuanced “solar trees,” as do others.
Via Motors offers a solar tonneau for its plug-in hybrid electric trucks, which are aimed at fleet operators but may also be available to common customers in the coming year.
Things are getting complicated again. Who and what do you choose? I’d be happy to discuss the matter with anyone interested, but if you need to really consider your options for an actual installation, you may want to discuss with an unbiased professional with experience in this side of things. If so, Scott Jones of Ace Parking* may be your man. Ace Parking has installed EV charging stations at many of its own parking facilities — “as many as a half-dozen charging stations at 30 of its lots spread out across Arizona, Maryland, Washington D.C., Texas, and (mostly) California.”
Furthermore, Ace Parking says that it offers advice about and possibly even implementation of solar trees (as well as conventional EV charging stations). I’ve never run across another parking facility company that does so… or any independent company or organization, for that matter.
Solar EV charging is the future, but with the options on the table, it can also be the present. If one of the options above fits your needs, get on it and start driving on sunshine!
*This article was generously supported by Ace Parking.