GE DuraStation Chargers: Great Value, Tough to Procure

JAN 19 2014 BY CLARKSON COTE 28

My employer recently installed 4 GE DuraStation dual pedestal chargers, in conjunction with a building generator project they were undertaking.  These chargers (also available at Lowe’s and Home Depot) are a great alternative for workplace charging when compared to some of the more popular brands out there.

For example, GE DuraStation chargers optionally come with an RFID unit to allow for limited access charging.  GE also has software that tracks all of the electricity usage of each user, and unlike ChargePoint, the software doesn’t come with a yearly use fee in the $200 range.

Let’s also do a quick price comparison for pedestal stations from “the Googles” below:

  • ChargePoint Single Pedestal 30 amp EVSE: $4,814.00 (from Webosolar.com)
  • ChargePoint Dual Pedestal 30 amp EVSE: $6,874.00 (from Webosolar.com)
  • GE Single Pedestal 30 amp EVSE: $2,499.00 (from HomeDepot.com)
  • GE Dual Pedestal 30 amp EVSE: $3,999.00 (from HomeDepot.com)

So the GE DuraStation Dual Pedestal charger is a savings of just under $3,000 compared to the ChargePoint station, and you also have no software fees to contend with yearly.  Not bad if you don’t need credit card processing on the unit.  As a result of these savings, my employer is able to allow workplace charging for employees at a reasonable price point.

When factoring in potential maintenance costs, they’ve arrived at a fee of $0.15 per kWh consumed, which they will easily track with the free GE software.  Had my employer gone with ChargePoint instead, the software fees alone would have pushed the per kWh price much higher, making it cost prohibitive and effectively discouraging adoption.

GE Durastations Recently Installed at my Employer.  LED bar on top indicates EVSE Status.

GE DuraStations recently installed at my employer. LED bar on top indicates EVSE status.

Sounds great right?  Well unfortunately, the GE DuraStation units appear to be hard to obtain information on and procure.  My employer worked through a GE representative to order these 4 units, and had a very hard time obtaining information on the station features.  For example, you cannot easily find online descriptions and examples of their monitoring software for the charging stations, nor can you obtain details on the specifics of the RFID charger.

Other DuraStation information that’s hard to know in advance:  They have a colored LED bar at the top for each charge point on the pedestal, that illuminates green when the charger is working, and red when there is a fault.  This helps you to easily identify a working charger far from the unit itself.  Each side of the charger has its own LED bar, RFID sensor, LCD character screen, and J1772 Cable (30 Amp), allowing for one unit to fully serve 2 independent vehicles.  All of this information is not easy to intuit from the online pictures, and their descriptions of the product (at last viewing) remain vague.

GE Also Sells The Sleek, Compact Wattstation - Complete With Retractable Cord

GE Also Sells The Sleek, Compact Wattstation – Complete With Retractable Cord

If the lack of information wasn’t unfortunate enough, the delivery of the four chargers — originally scheduled for October 2013 — did not fully arrive until January of 2014.  “What does he mean by fully?” you might ask.  Well, 4 dual pedestal chargers were ordered, and they arrived in 4 separate shipments.  While my employer started to wonder if the representative was to blame for the poor service, other suppliers informed my employer that it is GE that is often hard to work with to obtain these products.

In the end, the charging stations look like they will deliver the functionality promised, at a lower price point for the equipment than the competition, and without expensive recurring monitoring software fees.  While they don’t accept credit cards as payment, they are great for employers wanting to enable employees to charge and track the usage (via the RFID model) or for businesses wanting to offer free charging (without an RFID model).  Either way, they’re a powerful alternative to ChargePoint, with a much lower effective price point.

Now, if GE could only expand the available information on the units and work out the inventory logistics, you’d see a lot more of these popping up.

Categories: Charging, General

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

28 Comments on "GE DuraStation Chargers: Great Value, Tough to Procure"

newest oldest most voted

We have the single pedestals at our local Whole Foods for the last 2.5 years. They seem to work fine; though the LCD is comically small for such a big device.

Eric, for comparison to the $.15 per kWh charged by your employer, what rate does the electric utility in your area charge it’s residential customers?

I live just down the street, and my residential rate is about $0.11-$0.12 per kWh. It will be interesting to see what maintenance, if any, is really required for these units.

With a name like GE = General Electric you would think they would be all about EV charging.
In 2010 I thought GE would have been the company to build out Supercharging stations on major highways like Tesla does.
I guess they’re content just selling household appliances. Maybe that’s why their Stock stays below $30 a share.

NPNS!
Volt#671

GE’s bigger business is actually in power turbines (think hydro dams, wind turbines and of course natural gas power plants). Again, you’d think they’d be all over encouraging more consumption of electricity.

