Home solar and electric cars are converging, and it’s about time

Electric cars and home solar complement each other, and a new alliance between solar-energy provider SunPower and charging-equipment maker Wallbox aims to make the most of that.

With this alliance, SunPower customers can opt to install a Wallbox home charging station at the same time as their home solar and/or energy-storage system installation, the two companies announced Thursday in a press release. It's a step toward making EVs part of smart-home energy storage.

SunPower will also act as the preferred charger-installation provider for Wallbox, as well as the preferred provider for solar and home energy storage, further encouraging customers to consider home solar and charging installations as a package deal.

Wallbox Quasar, for bi-directional DC charging

Wallbox Quasar, for bi-directional DC charging

SunPower plans to begin installing home charging stations for new customers in Southern California this fall, and expects to add more markets later in 2021.

The two companies are also "exploring options for developing products and experiences to further integrate solar power with EV," including backup power systems, and integration of Wallbox's bi-directional charging tech with SunPower systems.

Wallbox offers a unit called Quasar that allows bi-directional charging but is initially only compatible with the Nissan Leaf and its CHAdeMO interface. As a backup energy-storage device, the Leaf would offer several times the capacity of a Tesla Powerwall energy-storage system.

Wallbox Quasar, for bi-directional DC charging

Wallbox Quasar, for bi-directional DC charging

Although Tesla still doesn't offer bi-directional charging, the California EV maker Lucid has said that its cars will have the tech from the start.

Charging an electric car with home solar reduces overall emissions, since all electricity is coming from a clean, renewable source. It could also lower owners' electricity costs—after the solar installation itself is amortized, that is.

In addition, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which uses bi-directional charging to link EVs to the grid, could be a tremendous asset for grid balancing, a California study found.

Ford is also readying a series of solar and smart energy products to go with its F-150 Lightning electric truck and other upcoming EVs.

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