By Al Lococo
May 29, 2014
Electric Car Range And Charge Time
The reason that electric car range and charge time are an issue for the average driver is because they understand and value the attributes in gas car terms. For these drivers filling their tank is done as an inconvenient stop on their way to some place else. It must be done while they wait. Whatever time it takes to get to the gas station and the time it takes to fill up and complete the transaction is a delay on their way to do something important. For these reasons, in daily driving, refueling must be as fast as possible and as infrequent as possible.
It is the duration of fill-ups and the frequency of fill-ups that generate the range requirement. If in daily driving, a gas car had to be filled every day because the tank held only 3 or 4 gallons, the time and inconvenience of fueling would be unacceptable.
If you think about it, most cars sit idle about 10 to 20 times as much as they are driving. In a 24 hour day a car is parked more than 20 hours and more than half of that time is at home where the driver sleeps.
An electric car takes the driver out of the refueling delay time. The car is refueled at the intended destination, not at some diversion along the way. The car is charged while the driver sleeps, not while the driver watches and waits.
If you are used to watching your car fill while you wait and someone tells you, that time will go from 10 minutes to 2 or 3 or 4 hours or more, the knee jerk reaction is that this is unacceptable. But no one who drives an electric car goes out of their way to a place like a gas station and waits for their electric car to charge before they can go home.
Electric car drivers quickly come to appreciate never having to stop at a gas station. They enjoy not having to pay attention the price of gas or which station has the lowest price. They don’t need 300 or 400 mile range so they only need to fill their tank once every week or two. With 80 mile range at the start of each day, they don’t need excessive range.
When refueling is an inconvenience, the frequency of and time to refuel are critical. When refueling is convenient because it is done at a location where you want to be while you are otherwise occupied, everything changes. Suddenly you don’t care how often it is done or how long it takes as long as it is ready when you need it. This is not an easy concept to grasp if you are used to watching your car refuel while you wait.
Imagine if you had to shower at a gas station. Owning an electric car is like not being able to shower at a gas station but being forced into showering at home. Owning a gas car is like having to shower at a gas station and not being allowed to shower at home. Whether it is showering or filling your car, it is more convenient to do it at home than at a gas station. The electric car takes the gas station out of your life.
Occasional Longer Trips
Some will say the problem is not routine daily driving. The source of the requirement for fast charge time and long range is long trips. That is the root of the requirement, not daily driving. If trips are all that you’re concerned about, you are half way there. If you agree that daily driving does not require fast charge times or long range, an electric car might be in your future.
Longer trips in an electric car are possible if you stop and charge along the way. It is true that this can be inconvenient if you insist on watching you car charge while you wait. But if you use fast level 3 charging and you are otherwise occupied while this is going on, it will be just a personal convenience stop. This type of travel on trips of 150 miles will be acceptable to some while ushers will find it unacceptable.
Long trips can be done in a plug in hybrid like the Volt using electricity for most daily driving and gas for longer trips. For others a second gas car can be used and for others public transport such as a rental car, plane or train will fill the bill.
Why deny yourself the benefits of an electric car when it can be used for inter city travel in many cases with a stop along the way, and there are other alternatives like the Volt and public transportation.
Portion of Wyndham Hotel Solar Parrking Lot, Mount Laural, NJ
What is interesting about electric car charging is how far you can go on just level 1&2. I just completed a 1,057 mile trip without using level 3.
East Coast Winter Haven, FL to Rhinebeck, NY 1,057 mile RAV4-EV electric car Road Trip Account.
This is a large 61 page document with photos.
There several factors that are important considerations in efficient EVSE installation.
They are geographical location, site placement, signage and fees.
In addition the appropriate use of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging are important.
Daily Charging Requirements
Commuting to Work
It is important to keep in mind that EV drivers charge at home and have a range in
excess of 40 miles so that for a routine one way trip they will not need to charge until
they reach their destination. So for most daily trips they will not need to charge at all or
they will need to charge at their destination before the return trip home. In the later case
this charge will take a few hours at Level 2 and twice as long at level 1.
The most routine example would be a daily commute to work if it is in excess of 40
miles each way. Assuming an eight hour work day, a simple Level 1 (110 volt outlet)
capability will suffice. Such a capability may already exist or will be the cheapest
infrastructure upgrade to meet requirements.
The Level 1 outlet should be a 20 amp dedicated or only outlet on the circuit. A
dedicated 15 amp outlet may also suffice.
We can see that placing Level 1 or Level 2 charging stations at work locations would be
valuable for daily commuting. Charging stations in parking lots and garages at or near
places of employment would be useful. Larger numbers of Level 1 chargers would be
preferable to smaller numbers of Level 2 chargers.
Having an employee connected to a Level 2 charger for 8 hours after receiving a full
charge in the first three hours is an inefficient use of resources. Better to connect to a
Level 1 outlet using the charger that came with the car charging for the entire eight
hours. This puts less load on the grid per vehicle for a longer time and generates less
heat in the battery extending the life of the car on the original battery.