GE also sells a heck of a lot of Gas turbine engines for jets and such… 🙂

You might also want to consider Sun Country Highway evChargers which are available in various level 2 configurations up to 80A for less than these G.E. units. http://bit.ly/evCharger
If required, they can also be configured with payment options at additional cost.

These new chargers should help expand more workplace charging even faster.

For an employer, I would think it would be even better to allow the use of the same RFID that they already use for their access control badges.

Nice write-up, Eric. Thanks for sharing.
The GE DuraStation is our most popular workplace charger for the reasons stated…robust, good value and versatile. We have sold many in different configurations and keep some in our inventory. We also have access from GE for a 20 business day build of any commercial stations they do not stock.
As far an obtaining information…it is challenging at best from a big box store or online retailer like Amazon. Buying from an EVSE supplier, focused on and dedicated to the industry will provide the best experience as they have the expertise and access to the right people at the manufacturer.
Comparing it to ChargePoint really isn’t a fair comparison as the DuraStation is not networked. When comparing networked stations (which have their place) the ChargePoint is very competitive, and our best selling ‘networked’ station. Every application or project should be evaluated individually to determine the best short & long-term solution. There is much to be considered.
I think you will be extremely happy with the DuraStations!
Mike

I installed a dual pedestal Durastation last September at my office (http://carstations.com/22561) and got a really good deal on it (about $2100 for the dual: the same vendor now charges $4950 for that unit). I like it so much that I purchased a single wall-mount unit for my home ($600 then, now $1940!) These things are built like tanks. My only complaint is the fact that the steel is not well protected and any chips in the paint will rust. This summer I plan to touch up the paint on the unit with an anti-rust treatment. As for the functioning: flawless.

I pay so little for electricity, around $0.06 including all delivery charges, that I give away the power 24/7 to encourage people to drive electric. It is not heavily utilized, and in 15 months of us I have “donated” less than $50 in electricity. The RFID panel costs $400. at that rate it would take many years to recover the cost of the RFID.

Brian:

National Grid last month for me in buffalo was 12.3 cents /kwh marginal cost. Syracuse is supposedly .5 cents higher, however they may locally tax it to death here.

Eric Cote:

Durastations are GE’s oldest product in NorthAmerica, being around for almost 4 years now. European versions are available in several 1 and 3 phase models of varying sizes.

Ours here to date are only 30 amps, single phase. They are good units, the only thing being trouble some is that somewhat inflexible plasticized cord, (1 #18, 3#10) and they don’t tighten the connector enough at the factory so it will eventually pull out.

They’re not a good value though. Several thousand for a 30
amp switch and some control/display electronics and 2 fuses is a bad deal. The j1772 plug runs cool at 30 amps though.

I’m just reading the cost directly off my bill. I calculate it every month so I can determine the actual payback of my solar panels.

Here are my incremental costs for the past 12 months, rounded to 1/100 of a cent:
Jan = 12.55 cents / kWh
Feb = 11.96
Mar = 8.64
Apr = 11.52
May = 12.43
Jun = 11.93
Jul = 10.73
Aug = 10.98
Sep = 10.62
Oct = 11.38
Nov = 10.16
Dec = 11.16

The unweighted average for the year is 11.17 cents / kWh.

As you can see, it varies quite a bit from month to month. But I am on a flat fee schedule, not time of use, so for a particular month it is pretty straight forward.

Humm interesting Brian. Your energy charge appears to vary more than mine. Is your energy supplier the default (National Grid), or do you have another company? Overall you are cheaper than me, but I just use the default.

Ok, Bosch, Lear, Pass and Seymour, and Leviton amoungst many others are going to want equal time for this commercial.

Then clipper creek will run a sale and say they’re the only charging dock that exists anyway

Rather expensive extension cords.
And being idiotically obtuse about sales is very common in large companies.

Eric,
Yes, I mean access via the internet / cloud. You are correct, the DuraStation is internally “networked” via your server, which certainly has benefits as you mentioned (i.e. low cost management of access control, usage data reporting, etc.).

As far as GE’s customer support…what we have learned is that most manufacturers are challenged during this early stage of EVSE adoption. In other words, because sales volume is (relatively) low, it is tough to justify a large sales force. (insert plug): This is why we feel there is a need in the market for companies like ours, who provide the resources necessary for a successful project. As a distributor, we have experience to provide valuable insight, as well as access to the technical folks if we don’t have an answer.

I’m not sure where you procured the DuraStations, but I know sellers like Amazon and Home Depot don’t have EVSE experts on staff. If it was from a specialized EVSE distributor or GE directly, you should have received quality support. Going forward, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. We are always happy to help.
Mike

There are several brand new GE Durastations available on eBay for even less than Home Depot.

I wonder, since supposedly Walgreens has ripped out their units, if they are selling them cheaply.