GE DuraStation Chargers: Great Value, Tough to Procure
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.
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.
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.