Fuel your BMW i3 with 100% Solar Power

Whaling City Solar isn’t just about installing solar panels in New Bedford and the surrounding region (even though we’re great at it). We want to help you understand where, how and why that solar energy is so helpful to your home.  This series of articles is dedicated to the growing percentage of the population that drives electric vehicles. Doesn’t it feel like EVs and solar panels go hand in hand? They do, and we’re here to show you exactly why!

Today’s model: The BMW i3

How much would this car add to your electric bill?

The BMW i3 has an travel efficiency of around 30kWh/100mi (fueleconomy.gov). So for the next 15,000 mile year driving your new BMW will consume a total of 4,500kWh, which is 375kWh per month. That means on your electric bill you would be adding 375kWh to each month in that chart in the upper left of the second page.

Your 375 additional kWhs are multiplied by each and every line item on the right side of your electricity bill, and to save you the math – they all add up to $0.22/kWh.

For example if in the summer your meter reads 1000kWh because of the AC running, that bill would come for $220. Using the same logic, the 375W kWh of extra electricity for our car is going to cost us on average about $82.50 per month. I say that’s a pretty good deal compared to the sister model which takes $122/month driving the same distance with gas at $2.93/gallon.

Over the 6 year expected life span of the car, that’s $2,900 saved driving the electric version vs the gas version!

How many solar panels would it take to power my BMW i3 all year?

How many solar panels would it take to generate 375kWh per month? If you have a moderately sunny roof twelve Q.PEAK DUO BLK HL-G9 380W panels would get the job done. If you have a very sunny roof you could drop that number to ten panels. That’s less than half the roof area on a 1100sqft. home!

Is it a good idea to fill up the roof and offset the rest of the bill at the same time? Of course it is. However today we’re just looking at the power for the EV itself and its extra $82.50/month electric charge.

Those 10 panels would cost a total of around $9,200 after tax rebates to purchase outright. In addition to no longer paying the extra $82.50/month EV charges on the utility bill, your 10 panels will also generate another $40/month in state incentives through the Massachusetts SMART program. A little pocket money for helping out the environment.

Between the electric savings and incentives your solar project will pay for itself in 5 years. During your car’s 6 year life span, the solar panels will have already completely paid for themselves in year 5! Now your electric car, which already saved you $2,900 vs. paying for gas, is powered by local, free Massachusetts sunshine. That’s pretty amazing stuff. What’s really amazing is that while the car gets traded in for pennies on the dollar, the panels are ready to give you another 20 years of clean power without needed any maintenance.

This same array will likely be providing free power for the next 3-4 EV’s that will call your driveway home. That’s a great idea of what to do with solar power in my book.

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