If one of the defining characteristics of a power couple is being well-connected, then SolarCity customers embracing the EV+PV (electric vehicles and solar photovoltaic) lifestyle are rubbing elbows with a very powerful pair.
“We have more WiFi hotspots than an Apple store, a smart thermostat from Nest and a backup power supply system on order from SolarCity,” says Colin Summers, who owns two electric cars and powers his Santa Monica, California home with clean electricity from the sun.
Summers is among a growing number of Americans making clean energy purchases for their homes and using their electronic devices (smart phones, laptops, etc.) to automate their green lifestyle: checking their solar production, charging their cars, controlling their thermostats and even managing their energy consumption. It’s such a rising trend that Forbes recently coined it the “Energy Playlist”, in reference to the rise of rooftop solar, electric cars and smart thermostats among homeowners. SolarCity customers say they do it for the convenience, to save money and sometimes just for fun.
Colin Summers’ son, Rudy, helps the family stay connected with their plug-in hybrid electric
Chevy Volt, SolarCity system monitoring device,and Nest smart thermostat.
We installed an 8.4-kilowatt solar system on the Summers’ home in 2007. Summers likes to check how much electricity his panels are generating through our energy monitoring service, which is available online and as a smart phone app.
“It’s fun to see the output graph climb in August with the summer sun,” he says.
Summers is an EV app-reciator, too. “My wife has been driving electric for over 15 years. Currently we have a Toyota Rav4 EV and a Chevy Volt, and we’re able to check their state of charge from our phone. We’ve also programmed them, through the cars’ onboard computer, to start charging at midnight when power is cheapest.”
Even when Summers charges his EVs at night, his electricity costs are offset by the solar energy his home puts back into the grid during the day, which he receives credit for from his utility company through a policy called Net Metering. To see how much you could save by embracing the EV+PV lifestyle, check out our total energy costs calculator.
Derek Hydon’s connected homes in Pacific Palisades and Palm Springs with an electric car, solar panels and a
SolarCity battery storage system that uses technology engineered by Tesla.
Derek Hydon, who has a Tesla Model S and SolarCity systems on his Palm Springs and Pacific Palisades homes, uses PowerGuide® - a tool that measures home electricity consumption and solar energy production – to better understand and make smarter choices about his family’s energy consumption patterns. Hydon checked it on a recent East Coast trip to find that his electricity consumption in Palm Springs had been unusually high, which seemed odd since no one was at home.
The solution? He checked the automated system that controls his home air conditioning and lighting to find that, somehow, lights had been left on. He remotely turned them off, and just like that, no more wasted money or electricity.
With a clear picture of his family’s usage patterns and recommendations from SolarCity,
Hydon can better manage his home energy usage patterns and save money.
Hydon also has a mobile phone app for his Tesla Model S. He occasionally uses it to find his electric car in the depths of a giant parking structure (“it makes the lights flash and horn honk”), but more often to cool the car’s interior.
“I’ll turn on the air conditioning two or three minutes before getting into the car, then it’s just the perfect temperature when I’m ready to drive,” he says. “It’s really fun showing people the app, it proves that the car of tomorrow is here now. For most people it’s like, ‘really, you can do that?’“
These well-connected customers are an indication that the car and the home of the future are closer than we think. And this has major implications for a smarter, cleaner and – well – cooler future. Our CEO Lyndon Rive said it best in his interview on CBS earlier this week: “With the two (electric cars and solar homes) combined, we can start living a carbon-free lifestyle without sacrifice.”