DAVIS, Calif. — As more homeowners generate their own electricity from solar panels, they still need power from a utility after the sun goes down. Now, automakers say they can help store solar energy for homes, by storing that carbon-free energy in electric car batteries for later use. Honda on Tuesday is introducing an experimental house in this environmentally conscious community to showcase technologies that allow the dwelling to generate more electricity than it consumes. It is one example of the way solar companies and carmakers are convergin
g on a common goal: to create the self-sufficient home, with a car’s battery as the linchpin.
With buildings and transportation accounting for 44 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, car companies increasingly view all-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell cars as vehicles that will meet environmental mandates and lead to development of new energy services and products beyond the garage.
Ford, Tesla Motors and Toyota are pursuing strategies similar to that.
“It’s a new world in terms of vehicles operating not as isolated artifacts but as being part of a larger energy system, and I think the greatest opportunity for automakers is figuring out how their vehicles become part of that system,” said Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, which provided the building site and the heating and lighting technology for the Honda Smart Home.
The heart of Honda’s 1,944-square-foot home is a room off the spotless garage that contains a 10 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack housed in a black box. The battery is a smaller version of the one that powers the all-electric Honda Fit parked nearby.
Next to the battery pack sits a bigger white box called the Home Energy Management System. It is the brains of the house, deciding when to tap renewable electricity generated by a 9.5-kilowatt solar panel array installed on the home’s roof to charge the car’s battery or store the solar energy.
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