This is the third submit in a sequence written by Dave Erb meant to demystify electrical car (EV) charging, each for potential EV consumers and for new homeowners nonetheless attending to know their EVs.

Guest Blog | February 4, 2020 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles

People approaching their first EV buy usually ask three interrelated questions: 

  1. “How much range do I need?”
  2. “Should I install Level 2 charging at home?” 
  3. “What if I live in an apartment?” 

Unfortunately, the reply to all three questions is identical: “It all depends” – on how the EV might be used, driver and family flexibility, funds, and quite a few different components.  As we bounce into the ocean of potentialities, keep in mind that it helps to consider an EV extra like a cellphone, and fewer like an inner combustion car (ICV).

How a lot vary do I want?

It all relies upon. Range equates to battery measurement, and greater batteries price greater than smaller batteries. Early battery electrical autos (BEVs) usually had 50 to 100 miles of vary, with the norm someplace round 80. As battery prices decline, producers are putting in larger batteries, and the typical vary is rising. Many newer BEV fashions have over 200 miles of rated vary.

The march of technology depresses the promoting worth of low vary EVs, particularly used ones. As a consequence, shopping for solely the vary that you really want can yield important financial savings. But comfort is critical, too. A automobile that doesn’t suit your way of life isn’t any cut price, at any worth. BEV consumers ought to get sufficient vary to make their common every day journeys, plus a bit of cushion for sudden errands, plus one other cushion (30 %, max) for chilly climate and/or battery degradation through the years.  But don’t overstuff the cushions: house charging makes errors on this calculation quite a bit much less important than your ICV expertise would possibly lead you to anticipate.

While an extended vary will at all times be extra handy than a shorter vary, there are limits to its worth.  Many potential EV homeowners might get by with fairly low vary. Multi-car households, individuals with entry to each office and residential charging, and people who reside extremely localized lives (e.g., residents of compact cities who don’t journey a lot) can typically accommodate at the very least one low vary car with no lack of comfort.

EV dashboards allow you to monitor your remaining vary in actual time. Full disclosure: Note that this explicit readout reveals kilometers, not miles

In native driving, 200-plus mile BEVs make vary a non-concern for the overwhelming majority of households.  Range past this degree could make street journeys simpler, however there’s a restrict to its worth. At freeway speeds, 200 miles represents three hours behind the wheel.  When dependable DC quick charging is on the market each 50 to 100 miles on most main corridors, battery prices and the necessity for relaxation breaks will decide how a lot vary EV drivers will truly purchase.  Even with declining battery prices, it’s unlikely that ranges a lot past 300 miles will discover a extensive market at that time (some extent that’s already right here for Tesla, and never far off for everybody else).

Plug-in hybrid electrical autos (PHEVs) use gasoline engines to remove vary-associated considerations.  PHEV batteries are giant sufficient to permit a non-trivial quantity of pure electrical driving, usually 10 to 50 miles, and will be recharged from the electrical grid, thus shifting some transportation energy away from oil.  To proceed past the battery vary, PHEVs shift seamlessly to gasoline for so long as there’s gasoline within the tank. In impact, PHEV consumers have all of their cushions constructed-in, so correct vary assessments aren’t significantly important.  Collectively, Chevy Volts (with 38 to 53 miles of electrical vary) run over 80 % of their miles on electrical energy. Even the smallest PHEV batteries let most PHEV drivers considerably cut back gasoline utilization, with no journey vary restrictions.

If street journeys are a comparatively uncommon prevalence for you, contemplate renting.  All kinds of ICVs will be rented for $150 to $250 per week, with no mileage restrict.  Taking a 3000-mile trip in a shiny new rental could make sense, even for households that personal ICVs.  The $1000 per 12 months {that a} BEV can save (in comparison with ICV possession) can pay for a number of street journeys price of leases.

Should I set up Level 2 charging at house?

