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I wonder if anyone has investigated the possibility of a small, inexpensive solar panel the puts out 120 volts and 8 amps just for charging a Volt, not the whole house.
 

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a small, inexpensive solar panel the puts out 120 volts and 8 amps
That's 960 watts, that would be impossible to be "small" and the cost of the system would exceed the life-time value of electricity if bought from the grid many times over.

FYI, solar panels are DC, variable output and would require inverters, charge controllers and batteries to be stand-a-lone solution
 

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Small inexpensive solar panel that puts out 1 KW of power (average of 14-18 hours+ to charge car) is a mutually exclusive set of requirements.

To charge a Volt in a day from Solar could require a few square meters of PV panels. You will need more than 1 KW panels to average enough power to charge a Volt in a given day, maybe 2 to 4 kW system depending on where you live. A 265 Watt panel might be 3.25x5.5 feet and you might need 10 of those.

Ideally you would have a solar charging station and a large battery there that stays charged from the sun all day, and can charge an EV quickly when it parks there, this would reduce solar panel requirements, but probably cost 10k+.
 

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I wonder if anyone has investigated the possibility of a small, inexpensive solar panel the puts out 120 volts and 8 amps just for charging a Volt, not the whole house.
This can be done, but it'll take about $6000 in hardware, plus up to another $1000 for installation and setup. That's like 20 years of charging your Volt using grid power in most places.
 

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As much as I love photo-voltaics, this wind turbine would be a better solution (if you have the wind) and you are still talking at least 6 grand to get it all set up.

as a sort of "reality check" I submit the following facts.

It's commonly accepted that "peak" solar power (if you had a mythical 100% efficient system) would be roughly 1kWh/square meter. Thats it, that is all the sunlight hitting the ground.
however
Common solar cells are about 20% efficient now (with some experimental designs pushing 41%) so the current reality is about 4 square meters of photo-voltaic panels to produce 1kWh, less if it's cloudy or early/late in the day, or any of a million other factors that decrease sunlight availability.

Given those numbers you can quickly see that charging a Volt with a common photo-electric setup would require a fairly significant investment in equipment AND you would need something like Tesla's "power wall" or some sort of storage setup to hold that charge so you could juice up your car overnight.
 

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A grid tied system with net metering to offset the Volt consumption might be less expensive. I still wouldn't call it inexpensive.
 

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I briefly looked at solar just out of curiosity. With all of the federal and state subsidies and factoring in the astronomical electric rates in Mass (I pay 21.4 cents/KWH which is much higher than most other states) it still would take a minimum of 10 years for them to payoff. I'm 61 so I didn't bother to go any farther with the analysis but if I went further I'm sure that it would actually be much worse because of the trees in my yard and of course the effects of snow in the winter. You also have to take into account that solar panels are all manufactured in China so their long term reliability is questionable.

If you are really interested you need to do the same analysis I did for your location. Find out what the costs are for a system, look at your electricity costs, look at the subsidies available in your state. I'm in Massachusetts which has substantial subsidies and buyback requirements for the power companies, I have no idea what's available in your state. It doesn't matter if the Volt is there during the day, your house uses electricity all of the time and any surplus goes back to the grid. The Volt does provide storage which is the big problem for solar and wind because they don't provide continuous power. However if the Volt is plugged in anywhere on the grid during the day and you have solar panels at your home which are also connected to the grid it nets out the same as if your solar panels were directly charging the Volt. The bottom line is the only reason to buy solar panels is as a green play, they don't make much sense from a strictly economic stand point.
 

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Just fyi, anything ARRA* (2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) compliant is made in the USA. I think Auxin Solar still qualifies.
 

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5.5c/kWh from the grid and availability at night or if I want to be 'green', I can buy 100% wind energy from the grid for 8c/kWh.

Solar is not an option for me
 

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I am charging my Volt off of my solar panels that generate electricity for the house. Actually, the car uses only a small fraction of what I generate. However you would need an inverter and other costs. Get a larger system because a lot of the costs of solar are fixed costs and the larger the system you get, the cheaper it is per watt.
 

