Why I will never buy an electric car


Living IN the sunshine state and paying FPL 11.2 cents a kW-hr for electricity, my yearly electric bill is $2100. I’ve had solar companies give me estimates for my home with a net-metered system they claim will meet 100% of my power needs (my calculations say, No, 85% at best). The cost is $20,00 to $29,000 without incentives and NO power storage. Power storage with Li-Ion battery packs (the only reasonable solution) would almost double the cost to about $45,000. Florida is a great pace to install solar but we don’t have basements to store the batteries. They’d have to go in a shed outside the house.

Considering the $2100 I pay for power now, even a $20,000 install is a push to replace only $1785 worth of FPL electricity. The payback with no interest exceeds 11 years. When you figure in the cost of money, the degradation of the panels and the increased cost of insurance (a hidden little secret!) there is no payback. Forget storage, that pushes it totally out of line. If I used an electric car to commute (I am retired), as @TwinTurbo pointed out, I’d be pulling off the grid or storage to recharge it. And it is HOT here in the summer at night so I’d be competing with home AC for power.

The cost of a grid-tie system is within reach and I will very likely install panels when my roof gets replaced to minimize the costs. Maybe that will free up some kW-hrs for electric car owners.


That price is absurd. I’ve looked into solar about 15 years ago when solar panels were very expensive because my house is a perfect location. I have the main house roof, also a garage roof, plus a family room roof. The number of solar panels they estimated for me is probably double the panels you have on your house and the cost 15 years ago was less then half that $65,000 price. We pay about 17cents a kilowatt hour. But the efficiency of the solar panels 15 years ago would have yielded a payback of close to 30 years. We will be retired and downsize by then. In the past 15 years solar panels prices have dropped in half and they easily doubled their efficiency.

If I were you, I’d get another quote.


Glad to hear you made it work. Tankless water heaters sold here cost $2500 plus installation and so far there have been many failures’ The water is also very hard here.

Our total gas bill for the year (furnace and water heater) is about $1000, of which about 10% is for hot water. So $100+per year is our water heating bill. The tankless ones are sold as saving 50% which would be $50 per year.

The installed cost difference between a regular and a tankless one is about $1200. At an annual savings of $50 per year, the simple (excluding interest ) payback time would be $1200/50=24 years!!!

I know tankless water heaters are very popular in Europe, but the economics there are vastly different.


Where are you getting your prices because other than needing larger vent pipes in an existing home the price here is no where that high.


Same here. Tankless water heaters as high as $1500 for a 4 bedroom house. Add $200 (MAX) for installation.

I have an indirect fire water tank. It’s basically is a zone off the boiler. These are more efficient then the conventional water heater, but less efficient then the tankless - Unless you have a teenage son who determines he’s done with his shower when he runs out of hot water. With a tankless he might never get out of there.


Now that we’ve gone from Car Talk to water heater talk and solar panel talk, I’ll add my observations. We pay a couple hundred a month for power and gas which varies with the season. I replaced my tank water heater in 2012 and I always shut the thing down except for the pilot when we leave for a week or two. What I have noticed is that after sitting for two weeks with just the pilot on, I have hot water right away when I return. Must be fairly energy efficient if it stays hot for two weeks just sitting there. All those folks in Europe with their solar heaters on the roof would be impressed. Water heaters here don’t last as long because of the high water pressure but I have no interest in a tankless unit.

Going through my dad’s papers before going to the shredder a couple months ago, I ran across an investment he made about 30 years ago in solar panels. I remember he had great hopes and they’d be popping up everywhere. He might as well have thrown the money in the lake 'cause he never made a cent on it. They went belly up some years later never to be heard from again. I know of one family here that installed panels and figured they’d get their money back in maybe ten years or so but only because of the tax credits and money from the power company. I don’t know how its going for them but I haven’t heard of anyone else putting panels on their roof. Just hasn’t caught on and I’m not an early adopter. Of course my cousin in Colorado did the whole thing for his cabin in the mountains because there was no other way to get power to it, and he’s an engineer. So all you green guys go ahead and I’ll just wait a little bit for it to become proven and popular.

Back to Car Talk, how do you change oil in an electric car anyway? What would I do with no oil to change?


Spend more time on the forum ?


Yeah but they won’t let me. I get flagged and close to being banned. I’m looking for a good woodworking site again and maybe a site where people like cars and mechanical stuff like maybe even welding. I just don’t want to go to any more concerts. My doctor retired and he’s fixing violins now so maybe that’s something to look into.


Nobody’s talking about banning you, so feel free to stick around.

But you make a good point. Today’s comments in this thread have pretty much left behind cars for houses. Can you all please bring it back on topic? Thanks.


