An industry expert explains his reasoning.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused most everyone to rethink how they live their everyday lives. We shop at supermarkets differently, we're not dining at restaurants or drinking at bars, and many of us that are still employed are working from home instead of going to the office. What about how we charge our electric cars?

Douglas Alfaro is the General Manager for Wallbox of North America, a smart-ev charging company based in California. Alfaro has some thoughts on how and where EVs owners should be charging their EVs during the COVID-19 crisis, and wanted to share his reasoning with the InsideEVs community. We offered him the opportunity to do so, and the post below was written and submitted by Alfaro. It's important to note that not everyone has the opportunity to charge at home, as many EV owners live in apartment buildings or multi-family units that don't offer charging facilities. We urge anyone that must use public charging stations to thoroughly clean and disinfect the connector and wherever you touch the station and use disposable gloves while doing so. 

So check out Alfaro's post below, and let us know if you agree with his recommendations, in the comment section. 

With 95 percent of Americans or roughly 316 million citizens under a state or city-mandated shelter-in-place order in May, Americans are looking to do more at home these days rather than risk running against these mandates or exposure to COVID-19. While people are only taking trips out for groceries or other essential activities, most are finding themselves and their cars parked at home. Mirroring this, the demand for public EV charging has decreased by as much as 70 percent in some parts of the world. Given that public chargers and facilities can present health risks at this time, it’s recommended that people with electric vehicles (EVs) charge at home rather than using a public charger. 

While nowhere as dirty as gas pumps, which according to a 2011 Kimberly-Clark Professional study, rank among some of the dirtiest objects one can touch, public EV chargers can still harbor a frightening amount of germs because they are used by a number of individuals and rarely, if ever, cleaned or disinfected. One study showed that public EV chargers can carry as many as 7,890 colony forming units (CFUs) per square inch. To provide a comparison, that’s roughly 46 times more germs than the average toilet seat. 

If that doesn’t give you enough reason to charge at home, here are a few more reasons why charging at home is better for you.

MINI Cooper SE Road Trip
In a recent road trip from New Jersey to the InsideEVs track in North Carolina with a MINI Cooper SE, I made sure that I thoroughly disinfected the DC fast charge stations that I used along the way.

Social distancing 

Obviously, charging at home allows you to socially distance yourself. According to recent studies by the National Institutes of Health and CDC, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can last up to two to three days on plastic or stainless steel surfaces, materials found on many chargers. Charging at home means you can always know your charger has only been touched by members of your household and unlikely to introduce new germs that you haven’t already been exposed to. 

Convenience 

Charging at home is also more convenient. Imagine having your own private fueling station at home, you don't have to drive anywhere or look for an available fueling station. You can treat your car like your mobile phone, it only takes seconds to plug in. Also, unlike at public charging stations, once your car is fully charged, you never have to worry about moving it to make room for others. 

Saves money

When you charge at home, you only have to worry about the cost of the electricity you’re using, which usually is at a lower cost for residential use than at public charging stations. When you charge in public, the most frequently encountered model is pay-as-you-go, which can mean per-minute costs or pricing per charging session and per kWh, not to mention in some instances a public charging idle fee. Often, these fees are set by the site owner or the network owner, meaning it’s challenging to know consistently just how much you’ll be charged. Looking at the prices in the San Francisco Bay area, you are comparing between the cost of charging at home at an average of about 22 cents per kWh with the costs of about 31 cents per kWh at a Tesla Supercharger station or about 41 cents per kWh on the Electrify America network. With lower prices off-peak for charging during the night, you can even save more. 

Easier on the grid

Charging at home is easier on the grid because you don't need to charge as fast or at high power levels and you can even react to the grid if the utility needs more power during a spike. This helps keep the grid stable and can help avoid the often mentioned predictions saying mass EV adoption would create blackouts. Furthermore, with many at-home chargers these days, it’s possible to program your charger to only pull energy during off-peak hours, further reducing the load on the grid and cost of electricity used. 

Hybrid car plugged in and being charged

Better for your car

Charging at home allows you to set the parameters for charging on your own terms and around your own needs. Since most vehicles are parked overnight for hours at a time, you have plenty of time to program a charge for when you actually need it and replenish as necessary on a daily basis so you store only the recommended amount of energy to keep your vehicle’s battery in good health (about 50-80% state of charge). In a recent study, it was determined that frequent DC fast-charging would lead to greater battery degradation over time. By charging at home, you can secure the health of the vehicle’s battery and prolong your vehicle's useful life.

In the wake of the widespread stay-at-home orders, our daily routine will need to adjust to new ways of living, doing business, and traveling. Doing a majority of your charging without leaving the house, while reserving public charging only when absolutely necessary, could help us all adapt to the current situation while securing all the benefits that home charging can bring.

Douglas Alfaro

About Douglas Alfaro

Douglas Alfaro is the General Manager, North America for Wallbox, a smart EV charging company developing intelligent home charging stations and the world's first residential bidirectional charger. He is an electric vehicle (EV), energy, and sustainability expert with more than a decade of experience working for Tesla, NASA, and now Wallbox. He began his career in public policy roles in California, developing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs around smart buildings, e-mobility, and emissions reduction for the San Francisco Bay Area. He then joined Tesla to kick off the first-ever cross country network of fast-charging stations throughout the U.S. and Canada and established both Level 2 and public fast-charging stations across Europe. Doug has a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University along with an Energy Innovations and Emerging Technologies certificate.

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