Taking Charge Of Your Electric Car

NOV 27 2018 BY JIM GORZELANY 7

The charging network continuously expands.

Though most EV owners tether their vehicles to the power grid at home, public charging is becoming an increasingly convenient option.

You’ll find chargers installed in retail parking lots, public parking garages, and new-car dealerships across America, as well as at many national parks. They’re most prevalent in or near larger cities, college towns and other areas where there’s a higher concentration of EVs.

If you own an EV, you’ll want to know where public chargers are located within a given radius of where you live, and which type of charging they support. Determining where public chargers are situated ahead of time is critical if you’re planning a route for an extended road trip to ensure you won’t get stranded along the way with a depleted battery.

A number of websites, including PlugShare.com and PlugInAmerica.org feature interactive maps that show the locations of public charging stations, what type of charging they support, and even whether or not they’re currently in use.

TYPES OF PUBLIC CHARGERS

Public EV stations support either 240-volt Level 2 charging or Level 3 charging, which is also called DC fast charging. You’ll even find some stations that offer both types. (Level 1 charging comes from a standard 120-volt wall socket.)

Level 2 is the most prevalent type of pubic charging, and it usually takes around four hours to fully charge an EV, depending on the model. That makes a Level 2 charger most worthwhile for “topping off” an EV’s battery while shopping, dining, or running errands (especially since some lots restrict parking to just two hours).

A much less common – but far quicker – alternative is a Level 3 station, which can bring a given EV’s battery up to 80% of its capacity in around 30 minutes. If you’re taking a road trip, you’ll want to plan your route based on access to DC fast charge stations. Otherwise, a Level 2 charger would suffice if you’re staying overnight at a hotel that’s adjacent to a station and can keep your vehicle plugged in, or are spending the afternoon where you can leave it parked at a charger for an extended period.

Unfortunately, not all EVs that allow DC fast charging can use all Level 3 stations. Most models coming from Asian automakers use what’s called a CHAdeMO connector, while German and American EVs use the SAE Combo plug, and Tesla has its own proprietary connector. Depending on which model what you own, you may need to use an adaptor to tap into a given unit. You can find what type of connector a given Level 3 station uses via the aforementioned charger-locating websites.

CHARGING NETWORKS

If you intend to use public charging, you’ll probably want to join a charging network. This is especially important if you’re planning a road trip, and you may have to join multiple networks to have sufficient access to Level 3 charging depending on the route.

You can usually sign up on line and will be issued a card to initiate charging. Depending on the network it can either be pre-paid or linked to a credit card account. Some networks also offer remote apps that let users find the nearest charging stations and use their phones to initiate a charge, among other functions.

The nation’s largest charging network is ChargePoint, with around 54,000 charging spots in 43 states, though only about 925 are DC fast charging spots. That is likely to change as the company recently announced expansion plans, hoping to operate as many as 2.5 million charging points worldwide by 2025.

Another prominent network in the U.S., the Blink network maintains nearly 1,600 charging stations in 25 states, though the majority are Level 2. Blink recently entered into a partnership agreement with Hubject, a joint venture formed by companies in the automotive, energy and technology sectors, that would extend its reach.

Meanwhile, EVgo, operates over 1,050 DC fast charging stations chargers in 66 metropolitan areas and offers free charging for two years to buyers of the BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf in select markets. Another network, Electrify America, is planning to install more than 2,000 DC fast chargers at nearly 500 sites in metro and highway locations across 40 states and 17 major cities.

Meanwhile, Tesla maintains its own “Supercharger” network of fast-charging stations across the U.S. for its customers, and it’s well suited for taking a long-distance road trip. They’re only compatible with Tesla vehicles, however. As of this writing there’s 1,359 stations with 11,234 Superchargers up and running across the globe, both in public spaces and at Tesla dealerships. The automaker says 99% of all Americans live within 150 miles of a Supercharger, and charging remains free to some Tesla owners.

PUBLIC CHARGING COSTS

Many public chargers, usually of the Level 2 variety, can be used at no cost. Of the close to 90,000 public chargers currently in use, an estimated 47,000 are still free. The rest, especially DC fast charge stations, require payment.