It all relies upon.  If you’re constructing or transforming, the reply is unquestionably sure, even when you don’t personal an EV but.  Adding further shops is a trivial expense when the electrician is already there and no drywall has been hung.  If you’re sure you need L2 at house, you possibly can have a charger hardwired throughout development. But hardwiring isn’t important, and even essentially fascinating.  Plug-in chargers are extensively obtainable. If you don’t know but whether or not you need L2 at house (see the following paragraph), have the electrician set up a NEMA 14-50 (oven/welder) or NEMA 14-30 (garments dryer) outlet in a spot that might be handy, then purchase and mount a charger later.  Better but, have the electrician put in three or 4 shops, one in each spot you assume would possibly make a superb charger location. Covering all of the bases throughout development is affordable; retrofitting later isn’t.

Live along with your EV for a short while earlier than taking the plunge and putting in a charging station at house.

As for everybody else, don’t determine instantly.  Wait and see. Live along with your EV for a short while.  Most EV drivers discover that they’ll meet all of their day after day wants with L1 charging at house.  If you’re one in every of them, you’ll save a few hundred bucks. If not, there’s little or no hurt in taking a number of months to determine it out.

What if I reside in an condo?

It all relies upon.  Can you cost at work?  Do you could have a devoted parking area at house?  Will the owner set up a charger, or mean you can plug your alternative charger into an current outlet?  Do any close by flats supply charging? If so, have they got any vacancies? Are you prepared to place a bit of effort into being a pioneer, probably making issues simpler for the following EV proprietor to return alongside?  How diplomatic are you?

Ask your employer or your landlord if they’d contemplate putting in an EV charging station.

It’s necessary to recollect the principle purpose landlords are in enterprise:  to earn a living. If EV charging may help them entice extra (or extra fascinating) tenants, they’ll parlay the higher demand into greater rents, decrease turnover, higher on-line critiques, and a number of different benefits.  If they must spend cash (whether or not on greater electrical utilization or on the set up itself) with no hope of being compensated in any trend, they’re unlikely to do it. If the primary EV proprietor they expertise seems to be a ache within the tush, they received’t look kindly on others sooner or later.  So begin by discovering out what the owner desires and wishes, then work out how one can get what you need, too. Honey tastes higher than vinegar.

Most EVs eat about 300 watt-hours (0.300 kWh) of electrical energy per mile.  The common retail price of electrical energy within the US is about 13 cents per kWh. (0.300 kWh / mile) instances ($0.13 / kWh) equals about ($0.04 / mile).  If your landlord is prepared to offer entry to an outlet however desires to be compensated for your further utilization, work out what number of miles you drive in a mean month, multiply by $0.05 or $0.06, and supply to pay that a lot further lease.  If s/he desires to be compensated for gear set up, the 2 of you’ll have to work out what’s honest. Be sincere, be clear, and don’t be chintzy.

EV homeowners with no capability to cost at house or work typically have to make use of public chargers the identical method ICV homeowners use gasoline stations.  In this case, DCFC functionality and greater, longer-vary batteries are rather more helpful (therefore, helpful) than they’re to those that can cost at house or work.

Next within the sequence: More on street tripping.

Read Part One of the sequence, “Demystifying EV Charging: Pre-School – ABC, Do-Re-Mi.”

Read Part Two of the sequence: “Demystifying EV Charging: Elementary, My Dear Watts-In”

Note about this weblog sequence creator: In a 4-decade automotive engineering profession targeted on energy and emissions, Dave developed autos utilizing gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, alcohol, pure gasoline, electrical, and hybrid-electrical powertrains. From 1995 to 2004, he created and taught a 3-day skilled growth quick course on “Design of Hybrid Electric Vehicles” for the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is the creator of Chapter 1 of “Driving to Net 0: Stories of Hope for a Carbon-Free Future,” a group of 15 first-individual accounts of households pursuing sustainability by combining solar homes with electrical autos and a volunteer with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.


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