As gas prices soar, electric cars are becoming more and more popular these days. Government tax incentives, and environmental concerns add to the demand for green transportation. In 2015 alone, 35 new 100% electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) came on the market. The list of vehicles at the pilot and concept stage continues to grow along with the demand for adding centrally located across the United States. As the American ideal of personal mobility continues to evolve, there's little doubt that the transportation industry is on the verge of redefining itself.
While all drivers of gas-powered cars today rely on franchise gas stations while in the city and on the highway, most EV drivers rely mainly on their home garage as their primary 'refueling' stop. Choosing the right car for your family and lifestyle is a difficult enough choice to make, but open up the door to home charging station option, and a customer can become quickly overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of options available to them.
There are a few critical questions to ask when weeding through the myriad of EV charging station, as well as some important information you need to know:
1. Today's EVs are standardized by The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
2. Intelligent communications systems are built into all AV charging stations; these communication systems interact with the car's on-board computer to ensure a safe and complete charge.
3. Sophisticated charging stations are much more than "extension cords."
- Level 1 charging equipment delivers standard household current at 110 or 120 volts. It provides a very slow way of charging vehicle batteries. Level 2 chargers deliver power at 220 to 240 volts and at higher current, the same sort of power used for electric ovens and clothes dryers. The nice thing about Level 1 charging is that the cord sets are portable and can plug into any standard wall outlet. This means you can pretty much charge your plug-in vehicle anywhere you are. The catch is that Level 1 charging is basically a trickle charge. You can get by on this if you own a plug-in hybrid, but it's insufficient as a primary means of charging a pure EV.
- Level 2 charging is a 240-volt circuit, and is much quicker because it is done at higher voltage and at higher amperage. But it requires more rugged equipment and more robust garage wiring to handle the extra electrons and the heat they generate. Level 2 EVSE charging equipment may cost more to buy, but there's more to be gained. There are the obvious timesavings and the increase in convenience. And you may pay less for your electricity because many utilities offer time-of-day charging discounts for plug-in vehicle owners.
4. Many AV charging station models have tamper-resistant features, including a retracting, lockable charging cord. Make sure you scope out your garage and purchase a charging cord that is long enough to be serviceable to your car. Typically between 12 and 25 feet will be sufficient. Costs can go up considerably for every foot, so measure properly and save yourself some big bucks.
5. EV and PHEV cars require different chargers – you want a charger that universal charger. Because the chargers for both Level 1 and Level 2 charging are built into the car, the maximum rate at which the battery can be refilled depends on the capacity of the charger the automaker put under the hood as well as the amount of power the EVSE can supply. The key elements in charging speed are:
- The capacity of the car's onboard charger (kilowatts or kW)
- The voltage of the EVSE (volts)
- The amperage of the EVSE (amps)
6. Voltage and Amperage: Common Level 2 output ratings are 16 amps and 30 amps, but there are others in between and ranging all the way up to 80 amps. Which one should you buy? We suggest you buy an EVSE rated for the most amps your budget will allow. Prices go up with amperage increases, though, both for the unit itself and the wiring necessary to support it. Additionally, the wiring that runs from the circuit breaker to the EVSE also must be properly sized to handle the amperage and the distance from the EVSE to the breaker.
7. Price – As with any buying decision, you don’t want to spend too little because it won’t last over time. Find the middle of the road version that fits your electric vehicle model.
8. Purchase your EV charging station from a company close to your home. If you have issues, you can contact them. As charging stations are new to the market, you want to be able to call someone if you need a part. You also want to be able to obtain the part easily; therefore, choosing a company close to home will come in handy. Additionally, service is available there – on location; this is a BIG plus.
9. Buying the charging station is only part of the cost, however. You'll need a qualified electrician to wire things up, too. Some locales require permits and inspections. It is crucial to hire a qualified company to do the installation.
10. Adding EV charging infrastructure to new construction projects is highly likely to be less costly than retrofits - consider EVs in your blueprints for maximum efficiencies.
At ASE Solar Solutions, we have done our research and only install EV Solutions electric charging stations.