Solar Powered Volt

Way back in 2003 we bought the first model of hybrid Honda Civic sold in the US. It was the only car we would ever buy that was featured in a car show! It was a 2003 model but it was available in summer of 2002 which is when we bought it. I actually wanted a Prius but the sales guy in Tempe, AZ didn’t want to sell me one. He insisted that no shop would know how to work on them and told us it didn’t qualify for the energy saving car rebates available in Arizona at the time. (Which turned out to be a political scam by a representative who owned a propane conversion shop.) So I went to the Honda dealer and they were happy to sell me the hybrid car! We loved the new technology.

Honda power plant

Honda hybrid power plant-red band is the electric motor

It was only electric assist and the batteries were completely charged by the engine and the breaking action. No plug. It would be years before plug in hybrids were available.We sold the car when we moved to Colorado with well over 100,000 miles on it.

Our kids beat us to the punch buying a plug in hybrid Volt in 2014. Theirs is also this pearlized white color with the black interior.

Chev Volt 2014 with remote

Chev Volt 2014 with remote

This car has two electric motors and its EV range is higher than other plug in hybrids. But it is difficult to see what is under the hood with a large internal cover over the “works”.

Chev Volt 2014 engine

Chev Volt 2014 engine

Now that they went to Germany we purchased the car from them and I’ve been having a lovely time learning how to use its gadgets. I had to sign up for On Star to get access to some of the wifi features. Apparently these continue even after the free period for the other services. I also signed up for a free period for SiriusXM. It includes some navigation features I believe.

The app is called eChevrolet. I opened an account and registered our Volt. Once the On Star was turned on, the app made more sense having information about charging and other monitoring details. The app tells if the car is charging and the approximate time that the charge will be complete. It tells us that we need an oil change and that one tire is low. The tire seems to have a slow leak but Dave couldn’t find it.

EChevrolet Car Status

EChevrolet Car Status

Tire pressure and oil change indicator

Tire pressure and oil change indicator

When charging during the day, the house electricity use goes up about 1Kwh. It takes about 12 to 13 hours for a full charge. I drove it once past the 43 mile solar capacity and the switch over to engine power is seamless. The battery continues to assist when it is charged a bit by slowing down or braking. This is called series hybrid when the engine takes over, and parallel hybrid when the engine and batteries operate together.

The solar power that the car takes while charging would normally go to the grid or to the power wall battery. I don’t mind taking from the grid to charge the car. But it seems that to use the solar most efficiently we need to be able to charge it more quickly while the sun is at its peak. So I bought a Level 2, 220 volt, Juice Box 40 Pro with wifi and I’m installing it.

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