A solar photovoltaic (PV) array at the Peichel family house produces clean, renewable electricity. The solar electricity is fed into the utility grid during the day. At night, they plug in their electric and plug-in hybrid cars and draw electricity from the grid for charging their batteries.
Q and A: Dave Peichel
What do you like about driving an electric vehicle?
These cars are fun to drive because they are so different from gas-powered cars. They accelerate quickly due to their instant torque and are quiet.
Why did you decide to install solar panels?
Reducing our carbon footprint is the main reason we are driving plug-in electric cars. We wanted to produce power for this car using the sun instead of coal, so we installed the solar system on our home. Another reason is the ability to produce power for ourselves and not send money to oil companies for transportation.
How do you use your EV?
Dave Peichel uses the full electric car for his work commute — 18 miles each way. It serves as the primary family vehicle if they are not going out of town. Marnie Peichel typically drives the plug-in hybrid electric car. Her trips are within a five mile radius so she can run off the hybrid’s batteries. This allows her to run only on battery power for most of her trips.
Did anything change about the way you drive?
We are a little more conscious about how many miles we drive. For example, we do not just run out and take a trip somewhere. We think more about planning trips and running other errands which are on the way to our destination. There is an awareness about saving energy and miles that you develop. This includes taking short cuts and reducing use of the high speed, less efficient freeway driving.
What about cost and energy usage?
During this last calendar year the solar system was producing 75% of our home and car electrical power. The electric cars account for about a quarter to a third of the total energy use. The long-term payback for the solar system is in the 10 to 15 year range — possibly sooner if there are changes to the solar tariff rates.