I was just being a smart alack. It’s all in fun but some don’t take it that way. In 4th grade I lost a lot of recess and lunch periods writing on the black board 500 times that I would quit smarting off. It didn’t work. At night though my sister helped me and forged my hand writing to help complete my sentence (pun intended). I’ve been endeared to her ever since. I guess she understood.

Speaking of her and cars though, we had a 58 Chevy wagon manual and 6 cyl. and she was learning to drive. We were on a hilly and curvy road in Wisconsin and she was at the wheel. My dad was a little nervous and she was going a little too fast. So he kept saying “go faster, go faster”, which she did and we just whipped around those curves. Finally he realized he meant to say “go slower”, before we were all killed in rural Wisconsin. I still don’t like riding with her, but she did help me out like a trooper.


How about-
Don’t, stop!
Don’t stop!

I had an RV I wanted to install solar panels and a water heater but it was a tankless job so no one wanted to do it…


I am, according some people, an old geezer. I am almost 77. Yes, I would consider a battery powered car. As the roof on my house nears the end of its useful life, I will investigate solar panels to see if the panels are feasible for my house.
Some years back, I thought about buying a used Citicar–a battery powered car that came about during the oil crisis. I wanted to see what it would be like to have such a car. The Citicar was too crude even for my simplistic life style. I have considered buying a Nissan Leaf for around town use, but I can’t justify a third vehicle.
I did purchase a Black and Decker battery mower from a friend as an experiment. The results haven’t been entirely satisfactory. I liked the quiet operation of the mower and not having to make trips to the gas station for two gallons of gasoline. On the other hand, at the beginning of the second season, I had to replace the batteries at a cost of $68. This battery set only.lasted two seasons. I replaced the batteries at the beginning of this past season. I mowed less than 5 minutes and the mower stopped. I can make the motor run by connecting it directly to the the battery and bypassing the control board. Many of the parts for the mower are no longer available. I may bypass the control board with a 20 amp toggle switch.
My gasoline mower has an engine that smokes profusely and burns oil. I got through this season, but will probably buy a new mower next spring. I think I will buy a battery powered mower. The new battery mowers have a lithium ion battery as opposed to the sealed lead acid batteries in my Black and Decker. I am sure this is an improvement.
I had a Ryobi battery powered string trimmer that Mrs. Triedaq bought for me at least 10 years ago.
I’ve replaced the lead/acid battery a couple of times. This past spring, it was due for a new battery. A replacement battery was $70, but a new Worx string trimmer with a lithium ion battery was less than $100 at Walmart. I bought a new string trimmer. While the Ryobi trimmer was a big improvement over a corded trimmer, the Worx trimmer is much easier to use than the old Ryobi trimmer.
I remember when I was in college in late 1950s through the early 1960s, we used to debate whether transistors would replace vacuum tubes in radios and televisions. You can’t even buy a vacuum tube CRT television set. I remember discussing whether desktop computers would be able to perform the tasks we did from a terminal connected to mainframe. Even having a dumb terminal and interfacing interactively with the mainframe beat punching cards.
Just yesterday I was part of a memorial service for a friend I have known since 4th grade. Two yesrs ago, my friend and I converted the light fixtures at our church from four foot T 12 flourescent tubes to LED tubes. We removed the ballast coils, rewired the fixtures and installed the LED bulbs. I haven’t had to be up on a ladder to change flourescent tubes or ballast coils since that time.
I welcome new technology. I hope to live long enough to be able to see the battery powered cars in common use.


The price came from Solar City (a Tesla Company). they have a huge plant in Buffalo. the State of NY paid 750 million dollars for and then GAVE it, absolutely free of charge to Solar city. One can only imagine what the quote would have been if they had to pay for their plant like everyone else. This product does not go on your roof. Your roof shingles come off and it becomes your roof. They estimated I would need 80% active solar panels and 20 dummy ones. They only install it with a battery wall, $8500 of the price is the battery wall.

At my age, I would not consider any solar installation and I will not cut down my shade trees. I was just curious about price and payback and what I found out disgusted me.

As long as we are talking about global warming and doing right for the planet, my personal opinion is that it is far too late. No one has the power to do it. We don’t have a one world government. Most of it comes from an increasing number of people on the planet.

We have no way to stop Brazilians from destroying the rain forest, or all the third world countries from trying to industrialize to our standard of living. More people means more energy use and what are we going to do with all the extra heat? I know what we will do, we will crank up the a/c and use more energy and create more heat.


You went to the bleeding edge and then got upset that they charge bleeding edge prices?

We’ve been talking about standard solar panels, not solar pass-through shingles. That’s a very interesting technology (if for no other reason than my very visually-oriented neighbor won’t kill me for putting big blue panels on my roof :wink: ) but as mentioned above, it’s not ready for primetime yet.

