Why I will never buy an electric car


There were a half dozen sites that I found when I googled slumping solar sales and I was trying to post links for all of them. The article in the Buffalo News, I did not know how to find. Sorry I am so computer inept but I had never used a computer in my life until well after I retired and a mac mini is the only computer I have ever used. My wife and dog are the only othe creatures in my house and I know one of them has never used a computer and I don’t think the dog has either.
I have two books of Macs for Dummies but I don’t know enough to understand either one of them and If I google a computer problem, I never get the item in the drop down menu they tell me I am going to get.

Right now I am trying to uninstall something called mailbutler but so far no go.


Just do what I do and get a guy. Any problem I got I can have him take care of it. He even made a house call for about two hours for $75. Retired Navy computer guy.

Way back, at work I was the first to bring in word processors, then desk top computers, then we created the first network, then re-wired the whole building for networking, etc. So I was on the ground floor battling all the nay-sayers. Then the dam broke some years later and I’m a business guy, not a computer nut, and got lost in the dust. So I don’t even try to keep up now, I just call the guy.


You don’t need a lot of land. You do need roof-tops though. If every rooftop in NYC had solar panels it could reduce electricity usage by 30%. Even 2% is considered significant.


No need to apologize. Everyone’s good at something and bad at something else.

That aside, I’m just not finding evidence that solar production is down at all, much less by 50%. I can see where solar installs could drop, because once you buy a solar system, you don’t need to buy it again for several decades, and so eventually solar will saturate the market.

The way to up the production again is to make solar cheaper to install. I don’t have a solar roof because I don’t have $35,000 just lying around. Drop that by 10 grand or so, and it’s much more likely that I’d pull the trigger.

Even at $35,000 the ROI is pretty good - I pay about $200 / month in electric bills. That’s $2,400 per year. Solar roofs are generally warrantied for 20 years, which means I’d save $48,000 in electric bills for a minimum savings of $13,000. It’d be a sound financial move for me if I only had the startup cash!

And the numbers get even better if you have an electric car. I talked to a guy a few years ago who bought a used Tesla Model S for $40,000 (and because he needed a car anyway, it’s improper to count the whole cost of the car - only the extra money he spent for the Tesla, which comes to maybe 10 grand), then installed the panels.

So now, not only is he potentially saving $48,000 in electric bills, but he’s also saving all that gas money, and he only spent about $10,000 more on the car than he would have if he’d gotten a conventional 2-year-old used high-end car.

Then you add on top of that that, in my state anyway, if you dump surplus power onto the grid, the electric company has to pay you for it. What that boils down to is that the electric company is paying him to fuel up his car.

That kind of setup makes a lot of economic sense, and the only real barrier right now is money - you’ve gotta have a lot of it in order to realize the savings. Most people with money who are interested in signing on have at this point already done so, so yes, it’s entirely feasible that install rates would drop. But momentary drops in sales rates do not automatically mean something is a failure. We do not, to use a current example, consider the turkey industry a failure simply because purchase rates drop after Thanksgiving. :wink:

As the prices come down, install rates will rise again because more people who are interested in adopting it will be able to afford it.


The picture isn’t so rosy around these parts. This time of year, it’s dark by the time I get home. Solar panels are not putting out any power when I need to recharge a car. That power is coming from the traditional grid. This lasts for quite a few months. Although the lower temps in winter help make the panels more efficient, they are hampered by sun angle, mostly cloudy days and occasional snow loads that last for at least a couple days during the larger storms and late into the day on normal snow days until the sun melts it enough to slide off. Then you have this danger of sliding snow. Guy I work with was almost buried while shoveling his walk. Now what happens when you need to replace your roof shingles? If you’re lucky, they come due about the same time you could update the panels and start over with paying for a new set of panels…


Except that a proper solar install will also include power storage for use when the sun isn’t out. If you have multiple cloudy days in a row, the batteries will deplete and you’ll start using power, but just charging the car overnight can be handled by the battery bank.

On the occasions when you do have to pull power from the grid, remember that at other times you’re putting power back on the grid, so really all you’re doing is temporarily slowing down your rate of return.

Of course, all this assumes you have a south-facing (in the US) roof, and you’re not in the forest or blocked by a mountain. :wink: Solar doesn’t work for everyone, but it could be working for a lot more people than it currently is.

As far as replacing your roof shingles, if you need to do it before the panels need replacement (which you shouldn’t unless you decide to install panels on a roof that’s near end-of-life), it’ll add $500 to $1,000 to the cost of re-doing the roof to have the panels removed and replaced. You aren’t buying new panels, and none of the electrical stuff needs to be touched, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Plus, most roofs should last the life of the panels unless you get a hail storm (which is more likely to damage asphalt shingles than the panels), and if you get a hail storm the insurance company will cover the cost of roof replacement anyway.


