Electric Vehicle FAQ

The decision to buy or lease an electric vehicle can require a lot of research. We’ve gathered some of our most received questions to help you get started on your journey to energy efficiency and independence.

Here’s what you need to know about electric vehicles.

General Electric Vehicle (EV) FAQs

What is an electric vehicle?

An electric vehicle is any vehicle that drives with electricity as its main power source. All-electric vehicles or battery electric vehicles (BEVs) drive using energy from a plug-in source.

What is a hybrid vehicle?

A hybrid (sometimes referred to as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) uses both electricity and gasoline as power sources. These vehicles will typically draw their power from electric sources first, then switch to operating on gasoline when the battery is depleted.

Extended-range electric vehicles are a hybrid vehicle featuring an on-board engine that recharges the electric battery when it runs out. The gasoline engine is only utilized when it needs to charge the battery and isn’t a direct source of power for the car.

What is a fuel-cell car?

Fuel cell cars get their energy by creating an electrochemical reaction in hydrogen, which creates the electricity necessary to run a vehicle. The main byproduct of this process is water, making fuel-cells one of the cleanest cars on the market.

Though some major manufacturers (such as Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda) have released fuel cell cars to the public, widespread use of these vehicles is a long way away—mainly because there isn’t a national infrastructure to support hydrogen production and distribution.

What kind of hybrid/electric cars are on the market?

There are many kinds of electric vehicles on the market today—from sedans and hatchbacks to trucks, SUVs, and luxury vehicles. Check out the Consumer Reports buying guide to learn more about the different models available.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Plug-in hybrids can charge their smaller batteries in approximately 2 hours with the use of a Level 2 charger (240-volt, 32-amp). On the same charger, your all-electric vehicle would take 9-13 hours to charge to capacity. A fully charged EV that can travel up to 200 miles won’t need to be recharged every night, and some public chargers feature higher charging rates that can cut charging times down to 30-45 minutes.

Charging time varies based on your car’s battery size and the amperage of your charging system, but typically a vehicle can charge overnight and be ready for you to drive the next morning.

Does fast charging ruin my battery?

Currently, there’s little evidence to suggest that using DC Fast Charge will cause excessive damage to your battery. While using DC Fast Charge is more taxing on a vehicle’s battery than using level 1 or level 2 charging stations, if used in moderation, you likely won’t see negative side effects.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

According to a 2018 study, the average cost to operate an electric vehicle was $485/year.

Are hybrid cars zero emissions?

Hybrid cars produce zero tailpipe emissions while operating on the electric battery; however, they can produce something called ‘evaporative emissions’—though any emissions will be lower than that of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE).

Can I jump start another car?

It’s not recommended to use your car’s battery to jump start another car as an electric vehicle’s battery is low-voltage. Your owner’s manual should provide more information on this for your specific model.

Is it safe to charge my car in the rain?

Yes! Charging is considered to be safer than pumping gas, and charging stations are designed for safe use in all weather conditions.

Where do I charge my electric car in public?

There are many ways to find public charging stations for use while you’re traveling. You can look up chargers using the Department of Energy’s online tool or plan your trip ahead of time using PlugShare.

Electric Vehicles and Solar Energy

Can you power an electric car with solar panels?

Yes. Even a small solar installation with approximately ten panels can charge the battery of your vehicle.

How much money does charging my electric car with solar energy save?

If you know the EPA’s fuel rating for your vehicle, you can use some simple math to figure out how much extra energy you need to charge your car.

EX. As an example, we’ll use the 2014 Nissan Leaf, which requires 30 kWh of electricity to drive 100 miles. Using the combined fuel economy rating of your vehicle, determine the number of miles you drive on an average day, then divide that number by the fuel economy rating. Let’s say you drive 25 miles daily.

  1. 100 miles / 25 miles = 4

Then apply that math to the kWh, which should look like this:

  1. 30 kWh / 4 = 7.5 kWh of electricity per day

Finally, apply that formula back to your annual formula to get the yearly amount of energy you’ll need for your vehicle.

  1. 7.5 daily energy use x 365 days = 2,373.5 kWh electricity/year

Using this formula, we can learn that we’ll need approximately 2,400 kWh of electricity to power our Nissan Leaf each year.

Why aren’t solar panels installed on electric cars?

There are a few reasons that solar panels haven’t been directly installed on electric vehicles.

  1. It’s unlikely there would ever be enough space on a car roof to install the number of panels necessary to recharge your vehicle’s battery.
  2. Adding solar panels to cars would likely reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamics, which would lower the vehicle’s overall efficiency.


Rebates are a great way to get some money back from the government and other organizations to help subsidize the cost of a new electric vehicle.

What are the current electric car rebates in California?

There are many rebates available for electric vehicle owners in California.

  • Clean Vehicle Rebate: The Clean Vehicle Rebate grants California residents “up to $7,000 for the purchase or lease of a new, eligible zero-emission or plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicle.” The available funds will be rewarded on an application basis. The application is required within three months of purchase or lease of an eligible vehicle.
  • Clean Fuel Reward Program: This program offers up to $1,500 off the purchase or lease of an eligible new all-electric or hybrid vehicle. View the eligible vehicles here to get started!

These are only two of the many programs available to current or prospective electric vehicle owners. You can view a full list of all federal and state-level grants and incentives on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

HES Solar has over a decade of experience helping home and business owners gain energy independence. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you decrease your carbon footprint and provide renewable energy and energy storage solutions for your home or business. Contact us online or by phone at today!