Interesting you mention other countries. China is putting a lot of resources (far more than we are) into cultivating green power generation. And Tesla makes billions per year selling their cars in China, and that’s just one company.

Not to mention that the rest of the first-world signed on to the Paris climate accords, and we decided to un-sign it because… Well because we wanted to. There wasn’t even a good reason for it.

The US is lagging behind in many areas, and clean energy, which includes to a significant degree cars with the potential to use clean-sourced fuel, is a glaring example.


As I said…get another quote. An engineer I work with has solar panels. So I asked her this morning how much it cost. Before the Massachusetts solar incentive the whole system cost less then $20,000. After the incentive it was less then $15,000. Total savings for her is over $100/mo. Payback will be in about 12 years if electric prices stay the same…more and likely they’ll rise, so her payback will be less.

The $65,000 price you were quoted is obscenely over priced. As I said - get another quoted.

In 2 years I plan to retire to a warmer golf friendly area. We plan on building a smaller home (1500 sq/ft). I’ll re-examine solar again, but at my age it still may not be worth it. The payback years may exceed my life expectancy. If I was in my 50’s or younger - I’d jump at it. But when I was in my 50’s the price was too high. Now with California’s new law (all new homes will be built with solar panels) - we may see a good decrease in Panels as more companies start to get into the manufacturing process.

Sure we can. Stop buying the products from that country.

No…most of it comes from waste. There are so many things we can do today that are not too costly. 90% of all homes in the US are under insulated. Less then 90% of homes are using LED lights to cut electricity. There are so many things we can do.


Keep in mind that the $65,000 price he was quoted includes re-roofing because the panels are integrated with the shingles. Having just had the entire exterior of my house replaced thanks to a bad hail storm. I can attest that just installing normal architectural shingles cost me (er… my insurance) $30,000.

So if you subtract 30 grand from his 65 grand quote, it’s still overpriced but not nearly as obscenely.

A normal solar panel install does not include a new roof, so it’s not really fair to highlight the one that does require it as evidence of how overpriced solar is.

If you combine LED with smarthome technology it really helps with energy efficiency. No more leaving the entryway light on all day because you get home after dark. No more accidentally leaving the outdoor lights on. When your teenaged niece roams through the house and forgets how to use light switches the minute she turns lights on, you just call out “turn off all lights except this room” instead of wandering around checking every room in the house.

And it’s nice for working on cars too. I have regular lights in the garage, supplemented by absurdly bright shoplights (all LED, of course). If I’m just driving out, the shop lights stay off. If I’m working, I just tell the system (verbally) to turn on the shop lights.

I also hooked my air compressor to a smart plug, so that instead of inching my way around the summer car (it’s tight over there) every time I want to use air tools, I just call out to the system to turn it on, then pull down the drop-hose in the middle of the garage. Works slick!

Modern tech can be both energy efficient and extremely convenient.


Are you kidding me? Going back to the industrial revolution you’ll find cities/states giving major tax incentives to corporations to move their manufacturing plant there. Those tax incentives more then pay for the manufacturing plant.


Not to argue again but hoopla aside, actually the accord was a joke.

We’re throwing percentages and numbers around like crazy. Every month I get an email from our power company comparing our usage to our “neighbors”. We are always higher than “our most efficient neighbors” but better than overall. I have 6" wall insulation, at least 18" in the ceiling (even in the garage), triple glazed Andersen windows, and I’ve spent at least $2000 for LED lights in the garage, kitchen, and other places used a lot. We’ve also replaced all of our appliances including the washer and dryer within the last year. But the big issue is the HVAC. We replaced the air conditioning and that actually helped substantially in the summer, but until the 90% efficient furnace is replaced again, we’ll never be the most efficient.

Maybe 90% of the homes are under-insulated, I don’t know but lots and lots of people have done what they can to save money if for no other reason. If you have a 2x4 framed house there is only so much that can be done like blowing in additional ceiling insulation and maybe new windows. The big savings come from upgrading the housing stock from 50 year old houses to new ones.

Solar panels? I dunno, they only attack one aspect of energy use and really depends on what part of the country you live in. I also would be surprised if some covenants do not allow them. At any rate, I don’t think the world is coming to an end yet and it’s cold and snowing here again, so gotta turn the heat up a little.


There are still millions of people who own their own home that have ZERO insulation. Especially down south. And then there are apartments and the renter pays their own utilities. Many apartments here in MA and NH built before WW-II that have zero insulation. The person renting can’t do anything to improve efficiency. And the owners are very reluctant to do any modifications.


That’s a good first step but unlikely to really stem the practice as just reading the palm oil article shows, some of this is the unintended consequence of certain US policies regarding energy. Make anything lucrative enough and companies will find a way to exploit the environment to make a buck…consequences be d@m@d…