If you’re hooked up to the grid, and there is some kind of purchase agreement with the grid, then batteries are a waste of money, just sell it to the grid when not needed, buy from the grid when needed.


Have you looked at how much additional that costs? And do you know how much room you need for the batteries? That would be great if I lived in a cabin and subsistence living with a couple of LED lights. My home would run those batteries down by dawn with heat and A/C demands alone, not to mention hot water and other ancillary demands…

$500 to have those guys come out and completely remove the panels from the roof, lower them to the ground, stack them and then return again to re-install them? Not anywhere I have ever lived. The labor alone is going to be way more than that, not inconsequential…


Around here - any excess electricity your solar panels generate is sold back to the grid. Usually at a higher rate (peak usage) then at night. So you charge the car at night, but it’s a net wash because of the electricity you sold during the day. When not at home…not much electricity is being used.



Yep, aware of that Mike. Have a couple of co-workers with panels; one in MA, one in NH. Neither one comes out ahead, they still pay money for electricity in the end. They do have lower energy bills due to the solar and the fact they are both extremely focused on not using energy to begin with- to the point of being inconvenienced and uncomfortable in the process. And neither one is charging a car at night…


One of the principle owners of the company I work for built a beautiful Timber Frame home in Southern NH near the coast. These homes are very energy efficient, plus the house has a large area for solar panels and faces the south. During summer months the solar panels produce more power during the day then what is consumed at night (even with the AC on).


Nothing. The $35,000 I talked about includes a battery bank. If you just get the solar panels and don’t do the batteries, it often drops below $20,000, and that’s before incentives kick in.

The batteries go in the basement. I and many others have lots of space down there that isn’t used for anything but spiderwebs. And we’re not talking about sticking a car battery down there and hoping for the best. :wink: You generally size it to how much power you use. So, you mentioned heat which means you probably have an electric furnace. You’d factor that in. I have gas appliances, so I could get away with a smaller battery bank than you.

And for roof replacement, you’re talking about unbolting some panels and putting them on the ground. I paid $2,000 for a gutter install. That included materials and a full day’s labor for a 4-person crew, plus follow-up work the next day. Removing and replacing a few solar panels would take half a day each, without that many people on the crew, and you don’t have to buy any materials.

And I did say $500-$1,000, and I also said insurance will pay for it unless you did something dumb and installed new panels on a roof that was close to its replacement date, because the only reason you’d ever have to replace a properly-installed, new roof while the panels were still viable is if it got damaged.

That’s also, just as an aside, not taking into account the interesting development in solar pass-through shingles, where the shingles are the solar panels. I didn’t talk about that before because it’s not ready for prime time yet, but it’s coming.


Well, there’s lots of people around here that don’t have basements because the cost of blasting granite and bedrock can be prohibitive. Same reason gas lines can be tough to install. I happen to have about 1200 sq ft of basement and use it entirely. I wouldn’t want to section off a large enough area to house the storage cells. Yes, I know what they look like and their size.

Actually, my home has three complete HVAC systems; two propane furnaces and one fuel oil. I run some electric baseboards in areas where I do not want to keep fully heated at all times.

Yeah, around here they bring in cranes for everything. Nobody does anything like this manually. My roof is 3+ stories off the ground and a NE pitch to boot. Plus labor cost varies dramatically. Used to live in midwest and had roof replaced for $1200. Came out east and had roof on garage replaced for $5k one year later.

I like the idea of integrated capability. Heated shingles would be good idea around here for ice dams. With the emphasis on heat retention and efficiency, snow stays on roof for a long time. The only reason it melts off panels is the ability to absorb sun energy being disconnected from mass of roof itself and smoothness of panels. Make a shingle panel and it will need to have similar properties.


Sounds nice Mike! I think everyone should own a log home at some point in their lives. My last home was a contemporary log home and while it was beautiful, it took a lot more care and upkeep than a stick built home. And you better plan out exactly what you want before it gets built because making changes is very difficult once it’s up. Just try and run a new electric or plumbing line. I would never own one again. But I love the look and can attest to the energy efficiency. Took forever for it to change temp- had unbelievable hysteresis. Worked out good most of the time but no so good if you were away and dialed things back…


It was a timber-frame home…huge difference. You can build a very efficient stick build home. Just that most builders build to code and never exceed code. Insulation standards have changed over the years…but IMHO they are still too low.

