Electric Cars in Cold Weather
Jan 13, 2023
by EmPower Solar
Last year was a tough one for New Yorkers. The spring of 2022 brought record-breaking gas prices, causing drivers to second-guess their traditional gasoline powered vehicles. Then summertime brought higher than average temperatures and electric bills for homeowners across the state. These increased costs, which have continued into the new year, have many reconsidering how to fuel their homes and vehicles. Many are looking to invest in an electric vehicle, but have concerns about electric cars in cold weather.
The good news is that EV’s are just as energy-efficient in the cold as they are in the heat. The best way to increase your electric vehicles range during winter is by investing in a home charging station + solar. This pairing offers you the most savings and energy resiliency.
Solar + EV charging
The best way to prevent high energy costs and save more money month over month is by pairing a home solar system with an electric vehicle. In general, the average cost of a system can be anywhere from $20,000-$40,000. We offer three distinct ways to pay for solar; solar loan/financing, purchasing, or leasing.
When you install solar panels at your home, you are able to lower your bills through a program called net metering. The extra energy your system creates is sent back to the grid for you to use when your system is less productive, like at night or on cloudy days. Because of this, many customers end up paying only $20 a month to PSEG, which is the required grid connection fee. Ultimately, we estimate the total savings homeowners can see during their systems 25-year lifetime to be around $100,000.
Buying a car is no simple process. There is a lot of decision making that goes into it. Over the past few years, the electric vehicle market has expanded rapidly. There is now a car for every driver. After making the initial investment in an EV, they still offer the most savings as compared to traditional gasoline powered cars.
While charging your car with a public charger or using grid energy offers more savings than a conventional vehicle, pairing an EV home charger with solar offers you the most savings. NYSERDA has also created a calculator where you can compare EV’s to traditional gasoline vehicles so you can determine potential savings.
Solar + EV efficiency in the winter
There’s a common misconception that the hotter the temperature, the more energy home solar panels produced. In reality, the ideal temperature for the most efficiency is a clear, cool sunny day. New Yorkers are lucky to experience all four seasons, which means there are certain times of the year where solar systems produce more energy than others.
Your system will be slightly less productive during the winter, not because of the cold temperatures, but because of the lower position of the sun and fewer daylight hours. Because of the net metering program mentioned above, you won’t see your electric bill increase dramatically.
EV’s can also be affected by cold temperatures. AAA estimates that the driving range of some EV’s can be decreased by as much as 41 percent when the internal heater is on. High temperatures can also have a similar effect. When outside temperatures reach 95 degrees and the air conditioner is running, the driving range can be decreased by 17 percent.
Drivers can avoid range reductions in a few ways. The first is making sure to plan ahead and identify locations of charging stations. There are a few apps drivers can use to do this, including AAA’s own mobile app, Chargepoint, Plug Share, or EVgo. Drivers can also adjust the temperature of their car while it is still charging to reduce battery demand after the car is in motion. When parking, leaving the car inside a garage will help prevent the temperature of the car from changing drastically.
Increase EV resiliency
There’s nothing as panic-inducing as seeing your gas meter drop to 0 with no gas station in sight. This is no different for an EV owner, and the community even has a special name for this kind of worry: “range anxiety.”
Luckily, you can prevent range anxiety in a number of ways. The easiest is by installing an EV charger at your home and pairing it with a home solar system. The most popular option being a level 2 EV charger. EmPower Solar’s in-house design team will appropriately size your home solar system to provide enough electricity for your home and electric vehicle charger, as well as any future home electrification upgrades you may be considering, like swapping your gas stove for an electric stove or making the switch from oil/gas to a heat pump. Just like there are a number of different options for EVs, there are also a few different chargers.
|AC Level 1||Can vary based on car, but typically adds 4 miles per hour and takes 8-16 hours to fully charge|
|AC Level 2||Add 20-30 miles per hour or charge and take 6-8 hours to fully charge an all-electric vehicle. Takes 1 hour less to fully charge most plug-in hybrid vehicles.|
|Level 3||Also called DC fast charging. Adds 40-50+ miles per hour depending on the kW power of the charge unit. Can charge 80% of battery in as low as 30 minutes.|
|V3||Tesla Supercharger charges at a rate of 250kW, or 75 miles in 5 minutes. Unfortunately these are only available for Tesla customers.|
It’s important to note that if you already have a solar system installed and it wasn’t sized to accommodate an EV charger, you may see your electricity bill increase. If you’re an EmPower Solar customer, we can help you expand your system and install additional panels to keep your monthly electric bill low.
Adding a solar system and a home charger offer you the most savings, and can help reduce your range anxiety when you fully charge your vehicle at home.
Contact us for a free solar estimate today to find out today if your home is right for solar. We can help design a system large enough to fully charge any EV and keep your lights on.
If you cannot install panels for any reason, there’s still good news. You can still participate in our referral program and earn up to $550 in rewards.
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About the Author
EmPower Solar develops, engineers, installs, and services solar and battery systems for residential and commercial clients. Since 2003, EmPower Solar has empowered thousands of New York homeowners and businesses with 47 megawatts of distributed solar. Its vision is to create a new energy paradigm powered by clean, renewable energy for a more prosperous, healthy, and civil world. The company culture is defined by the EmPowering Way, which results in consistent 5-star customer service reviews. For more information visit empower-solar.com.