Please Plug in Your Vehicle…….. says the newly installed charger in my garage.
I took delivery of my electric vehicle charger this week. All I need now is a car!! Which should be delivered to the dealership next week.
ECOtality are installing over 16,000 Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers nationwide as part of a government sponsored EVProject program to promote and study the adoption of Electric Vehicles. The good news is that I qualified for this charger at no cost to me 🙂 The bad news is that I had to agree to allow the charging station to be in constant communication with ECOtality uploading charging and car use data to ECOtaility. A fair trade in my book, the chargers cost several thousand dollars.
The install took about 2 1/2 hours. It involves an electrician adding a new new circuit to the house breaker panel using a 220v circuit. Due to Tennessee regulations they are also required to install a separate wall plug the charger plugs into rather than being wired directly to the breaker panel. This adds to the install time and cost and is somewhat unsightly, but the installers are duty bound to follow the local regulations.
The need for a dedicated charging device for an electric car seems unnecessary in my mind. Prior to researching and ordering the Leaf, I had imagined contacting a local electrician to install a 220 outlet in my garage for me to plug my car into. If you search on Google, cables for plugging electric vehicles directly into a house power are available, these are marketed in Japan and Europe. The US have opted for and mandated a more costly solution that will surely cause potential purchasers to pause and reconsider purchasing an EV. If I ever move, it’ll cost me to install a charger where I move to. I didn’t realize it until the installer came this week that a building inspector may arrange come to inspect the work, a building permit is required to install the charger in your home (ECOtality handled this for me). EV’s can be plugged directly into a 110 outlet without any special charging device, which underlines the unnecessary requirement for a dedicated charging device in the home. It seems to me as the consumer one should have a choice of a dedicated charger or just a 220 charging cable.
The installer revealed to me that I am ‘number 48’ on their list of people who signed up for the EVProject sponsored chargers, so I was one of the first to sign up for this option. They’ve installed about 400 home chargers to date as part of the EVProject. The installer remarked that a high percentage of customers he has had contact with are technical, such a computer techs or engineers. he also remarked that he has met a lot of British expatriates during this install process, he finds them more open and eager for this type of technology. Level 3 rapid chargers have not been installed yet, this is due to red tape at the UL Laboratories, ECOtality and the device manufacturer are struggling to get the agency to approve the rapid chargers, the installer said they have customers waiting for these to installed asap as soon as the approval has been acquired. Apparently the delay is over the charging cables, UL have requested modifications.
We had an interesting discussion about the need for US electric companies to encourage customers to use electricity during off-peak times. Plugging in an EV as soon as one arrives home from work is the worst time for the utility company. In the UK the ‘Economy 7’ plans make cheaper electric available to consumers during the wee hours of the night. I did contact NES several months ago, but they have no plans for a special rate or programs for EV consumers. The installer indicated that some US utilities are experimenting with using EV’s as a storage device and source of electric during peak hours, extracting power from the cars and then recharging them later. Maybe now I see why dedicated chargers are mandated 😦 Offering discounted electric during off-peak hours would be more effective way in my opinion of shedding peak electric demand to off peak hours.
The Blink charger is connected to your internet and can be accessed and configured using a web browser on your home network. I found this much more convenient than using the touchpad at the charger itself. I have entered in the cost per KwH of my electric, so that the charger can let me know how much each charge is costing me. It’ll be interesting to see how that compares to the cost of gas over a weeks commute to and from work.