There are currently 10,000 or so publicly-available electric car charging stations in the U.S., in addition to countless private charging stations in homes and businesses across the nation. 

The current number of charging stations in the U.S. today makes electric cars trump all other alternative-fuel cars when it comes to finding a place to refuel, but according to a recent report, the number of electric car charging stations in the U.S. could reach 4.1 million by 2017.

The prediction comes courtesy of a recent analysis of electric car charging stations by Frost & Sullivan, a global consultancy specializing in assisting clients with predicting and handling industry growth.

Home-charging wins

Despite an expected increase by 2017 from 10,000 to around 500,000 publicly available charging stations, the study predicts that a massive 87 percent -- around 3.5 million -- of all charging stations will be in residential locations. 

That’s because most electric cars are charged at night while parked at home, when long periods of inactivity combined with specialist electric car charging rates from utility companies provide the ideal opportunity to recharge.

Slow, level 1 charging popular

2011 Chevrolet Volt 240V charging station

2011 Chevrolet Volt 240V charging station

Because most electric cars spend between 10 and 12 hours per night in a garage not being used, Frost & Sullivan predicts that the majority of electric car charging in 2017 will be carried out using level 1 charging stations. 

Essentially a charging station contained within a chord, level 1 charging stations plug into a readily-available 110-volt outlet, meaning they are both portable and cheap. 

In fact, since most electric cars on the market today come with a level 1 charging chord included for free, Frost & Sullivan predicts that most consumers will forego an expensive, faster, level 2, 240-volt charging station for the slower, cheaper option. 

By 2017, it says, 2.9 million of the total 4.1 million charging stations in the U.S. will be of the slower, 110-volt, level 1 type. 

Level 2 charging in second-place

Of the remaining charging stations predicted to exist in the U.S. by 2017, Frost & Sullivan says that 27 percent -- or just over 1.1 million -- will be capable of level 2 charging. 

Unlike the level 1 charging stations, level 2, 240-volt charging stations must be fitted by an approved electrician, usually in one location. 

Although they provide a much faster recharge time for electric cars than the level 1, 110-volt charging stations, Level 2 charging stations are still reasonably costly to install, especially in public locations like parking lots where additional cabling needs to be laid.

Just two percent for everything else

Portland CHAdeMO quick-charging station (publicly accessible)

Portland CHAdeMO quick-charging station (publicly accessible)

The remaining two percent of charging stations, approximately 82,000, will account for all the other charging stations in the U.S. by 2017. 

These will include direct current fast charging stations capable of recharging cars in less than 30 minutes.


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