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Charging the Nissan Leaf with solar power

His motives are as transparent as the California sky on a typical day, but Michael Powers is brilliantly marketing his solar power company by installing his products on his own home to show their practicality in charging his Nissan Leaf from power produced completely without any emissions. Powers is Co-founder and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Stellar Solar in Encinitas.
Posted: May 20, 2011 - 1:27PM
Author: Don Bain

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Of course, he got the idea from a couple of customers, namely Peter and Julie Norby of Carlsbad, California, who installed a Stellar Solar system a year ago to power their Mini E electric Mini Cooper.

"Given our standing as one of the leading residential solar and commercial solar installers in San Diego County, purchasing the Nissan Leaf and powering it with a Stellar Solar installed system provide great real-world examples of both," said Powers. "Besides that, on a personal cost savings level, I am now driving for around 2 cents per mile (versus 20 cents for a gasoline car) and saving over $2,000 per year on fuel costs alone."

The Stellar Solar Nissan Leaf has an attention-grabbing vinyl graphic shouting out "Powered by the Sun and Stellar Solar." Its faux solar panels also get it lots of attention on the roads and parking lots around San Diego.

"The response has been amazing," he said. "People first comment on the innovative design and good looks of the car, then they realize we are powering it with solar and they get very curious. I've already talked to a number of people who are seriously considering solar and an electric vehicle as a result of seeing this car."

More information is available on the Stellar Solar Nissan Leaf as well as Peter and Julie Norby's Mini E at

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Electrk (not verified)    May 21, 2011 - 12:47AM

I bought my solar leaf charger from They've been sellig electric vehicle solar charging systems for over 3 years. They offered me a price guaranty that said they would beat any dealer's advertised price or my system would be free, sounded too good to be true, so I took them up on it. So far no other dealer has even come close to what I paid and I'm really happy with the performance and their service. My system included the new solaredge inverter and power optimizers which gave me better performance than enphase because of its much higher efficiency rating which gave me a bigger cash rebate from the state, plus I got shade mitigation and individual solar panel monitoring and Mitsubishi electric solar panels. If you're buying a Leaf, I'd highly recommend checking out.

Anonymous (not verified)    May 21, 2011 - 2:31AM

In reply to by Electrk (not verified)

Dan Shugar, the CEO of Solaria Corporation, has been charging his electric vehicle from a solar power array for more than a decade. It's a terrific way to use renewable energy.

William Smith (not verified)    May 21, 2011 - 8:26AM

It seems a great way to save some bucks which can be used for future investment. Saving on such daily needs can make you a big amount in near future. Thank for share, I too will try similar idea.

Breath on the Wind (not verified)    May 26, 2011 - 3:40PM

It does not seem particularly clear from the article that the Leaf is not being charged directly from the solar panels as this would mean that you would not have the use of the vehicle during daylight hours. A more typical senerio is daytime power is sold to the local utility or used to offset the electric usage at peak daytime rates. The vehicle is then charged at off peak rates at night. This is essentially the definition of net metering and may also include the discounts found in "time of use" metering. The local utility may not have these programs in place.

Such a system does have the potential of increasing the ROI of a solar PV panel system (or reducing the "payback" period) because in addition to the price of electricity being compared to the installation cost, the offset cost of gasoline might also be considered. The faux PV panels on the vehicle are a starting point for a conversation and longer explaination that must take place.