Mini E – Click above for high-res image gallery

Peder and Julie Nordby, two southern California residents, can proudly announce that both their homes and their beloved Mini E operate "virtually free" of charge. You see, the Nordbys are part of an ever-growing group of people nationwide who have decided to harness the power of the sun. They've installed solar panels on the rooftop of their home to meet their electrical needs and can proudly say that they no longer rely upon the grid for juice.

The solar panels located on their rooftop generate 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. That much power is enough to power the entire home (9,000 kWh) and their Mini E (3,000 kWh). Generating all of the power consumed for their yearly use makes their home and driving needs a zero-energy-from-the-grid experience.

Yes, there is an upfront cost associated with the solar panels and an additional cost for purchasing an EV over a traditional vehicle, but its trivial when put into perspective. For example, the Nordbys figure the cost of equipment needed to power the Mini E comes in at $8,000. A replacement inverter will need to be purchased for $2,000 every ten years, bringing the total to $10,000. If a conventional vehicle is driven 12,000 miles per year at current gas rates, and driven for 10 years, fuel would cost north of $20,000, a difference of $10,000 which should make up the price difference for a EV over a traditional vehicle.

Upfront cost is a significant concern for many buyers. EVs cost more than traditional vehicles, and solar panels are expensive. But what price tag can you put on making your own electricity, eliminating your dependency on foreign oil and breaking away from the electrical grid? Let's not forget to mention, no more blackouts from downed power lines. What's that worth?

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