A six-month trial using a new two-in-one solar inverter and electric car charger has shown the massive savings to be had from driving on the free energy resource right above our heads – the sun.
Small business owners Garth James had the unique opportunity of trialling the new inverter from SolarEdge, which was first introduced to the Australian market in late 2019, as reported by The Driven.
The vast majority of electric vehicle owners charge their cars at home, much like a mobile phone. While this is often done at night, the new inverter allows EV owners to take advantage of daytime charging.
According to James, who switched from a Mitsubishi Pajero to a Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, the savings have been substantial.
“I’ve gone from spending $600 a month on fuel to basically driving just on sunshine,” James said in an emailed note.
James says is he now spending a measly $20 a month on fuel instead, and that compared to his previous fuel costs of $600 a month, the projected annual savings are around $7,000.
The savings will help offset the cost of buying the PHEV, which he says he chose because it is more affordable than the higher upfront cost of an all-electric vehicle.
“It’s even more cost effective for businesses that have company cars that are GST exempt. I don’t know why more people aren’t making the switch – it just makes sense from a financial and environmental perspective.”
James installed the SolarEdge inverter at his electrical and solar installation business, and uses it to charge his Outlander PHEV while at the office.
Charging from his 6.6kW solar system, he says he has the choice of only charging off residual power or choosing a “fast mode” to charge it faster.
“If I put it on the residual power it does about 2.3kW, but if it is on “fast” charge it goes at 4kW an hour,” he tells The Driven.
Naturally, where your solar panels are, where you work and how often you are at home will all have an impact on potential individual savings.
“And really anyone can do it with advances in technology like this (combined inverter and charger). I also have solar panels at work because of my business, Go4Solar and Electrical, but people could do this from home during the day or on weekends,” Mr James said.
As SolarEdge Australia managing director Gavin Merchant has previously explained, the two-in-one inverter has a “smart mode” that can be set to only charge an EV when there is solar generation, either using what is available or to “mop up” excess solar on larger systems where not all power generated is exported to the grid.
It can also be set to a “solar boost mode” to charge an electric vehicle up to four times faster than on a typical home EV charger, by combining power from the grid and solar generation.
“Garth is a great example of how households can save thousands in fuel costs and still generate enough excess energy to shave hundreds of dollars from their power bill – savings that could be better put towards a mortgage or a nice family holiday,” says Merchant.
This article has been updated to correct Gavin Merchant’s position as SolarEdge Australia managing director, and to clarify $600/mth fuel costs driving the Mitsibushi Pajero approximately 2,800km a month. James now driving an average of 1,700km a month. Working on current kilometres, savings would equate to $4,250 a year.
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Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.