A Tesla in the Garage + Home Solar Power = Energy Freedom

I’ve always been interested in the idea of using home solar to make my own “electric fuel”, and when someone posted on Twitter that he just sold his ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle and replaced it with a Tesla Model Y, thereby achieving an all-EV household, I found it intriguing.

The poster is Darrell, who lives in the Bay Area of California. He has a YouTube channel where he shares many videos about his vehicles and solar power. When we replace ICE vehicles with all-electric ones, we aren’t just getting another new car. We are opening up possibilities that ICE cars don’t have. One is installing a home solar power system that can be used to also charge an EV, or more than one.

Some EV owners charge entirely from electricity they generate themselves. Such people do not have to pay for ever expensive gasoline or diesel. They also don’t have to pay for it with dollars that are worth less in periods of high inflation, like right now. The future of electric vehicles is one in which EV owners have the ability to create their own electricity at home. It could be solar power, solar power + battery storage, solar power + small wind power, or solar power + small wind power + battery storage. Such configurations allow homeowners to enjoy energy freedom. This kind of energy freedom is not common today, but there are some early adopters who have embraced the technology, such as Darrell, who answered some questions about his home system for CleanTechnica.

How many Teslas do you have now and which one did you get most recently?

We now are an all-EV household. We have two Teslas now — a 2018 MR Model 3 and a 2022 Performance Model Y.  We just picked up the Model Y a few weeks ago.

Why did you get that particular model?

Since we have our little family now with a small infant, we needed the extra space. We also have 2 dogs we bring around with us, so cramming both the dogs and a baby in the Model 3 was way too tight. Having the hatch in the Model Y makes trips much easier for us now (the dogs are leashed in the hatch).

Image Credit: Darrell/nukem384

So far, what do you like the most about it and the least?

The most — the power! I didn’t get a Performance Model Y for nothing, haha. Romping it and getting thrown into the seat doesn’t get old.

The least — the staggered wheels were a surprise to me. Great for performance if you’re tracking the car or really pushing it (which I don’t do at all really), but a bigger hit to the wallet because the tires will wear faster and you can’t rotate them.

Which was the first one you got and how many miles have you driven it so far?

We got the Model 3 at the end of 2018 and it has about 25,000 miles on it now. We don’t drive a ton, but the car has been super reliable and we haven’t had any issues with it so far.

What are some of its best features and what is not so good?

Best — having Autopilot is really nice. No, it doesn’t allow you to sleep at the wheel, but it really helps on long trips. I think of it as a sidekick of sorts that helps you drive.

Worst — the silly windshield wipers that have a mind of their own.

Is there anything you would change about it?

One thing that bothers me about Teslas in general is the curved back. Yes, it makes the car look great. But, functionality wise, it becomes annoying because you can’t haul as much stuff around and items you’d be able to fit in a traditional crossover or SUV, you sometimes can’t fit in a Tesla.

Would you ever go back to owning and driving a gas-powered vehicle?

Absolutely not. Since we don’t really road trip all that often and we pretty much never drive so far that we’d need to “fill up” twice in a day, EVs work perfect for us. Drive around all day, do your things, and then charge when you get home. So convenient, no gas stations, no waiting.

Image Credit: Darrell/nukem384

What do you think people who don’t own EVs misunderstand about them?

Everything. “Did you hear about that Tesla that caught fire?” “Doesn’t it take 2 hours to charge?” There are differences, yes. Some good and some bad. But what people need to understand is that overall, EVs are better for the environment, even if you get your energy from a mixed grid. It’s especially better if you have solar to complement your EV and house usage. If you have home charging, EVs are so much more convenient, they save you money, and they are a much cleaner way to transport your family. If you can afford that upfront cost, it’ll save you a ton in the long run.

Do you also have a home solar power system, and if so, what size in kW?

We do have a home solar system. It’s a 5.2kW system. Not super huge, but it’ll generate 9,000kWh/year for us. For us, this is enough to power both EVs and all of our house usage. Pretty much “free” energy for the next 25 years. “Free” being until we hit our ROI on the upfront cost in about 5–7 years. Then the energy will actually be free for the next 20 or so years.

Do you use any of the solar power to charge your EVs?

Yes. Both our EVs and house are 100% powered from the sun. 100% renewable energy. It’s a good feeling knowing you aren’t increasing your carbon footprint by driving around your car or turning your AC on at your house.

Do you also have battery storage at home?

We do not. Since PG&E still has 1:1 net metering, we just use the grid as a massive battery pack. In our area, we have an outage like once every few years for under an hour, as it doesn’t make sense to spend all that money on something we’ll actually use a few times in the batteries lifetime.


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