Electric Vehicle Charging Information
The move towards electric powered cars has proved to be one of the biggest logistical challenges of the last ten years. Not only have we needed to develop technology that works and is affordable for the average consumer, there has also been the not insignificant problem of making sure that drivers have quick and easy access to charging points.
If you do not yet drive an electric vehicle, you may not have noticed the number of charging locations that have popped up across the US particularly in areas such as California. Whilst the number of charge points still needs to increase dramatically, we may be seeing the first real changes that begin to make a difference and steer people towards a more carbon friendly travel option – the electric car.
The Rise of the Plug-In Car
In truth, the electric car market has taken time to bed in and gain popularity, particularly in the US, despite the potential to change the way we drive forever. Problems with infrastructure and the cost of vehicles has often put buyers off, not to mention the time that it takes to recharge up a battery. We are used to putting in some petrol and driving off, not waiting for 30 minutes or even a few hours before we can reliably hit the road again.
The great news is that more efficiency and better battery power has made things much easier recently.
The year 2015 may be marked down as a watershed moment for our growing number of electric vehicles – both pure electric cars and hybrids saw a significant rise in sales over last year which could mean an important sea change is underway. The biggest change has been in the sale of hybrid cars – ones that use a mix of electricity and fuel – which saw a boost in sales of over a 1000% in January 2015.
It seems we are indeed looking for more carbon friendly vehicles and the fact that the infrastructure is now largely in place has made a big difference. Granted, the government has been subsidising each car purchase with a federal tax credit up to $7,500 which has made a difference but there is still some way to go.
The performance of hybrid cars has improved dramatically and with manufacturers such as Porsche and BMW coming on board, motorists are more confident in buying. Most cars can travel hundreds of miles on a single charge and with encouragement to have home electric chargers installed there is less need to worry about the currently confusing network of public points available should you need them.
What are Electrical Vehicle Charging Points?
Essentially you pay your money and just plug your car battery into the charging point. These points are generally defined by the speed with which they charge your car, from slow up to fast through to rapid. A slow charge normally takes place overnight, a fast one can do it in a just a few hours, whereas a rapid charge is designed to work in about half an hour. You can find charging points at various outlets across the US though the distribution is patchy across different states.
How do Charge Points Work?
A slow charge can be achieved over about 7 or 8 hours and works by attaching your car battery to a general electricity supply. Slow chargers typically operate at 3 kW (13-16 Amps) and you can use a normal plug socket but it is advised to have a dedicated unit installed at home or work. The first initial public charge points were of this type but they are now being replaced by faster units.
Fast chargers deliver between 7 and 22 kW and provide a much quicker load time of three to four hours. At the last count there were nearly 10,000 EV charging points across the country.
Rapid chargers can come in either AC or DC. AC chargers up to about 43 kW can provide an 80% charge in about 30 minutes. A DC charger provides up to 50 kW and delivers a similar result. Whether your EV can take either the higher AC or DC charging will depend on your model of car and the kind of attachment you have.
Connectors also vary depending on the amount of charge you can have and whether it is AC or DC. You may need to buy different cables including a portable charging cable that allows you to safely perform a charge at home.
Charging at Home or Work
One of the issues, of course, with electrical charging is how long it actually takes. In a world where we often expect immediate reactions, the level of charging has been one of the main detractors for people thinking about buying an EV.
With a slow charge taking several hours it is best utilised at home or in the workplace. You can plug in your car and leave it overnight or park up for your day’s work and do a similar thing. One of the problems for homes is having the plug point accessible which means that if you park at the roadside you may have difficulty in charging up, something that could again turn many potential consumers away from buying an electric or hybrid car.
Owners of EVs are opting to have home charging points installed and there is plenty of help for them to do so at the moment from government initiatives. The cost of a standard charging point can be anything up to $600 for a standard installation. A dedicated charging unit can cost up to about $1,000 but with increasing demand prices are beginning to come down.
Whilst most us who buy EVs in the future will probably use home and work charging points, there are now networks available across the UK. You can opt to buy swipe cards for a set amount or use a mobile device to pay. Most operators offer a Pay as You Go option and prices at the charger vary from just a few cents through to about several dollars depending on the plan you go for. You have a choice of state and national networks and it can often seem confusing to new EV owners.
Finding where your nearest public charging place is can also be a problem but most of the network suppliers provide their own apps or website maps that customers can access. A site the Alternative Fuels Data Center shows all the charging points across the US along with useful information about what is happening in the industry.
EV Charger Manufacturers
With the growth in the industry over the last few years, there been an increase in the number of companies providing accessories such as charging kits for home use. Explore our market place to find suppliers in your state.
The Future of Electrical Vehicle Charging
We may, in fact, reach a point when we don’t need to plug our EVs into a socket to charge up the battery. In the future our roads could do it for us. Trials have been underway for some time to investigate the possibility that new technology embedded in our roads could charge up batteries. It's not such a strange idea - there's a 7-mile stretch of road in South Korea that charges electric buses as they pass over it.
For the moment we will have to contend with finding a vehicle charging point when we need it but the future will almost certainly be about more efficient batteries and better ways of getting the power we need to stay on the road.
Find installers of EV chargers in your area today.