Snow doesn’t stay on metal roofs for long. And they do have solar shingles, but too expensive right now.

The point I’m making is if you design t he solar panels into building a home it can very easily be achieved. If I was to build a new home today I definitely would do it. When I built my house 2+ years ago - solar panels were too costly.


Even at 14 to 16 cents a KWH for electricity my electric bill is only about $900 a year.My natural gas bill slightly lower than that. My house is a cape cod , 26x30 with a 14x24 ft addition. Solar City’s estimator gave me a price of $65000 , and told me I would save $12000 after 30 years. That $12000 only came about because of a $16000 subsidy from the government. In other words, my electric bill would have actually cost me more than if I had not put in the solar by $4000.

Their figures are deeply flawed also, they include a 2% rise in the cost of electricity each year and no adjustment for inflation over 30 years when the money you are getting back will be worth so much less than the money you paid all those years ago.
If I took out $65000 and put it in 10 year treasury bonds every 10 years it would pay for my electricity and I would still have my $65000. I also would not have to worry about the panels losing efficiency or being damaged by rainstorms, lightning, snow loads or things damaged by the straight line 70 mph winds we get. I also would not have to cut down my large shade trees directly south of my house.

After giving me those figures 2 years ago, Tesla announced just over a week ago that they were going to START reliability testing soon “Because this is a very complicated product” and had yet to work out all the installation details. Wow, really fill you with confidence, right?


A typical case of “over promise” and “under deliver”. The local utility her is peddling instant (tankless) water heaters, which cost 2.5 times to install than a regular water heater. The payback based on their savings claim is 25 years at current rates. Water heaters seldom last more than 10 years here, so the economics really stink.

I teach courses in Life Cycle Costing and we use an excellent text by Park, Porteous, Sadler and Ming called “Contemporary Engineering Economics” It teaches you ta take all factors into consideration, cost of capital, fuel, real depreciation based on wear out, maintenance and repairs, and any tax factors.

None of the stuff peddled by utilities meets the payback criteria if you use this text.


Well , you are not really comparing apples and oranges here. Tankless water heaters have a much longer life span than traditional tank type . The tankless are also repairable at a fairly high degree. After having one I would not have any thing else . Also the small electrical ones that fit under a kitchen sink also are a good investment.


I don’t disagree with any of your reasons for not installing solar on your house. But the argument of “this doesn’t work for me and therefore it’s wrong for everybody” never manages to sway me.

There are a lot of people who pay higher rates than you do, and who live in places with enough sunlight that solar makes economic sense.

There’s also the aspect that, even if it doesn’t save you any money (which it will for many) it is in many cases the right thing to do. Yes, many of us here will be dead before the really bad results of our overconsumption come about, but our kids and grandkids won’t, and we do owe the generations that we produced some reasonable amount of stewardship of the planet we’re leaving them.

But even if that doesn’t sway you, the overall economic picture should. Especially if you take the environmental impact report released last Friday, produced by an administration that desperately wants it to be untrue, which predicts we’re going to be in a world of economic hurt as a result of our overuse of carbon-based fuels. So yes, if you put $65,000 into T-bonds you might be able to pay your light bill and keep the $65,000. For now. Once the economy crashes because farms and fisheries collapse and insurance companies no longer cover storm damage because it happens so frequently, how long do you think you’d hold on to that 65 grand before you have to spend it to eat, or fix your house?

Again, you’ll most likely be dead by the time those things happen (2050 and beyond). But I might not be. My younger relatives almost certainly won’t be. My 8 year old nephew is going to have to suffer from the impacts of what our generations did, and that’s wrong.

I like cars as much as the next guy, but if we don’t figure out a way to power them responsibly… Wait, we’ve already figured out how to do it, we just aren’t doing it, and that’s even worse. We know how to generate clean power. We know how to make electric cars. Combine the two and you go a long way toward stopping the continually escalating damage we’re doing to the planet. We’re currently using around 391 million gallons of gas per day in this country (source: US Energy Information Administration). Picture how much that would drop if we just replaced commuter cars with electrics.

All it requires is societal responsibility, and it baffles me that responsibility is in such short supply.


That’s why I started my first post mentioning it’s not such a great deal around these parts- meaning my specific situation. The way I read oldtimer_11’s post was just citing his own experience for his particular situation. I didn’t get the idea he was saying it doesn’t make sense elsewhere. I wish it was a better option for me because I would be on the band wagon pretty quick. My electric bills are painful to say the least…and I agree wholeheartedly with your position on stewardship. I took a beating on here when I took a stance on traditional oil change intervals having adverse environmental impact… :slight_smile: