At EnviroSpark, we strive to help our clients and prospective customers learn as much as they can about electric transportation before making a purchase, so that they can make the best decision for themselves and/or their organizations. That being said, we are proud to provide a summary of some of the most important things to know when considering an electric vehicle or charging station.
Things to know:
- There are currently two existing types of plug-in EV’s
- Charging Stations can be stand-alone or networked
- Charging stations can be divided into categories based on power output
Types Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Currently, an electric vehicle can be classified as either a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) or Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). The following is an excellent summary from the “Union of Concerned Scientists.”
Plug-in hybrid EV’s (PHEVs) are similar to conventional hybrids in that they have both an electric motor and internal combustion engine, except PHEV batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet. So why opt for a PHEV instead of a conventional hybrid? Well, unlike conventional hybrids, PHEVs can substitute electricity from the grid for gasoline. The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi, for example, can go about 21 miles by only using electricity, and the 2014 Chevy Volt can go around 38 miles before the gasoline motor kicks in.
Though this doesn’t sound like a far ways, many people drive less than this distance each day. In a recent UCS survey, 54 percent of respondents reported driving less than 40 miles a day. Moreover, using electricity instead of gasoline is cheaper and cleaner for most people. The average cost to drive 100 miles on electricity is only $3.45 compared to $13.52 for driving 100 miles on gasoline.
Battery EV’s run exclusively on electricity via on-board batteries that are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station. The Nissan LEAF, Fiat 500e, and Tesla Model S fall into this category, though there are many other BEVs on the market. These vehicles have no gasoline engine, longer electric driving ranges compared to PHEVs, and never produce tailpipe emissions (though there are emissions associated with charging these vehicles, which UCS has previously examined).
The BEVs on the market today generally go around 60 to 80 miles per charge, though a Tesla can travel over 200 miles on a single charge. A recent UCS survey found that a BEV range of 60 miles would fit the weekday driving needs of 69 percent of U.S. drivers. As battery technology continues to improve, BEV ranges will extend even further, offering an even larger number of drivers the option of driving exclusively on electricity.
Stand-Alone Vs. Networked Stations (“Smart” vs. “Dumb”)
At EnviroSpark, we understand that every customer is different has their own unique needs when installing an EV charging station. These needs will determine which type of station is the best fit, and help avoid spending extra cash for things they don’t need. Below is a general description of the two basic types of charging station categories, and will help you consider which type of station would be best fit:
Characteristics of stand-alone “Dumb” Charging Stations
- Set up for charging only
- No billing, reporting, or driver support capabilities
- Ideal for home
- Fairly inexpensive
Characteristics of networked “Smart” Charging Stations
- Ideal for workplace, retail, and all other general public locations
- Open network allows station owners full control over their stations and superior usability for drivers
- Stations operate over wireless network
The Three Levels of Charging
Not all chargers are created equal when it comes to power output, and thus they have been divided into three categories, or “levels”:
Level 1: 120V AC (15A): 10-24+ hours to fully charge and only makes sense at home.
Level 2: 240V AC (30A): 3-5 hours to fully charge and ideal for workplace, retail, public, etc.
Single Level 2 port (1 car) or Dual Level 2 port (2 cars): Port is standardized across all vehicles (SAE J1772)
Level 3 (i.e. DC Quick Charging or DCQC): 480V DC (60-100A) and <1 hour to fully charge and only makes sense along highway corridors. Only a few cars currently support Level 3 (3 formats currently competing for standardization).
Still have questions? At EnviroSpark we are committed to fostering increased awareness and growth in the EV industry, so please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.