If you're fortunate enough to have some curbside Level 2 electric vehicle charging in your city, chances are you've found the experience to be a little cumbersome. Sure, we need EV charging everywhere, and not just the DC fast kind, which is both energy-intensive and onerously complex to build. But do all the Level 2 chargers have to have bulky frames with awkward cables jutting everywhere? Is that what we want all over our cities?

As with many things, like legally mandated generous paid time off and wagons, the Europeans are doing this better. Detachable EV chargers that you carry with you are extremely common for Level 2 charging in many European cities. Now, one New York-based startup is hoping the idea will catch on stateside. 

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EV charging is needed everywhere

While the lion's share of attention (and federal funding) has gone toward DC fast chargers, nearly all experts believe more Level 2 chargers—which run AC power and can deliver a full charge in about 5 to 10 hours—will be equally necessary wherever cars are parked. They're also cheaper and easier to build, safer, and generally more reliable. 

We've covered itselectric here before. It's the company that wants to allow businesses and property owners to earn passive income by providing electricity from their buildings to EV drivers. Now, itselectric has reached a significant milestone with its detachable-cable EV chargers, which are coming to several U.S. cities this year. And they may help Americans rethink how charging can work.


The company says this charger, dubbed "Brooklyn-718" after their home borough and one of its area codes, is the first detachable-cable unit to be certified to UL Standards for safety reasons. That would make it the first and only of its kind in North America. The chargers will be made by Connecticut-based product development company Gyre9, which also worked on the certification process with testing laboratory TUV Rhineland. The move should provide "cities across the U.S. an immediately deployable solution to meet their on-street charging needs," company officials said in a news release. 

Having a smaller, portable cable that an EV driver simply carries with them has countless benefits, co-founders Nathan King and Tiya Gordon told InsideEVs. For one, the cables mean less of a tripping hazard and should be less of a visual eyesore as an added benefit.

After all, with New York City's aggressive goals for moving taxis and rideshare cars to EVs, it will need significantly more EV chargers everywhere. And it's hard to imagine giant, unwieldy posts doing the job well for people who park on the streets.


"Detachable cable EV charging is ideally suited for curbside charging in cities, but we have recently gotten interest from fleet managers who are interested in the detachable cable from an operational perspective," King said via email. "Often cables on private lots are vandalized or damaged during use, and replacing a cable can cost up to $1,000, on top of charger downtime while waiting for the repair truck." 

Having the chargers be made to UL standards "follows rigorous safety testing that gives us confidence when deploying in public and private locations," King added. 

"UL certification is an important step forward for the deployment of itselectric's chargers in the public right-of-way," King said. "Most utility incentives and government-funded grant programs require UL certification, including the U.S. NEVI rules. Beyond that, as a startup, UL certification is an assurance to our city agencies that itselectric's hardware has been tested against the same standards as any other commercially available charger."

Itselectric's charger posts plug directly into a building’s existing electrical connections and run off spare electricity, so no utility connections are needed. Energy rates are set at a city's utility base rate. The installation of an itselectric curbside charger is covered by the startup, and cables are provided to drivers when they register with the app. The company is giving cables with North American Charging Standard (NACS) plugs for Tesla's EVs and the many that will soon use that plug, or a J1772 plug cable for non-Tesla EVs can be had instead.


"Meanwhile, charging providers who deploy fixed cables have to decide which connector to put on the end of their cables, knowing that some of their drivers will need to keep an adapter with them," King said. "Since essentially all new EVs will have a NACS charge port next year, any charger with a permanent J1772 connector will slowly become obsolete or require adapters."

The J1772 plug—and its DC fast-charging equivalent, the CCS port—are probably years or even decades away from fully being phased out of the North American market. But this approach does allow a ton of flexibility for drivers who don't want to live the adapter life.

And while itselectric is a born-and-bred New York City idea, the concept will soon spread elsewhere, starting with Detroit later this year, the co-founders said. "We are also working to deploy chargers in the three other cities we partnered with for our Ride and Drive award from the Joint Office: Alexandria (Virginia), Jersey City, and Los Angeles," King said. Plus, with New York already putting out proposal requests for more curbside charging, it seems likely we'll see more of these units in the coming years. 

With any luck, itselectric is onto something. The U.S. needs about 10 times the amount of Level 2 chargers it had at the end of last year by the close of this decade to meet anticipated EV demand. There's no reason they all have to clutter our streets and sidewalks. 

Contact the author: patrick.george@insideevs.com

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