Solar Charging an Electric Vehicle—on the Road

By Paul Gipe

John Rowell likes to push boundaries. Rowell, the man behind pushed his Nissan Leaf, a mass-market electric vehicle (EV), to the end of Mineral King National Park and had to coast back down to the San Joaquin Valley to regain enough charge to make it home. That’s how I came to know him.

Rowell has stopped by twice to charge his Mitsubishi MiEV. The last time he used a portable DC Fast Charger with our ClipperCreek HSC 40 to charge his car at more than 7 kW. That was something to see.

Now Rowell has sent along a picture of him charging his MiEV with solar photovoltaics (PV). I am sure it’s been done before by others with home solar systems. This was the first time I’ve seen it done with portable panels draped over a car charging in the bright sun of the Sierra Nevadan foothills.

This is the polar opposite of “fast charging.” As Rowell acknowledges, yes it’s “Very slow. But it shows it’s possible to run the car on nothing more than sunshine, even in the middle of nowhere.”

The revolution has well and truly begun.