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More Electric-Car Owners Install Home Charging Stations

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2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

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More than anything else, one of the most appealing things about electric cars is being able to sit inside, every morning before going to work, to see a full battery gauge staring back at you.

This isn't possible with internal combustion vehicles, because local planners get a little suspicious if you try to have a gas pump and huge underground tank installed at your house.

An electricity supply, on the other hand, is much easier to find, and it's the reason most electric car owners do most of their charging at home.

For Fremont-based Shinya Fujimoto, home charging has gone one step further, with the installation of a 240-volt, Blink-manufactured 'Level 2' charging station.

"I wanted to make sure I got it before I got the car," says Fujimoto, who drives a Nissan Leaf, owned since Spring 2011. As Mercury News reports, it's a common upgrade for those charging at home, allowing much quicker charges than the typical 120-volt outlet.

We've covered the differences between Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging before, but it's worth reiterating for those new to the electric car scene.

Level 1 - 120V

This is your typical power outlet, such as you'd plug a toaster or TV into. If you have a garage, you'll almost certainly have a few outlets handy, but for charging an electric car with its large battery, it's not the best option. It'll do the job, but a car running low on charge may not even have charged by the morning if you left it on all night.

Level 2 - 220-240V

These are typical of installations for home charging. If Level1 takes the best part of a day to charge a Nissan Leaf from empty, Level 2 reduces that down to less than 8 hours. It will typically need wiring in to the circuit, requires a 40-amp circuit breaker, and usually requires a permit for the installation--but the job itself is simple enough and can be handled by a qualified electrician.

Level 3 - DC fast charging

These are less common for home charging, but commonly found at dedicated charging sites. The car is charged by direct current, often 480V, and usually via a dedicated socket and connector type, such as the CHAdeMO system.

What should you know?

Level 2 charging is becoming popular for electric car owners charging at home, for the aforementioned reasons.

It's easy enough to install, charges the average electric car in a suitable amount of time (a charge overnight is usually enough to top up the car) and doesn't put the battery under undue pressure--some carmakers recommend against repeated fast charging as it can damage the battery.

Companies like ECOtality are seeing 240V charging stations getting increasingly popular, and it's now possible to buy such installations from hardware stores, as well as specialist channels. The company has installed over 6,500 home chargers nationwide.

The company recommends you do a little research on just what your car can handle. If you're thinking about buying an electric car with higher charging capacity in the future, you could look into future-proofing yourself by purchasing a higher-amp charging station.

If you're looking to save money, schemes like the EV Project run by ECOtality allow you a free charger (in some localities), provided you're happy to share charging data with the federal government.

To the average guy on the street all this may seem too much like hard work, but it's actually easy enough, and plenty of companies out there will be only too happy to advise you.

And it'll all be worth it that first time you go to work in the morning with a fully-"fueled" car--and every morning after that, too.

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Comments (11)
  1. The Federal 30% (Up to $1000) Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit is a nice incentive too.
     
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  2. I've had my 240V Voltec charger since November, I believe it was. Other than a minor problem the other day which may or may not have been due to the charger, it's been no problem at all. Due to the minor problem, the company which installed it for me just offered on Friday to install a new unit, so the service has been very good.

    I'm calling them later today since I'm not sure a new installation is really necessary. Too long to explain why here, but overall, I'm pleased that I got the 240V charger and would recommend one to anyone.

    As always, though, as noted by Antony, please do your research to see what you really need/want and what fits those needs best.

    Mine was installed for under $300 after incentives, so a huge savings...
     
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  3. At least in NM, one doesn't need a permit to install a level 2 charger unless you don't have room in your elec. panel. And our Volt charges fully overnight on a 120 charger that comes w/the car so we haven't gone for a level 2 charger.
     
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  4. Of course for UK owners a sort of Level 2 comes as standard, as the 240V is the standard voltage, though this is somehow not the "full" level 2 (the standard Leaf charges at 2.83KW, though some chargers, the adapted chargers and the car can manage 3.3KW). I stick to the 2.83 that came with my (UK sourced) Leaf, so as not to overload the outlets of my friends (though I did purchase a modified charger to be able to charge at 110V when necessary). As there are no public chargers at all in Jamaica, home and friends are very important!
     
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  5. Better Place installs the charger level 2 part and parcel of buying or leasing of the Fluence ZE. At no extra charge!! Is this a great company or no?
     
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  6. It's a great company but for how long?
     
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  7. I simply do not understand why so many people are opting to instal an expensive EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment - the proper name for a 'charging station') when, as Mr Hodges points out, here in the UK the standard 240V 13A, 3 pin socket will quite happilly fully charge most currently available EVs over night, 7 of them at a rate at least two thirds cheaper than the normal day rate.

    In the US most households that can afford an EV will already have a similarly rated circuit in their garages used for powering air/con or clothes driers.

    Even $300 is about 2 years of average daily driving's worth of electricity. The more usual $1k EVSE cost is nearly 7 years worth - longer than you're likely to have your first EV!
     
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  8. It's not that simple at all; just because one has a 240V socket does NOT mean that an EV can be properly charged. Of course my house has a 240V socket, several, in fact. Most are not anywhere near where they need to be and again, that's not the only issue at all. Also, who has A/C or washer/dryer in/near one's garage?

    As for the "expensive" charger, it cost me less than $300. It's already saved me close to that since I've taken my Volt instead of our Prius many times now that it can be fully charged much faster. You're also assuming that all current chargers will be obsolete, which may not be true.

    You also do not include any savings from the 240V charger. For every 45 km. drive, Volt-to-Prius, the cost is $.42 for the Volt and $4 Prius.
     
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  9. Does the explanation on level 1, level 2 and level 3 in the above text conform to the SAE charging configurations and ratings terminology in the following SAE page?
    http://www.sae.org/smartgrid/chargingspeeds.pdf
     
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  10. I believe it does, Mori-san, although I certainly could be mistaken. I have a Level Two charger for my Volt and the numbers seem to match up perfectly.
     
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  11. Sun Country Highway has Level 1 home chargers and Level 2 chargers. They have Clipper Creek chargers - the most powerful Level 2 chargers - 90 and 100 amp (220 & 240 volt)
    Check them out at suncountryhighway.ca
     
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