This can either be on a pay-as-you-go basis or by pre-paid subscription. The cost to charge an EV varies from provider to provider and from state to state. Some states allow pricing based on the kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity used, while others only allow providers to charge on a per-minute basis. Blink’s rates, for example, are between $0.04-$0.06 per minute or from $0.39 to $0.79 per kWh, in states where that’s permitted.

To further muddy the waters, ChargePoint allows the property owner where the charger is situated to set rates, though many of their stations operate at no cost.

Source: MyEV.com

Categories: Charging

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7 Comments on "Taking Charge Of Your Electric Car"

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Yeah, at least in NY State, plenty of incentives for businesses to install CP docking stations – depending on the particular utility servicing the Locale. National Grid has done an excellent job increasing the number of L2 double docking stations – although these range in size from 2.9 to 7 kw with really very few at the top end.

I like the new units’ ruggedness compared to the 1st models, but the new models give almost no information to the user, and make it easy to implement ‘load sharing’ (only 1/2 power when the other stall is occupied), and decreased output as well as decreased time may be selected.

Still, they’ve gotten me out of a jam more times than I can remember so I am certainly grateful for them.

Pretty good writeup on the state of public charging. We did a road trip in our EV last summer from southern California to northern Washington state and back. We used public charging almost the whole way. It was not as difficult as we thought it might be. We did have to do some planning, but had no nail-biting experiences. Lowers we ever ran the battery was 21%. Here are a few observations and thoughts from that and subsequent experiences. Nothing beats level 2 charging overnight and starting each day with a full charge. Do that if you can on a road trip. Chargepoint has very reliable level 2 chargers overall, but their fast (level 3) chargers are iffy, and some are only 25Kw rather than 50. They need to improve that. EVgo has the most reliable level 3 charging. Greenlots also has decent fast chargers and level 2. Probably a close runner up to EVgo. Blink has terrible reliability. Some do work. Most in my experience don’t. And they tend to be expensive. Plugshare is by far the best app for finding a place to plug in. Plug in whenever you have the opportunity. Even a level 1 charge overnight… Read more »

Interesting data but the real world had most of the Blink Fast Chargers do not work just like their Level 2 chargers. The Blink in our area only have CHAdeMO so a CCS Fast Charger is out of luck. All of these charging Networks also have just 1 port for Fast Charging. If it’s down you are stuck. The Blink and EVGO are only 50 kW too.
So Only Tesla with it’s special UMC Software controller Super Chargers with 4 to 44 or more ports and the new ElectrifyAmerica.com sites with 4 to 10 ports are ready for reliable trips. Tesla is 120 kW rates and Electrify America is 150 kW with some 350 kW ports. They are ready for trips with many real Fast ports.
Cost is another mater. Tesla used to have free Super Charging but not for the new model 3. It’s very reasonable at about local power rates of 11 cents a kWh . Electrify America is also at a comparable price but could go up after they are all in. Both are much more cost affective than the other networks .

Public L2 charging is a short term solution, like plug-in hybrids. DC fast charging is the only solution that will allow large scale public acceptance of EVs, which will also require next gen battery technology. I would encourage municipalities and private enterprises not to go too hog wild with L2 implementations.

I disagree. DCFC is expensive to install and maintain, and only really suitable for long distance trips.

If you have ubiquitous L2 charging at every parking spot and location. Then EV owners could pretty much always be plugged in, no matter where they go.

Charge up during work, shopping, eating out, watching a movie, working out at the gym, visiting a park, playing at the sports fields, going on a hike, staying at hotel, enjoying the beach,…

I too disagree. DC fast charging is like fast-food, good for when you are on a trip and just want to eat in a hurry, but i would not want to go to McDonalds every time i wanted to eat.

DC-fastcharging is great for places like Fast-food, restaurants, groceryshops, malls, city centres and other places where people spend 15-45 min.
AC “slow”-charging is great for places like home, work, hotels, malls, city centres, parks, theme parks, and other places where people spend one or more hours.

If i stay at a hotel I would rather park my car at a slow charging point and pick it up next morning fully charged than leave it at a fast charger and have to go out and move it again after 30 min and only get 85% charge.

Airport charging puzzles me. Most that I visit offer Level 2, however would Level 1 be a better choice? Far cheaper to deploy so they could install many more for the same $. I suspect that most travelers spend more than 8-12 hours away so if they plug in to Level 2 they consume a spot far beyond their charging need.