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I am charging my Volt off of my solar panels that generate electricity for the house. Actually, the car uses only a small fraction of what I generate. However you would need an inverter and other costs. Get a larger system because a lot of the costs of solar are fixed costs and the larger the system you get, the cheaper it is per watt.
Where do you live? Solar is highly location dependent, a flat treeless desert in a winterless state will do a lot better than a hilly forested area with lots of snow (that's my situation, my tomato plants grow slowly which gives me a good idea of how little sunlight I get).
 

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a flat treeless desert in a winterless state will do a lot better than a hilly forested area with lots of snow
That's not correct, solar produces more power the colder the panels are and the with the snow, reflections increase the isonolation.

Now if the trees or snow are shading the panels, well then, your correct, being tree / snow less is better
 

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While there's some good info here I'm sure you'll get far more information if you join a DIY solar forum...However, I have another recommendation, it would appear you live in Utah, if that's the case you live a state with STRONG net metering which the utilize pays you for excess electricity...Seriously get a free quote to get solar panels if you own your home...
 

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That's not correct, solar produces more power the colder the panels are and the with the snow, reflections increase the isonolation.

Now if the trees or snow are shading the panels, well then, your correct, being tree / snow less is better
You are right about temperature, solar panels are more efficient in the cold. However houses in cold areas are usually multistory because a multistory house retains heat better than a ranch house (i.e the first floor heat has to pass though the second floor before it can get to the attic to escape through the roof). It's a lot harder to remove snow from a tall house than a short one, I also suspect that a snow rake would have a good chance of damaging the solar panels (just guessing about that, if they are well protected then let us know, that's a relevant piece of information).
 

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That's not correct, solar produces more power the colder the panels are and the with the snow, reflections increase the isonolation.

Now if the trees or snow are shading the panels, well then, your correct, being tree / snow less is better
But if it's cold enough to snow a lot, it's likely far enough away from the equator that the insolation sucks for large parts of the year anyway. There's a reason Canada is not a hot bed for solar, while Arizona / Nevada are (being dry / cloudless helps too).
 

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One user was looking into if the volt charger would accept DC directly (don't recall seeing if an answer was determined), which could go a long way towards efficient charging via solar (removing the AC->DC conversion steps can boost efficiency meaning fewer panels required)
Even with a battery in the system, you're looking at 90's% efficiency round trip for these battery systems.
vs DC->DC conversion (solar panel to battery, if the voltages don't match up), DC -> AC Conversion (battery to inverter) -> AC -> DC conversion (standard vehicle charging via AC EVSE) - probably losing a good 30% of your power in that process. That means 30% more solar energy needed to provide the same result in the vehicle battery

You are right about temperature, solar panels are more efficient in the cold. However houses in cold areas are usually multistory because a multistory house retains heat better than a ranch house (i.e the first floor heat has to pass though the second floor before it can get to the attic to escape through the roof). It's a lot harder to remove snow from a tall house than a short one, I also suspect that a snow rake would have a good chance of damaging the solar panels (just guessing about that, if they are well protected then let us know, that's a relevant piece of information).
My parents don't touch their panels, ever. Unless it is an excessively large snowfall all at once or an ice storm, the panels clear themselves (between wind and sun-melt) quite quickly.
You lose a day or two of generation on a big snowfall, but not like it happens every week.

Only thing you've got to be careful of is if there is a large buildup, you can get "avalanches".

Higher latitude also typically means higher fixed angle = easier for snow to slide off.

edit: I probably should have looked for the post first! Just so happens he posted within the last day that it was successful:
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?234610-Can-Volt-Charge-from-DC
 

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My parents don't touch their panels, ever. Unless it is an excessively large snowfall all at once or an ice storm, the panels clear themselves (between wind and sun-melt) quite quickly.
How much of a problem this is doubtless depends on the climate. There lots of different kinds of snow. People who live in the Pacific Northwest ("left coast") or around the Great Lakes / Eastern Seaboard tend to get heavy, wet snow - that stuff sticks around for a lot longer and if you have repeated snowfalls it just continues to accumulate.

But the Great Plains or the Prairies get very dry, fluffy snow that easily blows off in the wind. Many of the roads out there "plow themselves" because they're built up above the general ground level so that the wind just blows it away.
 

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We're about 750m from a great lake ;)
and it's not a persistent issue.

It would have to be "goldilocks" snow to stick.
Heavy snow -> slides off due to angle of panels and smooth glass
Light snow -> blows off by wind
"just right" snow -> has to be melted by sun or air temps. Not common for us.
 
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