San Diego Airport Runs Test on Portable Solar-Paneled EV Charging

By · November 12, 2013

Chevy Volt charging at portable station at San Diego airport

San Diego was the first city to install the SAE combo EV charger, and now the city’s airport is trying out another innovative charging station. For two weeks beginning on Nov. 12, EV drivers passing through the San Diego International Airport will be able to try out an EV ARC standalone solar charging station.

The EV ARC, invented and produced by Envision Solar International Inc. of San Diego, fits inside a standard parking space and requires no trenching or wiring. It uses solar panels to recharge the battery.

“We just show up, put the thing down, and turn it on,” Envision CEO Desmond Wheatley told

Direct from Sun to Car

The charging station generates approximately 16 kilowatt-hours per day—stored in a 22-kWh battery. The airport charger has one Level 2 240V plug. Instead of the 240V plug, the EV ARC can also support four 120V plugs. That is a good option for workplace charging, said Wheatley.

Figuring out the best placement for charging stations is a big job for cities, companies, and multi-unit dwellings. The EV ARC eliminates that dilemma because it can easily be moved to different locations, said Wheatley. “We need to have a flexible infrastructure,” he said.

Chevy Volt charging at portable station at San Diego airport />

The EV ARC at the San Diego International Airport is located in the Cell Phone Lot, where people picking up passengers can park for one hour for free while they wait for a call from the person they are picking up. Now, people with a plug-in electric vehicle can also top off their battery, said Wheatley.

EV drivers can use the charger in one-hour increments. The Cell Phone Lot is already policed by the airport to prevent people from staying there more than the allotted hour; the same police can make sure the charging time privilege is not abused, said Wheatley.

This is the first such trial for the EV ARC, which was launched last month. Envision, founded in 2006, also sells solar tree arrays and other related products. The EV ARC, which is manufactured in the U.S., currently costs $40,000 before incentives. Envision has sold one to a city “west of the Rockies” and one to a country in South American, said Wheatley.

Evaluating Demand

The main benefit Envision hopes to gain from the two-week trial at the San Diego Airport is publicity, said Wheatley. “We are already happy with this product,” he said. “The thing is, no one else knows about it. The most important thing for us is to get the word out.”

The San Diego Airport Authority wants to see how much demand there is for such a product. “Sustainability is very important to us and electric vehicle charging at the airport is becoming more common,” said David Boenitz, Director of Ground Transportation for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “We’re pleased to offer Envision Solar the space to conduct the trial and are looking forward to seeing the data generated by the EV ARC’s test-deployment in our Cell Phone Lot. Doing so will help us learn more about how airport customers value access to such a platform.”

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.