Conversely, placing Level 1, 2 or 3 chargers at drug stores and grocery stores is an
inefficient use of resources. Most customers will spend less than an hour at these
businesses gaining less than 6 miles at Level 1 and less than 14 miles at Level 2. In
addition these stops are typically within the round trip range of the drivers home
Occasional Charging Requirements
Occasionally EV drivers need to visit locations beyond the range of their vehicle. These
trips will require stops for charging at way-stations along the route. Level 2 and Level 3
charge points will work best in these cases. Level 3 charge points at restaurants near
Interstate exits will serve EV drivers best.
Points of Interest
Level 2 EVSEs at points of interest such as historical sites, museums, shopping centers
or movie theaters will serve to entertain or occupy EV drivers while their cars charge for
3 or 4 hours.
Hotels and motels can be useful places to charge at level 1 because these stops are
usually for 8 to 12 hours or more, they are ideally suited to charging at 110 volts.
On Site Placement
Once the best location for a charging station has been chosen, thought should be given
to where on the site the EVSE will be installed. Economics will dictate close proximity to
the source of power. The further the EVSE is placed from the power source the more
expensive the installation will be.
Within the constraints of installation cost, consideration should be given to making each
EVSE installed on the site accessible to as many EVs as possible. Each EVSE should
be placed between two adjacent parking spots. Ideally the EVSE should be accessible
from four parking spots. Two pairs of EVs parked nose to nose can connect to the same
EVSE. As each one completes charging the next can be connected.
A big problem with EVSE access is gas cars parking in EV charging spaces. One
reason for this is that these spaces are often placed in prime spaces in close walking
distance to facility entrances. The problem of blocking charging parking spaces can be
minimised by choosing less convenient parking spaces for charging.
Signage and Pavement Markings
Signage and Pavement Markings can go a long way toward keeping parking spaces
intended for EV charging from being blocked by gas cars, hybrids or EVs who have no
ability or intention of charging. I have been told by drivers of gas cars blocking access to
an EVSE that the sign does not say no parking, and they were correct. The sign said
“Electric Vehicle Charging”.
Parking spaces intended for access to an EVSE need clear pavement markings and
signs that say:
“Parking for Electric Vehicles while charging or waiting to charge only. All others will
ticketed or towed at owners expense”
Such wording will be somewhat difficult to enforce because the burden of distinguishing
a hybrid from an electric plug-in hybrid or gas car from an electric car falls on
enforcement personnel. A Chevy Volt and a Chevy Cruz or a Prius hybrid and a plug-in
Prius hybrid are examples of cars with similar appearance where one should not be
parked at a charging station and the other can be.
Similarly it will be difficult for enforcement officials to determine if a vehicle not
connected to an EVSE is waiting to charge or has no intention of charging.
Parking enforcement officials have used tire marking to detect violators. Tires of cars
that are connected can be marked. Cars parked, not connected and not marked when
the EVSE is not in use will merit closer observation. This is particularly important when
all spaces having access to a single EVSE are occupied by vehicles not marked or
connected for a period of more than an hour. In this case an EV driver needing a charge
is deprived access to the EVSE while two or four cars of drivers not charging block
access. In this circumstance tickets should be issued. If this circumstance persists for
more than two hours, towing would be in order.
Nevertheless, despite enforcement difficulties, the wording is necessary to keep access
open for vehicles capable of using the EVSE and needing a charge. Even without
enforcement this wording will be clear to drivers who know whether or not they are
driving a car that needs to be charged or is even capable of being charged.
The pavement for charging spots should be clearly marked similarly as a handicapped
parking space but using light green and white rather than the handicapped light blue
and white and displaying a plug symbol and this wording:
“Parking while charging Only”
This in combination with proper signage, a limited amount of enforcement and proper
siteing in the least convenient parking spaces with reasonable access to the power
source, will assure EVSE availability when needed.
The currently expanding infrastructure is being dominated by complex Level 2 J1772
EVSEs which are often government subsidized equipment.
These EVSEs are often made available to users for the purpose of charging their EVs
for free. The intent is to encourage early adopter to buy an EV.
The fact that the equipment is free has not resulted in the best choice of location for
installation. Efficient EVSE placement and installation has already been discussed.
Fee Free Charging
The fact that the use of the equipment is free has not resulted in the most efficient use
of this equipment. Although EVSE use is often free, the equipment often includes a
complex networked wireless accounting system capable of billing users for access. This
billing is to commence at some some time in the future. This built in accounting system
combined with the fact that this equipment is Level 2 J1772 makes it expensive when
not subsidized and expensive to install.
EV drivers initially are outnumbered by charging stations in their local area. This
combined with the fact their use is free has encouraged many EV drivers to charge
away from home even though the charging station they are using is well within round
trip range of their home charger. This is viewed by some EV drivers as free electricity.
Some of these drivers will block access to an EVSE for hours after they are fully
Many of these same drivers will not use an EVSE with a fee.
Free EVSEs and free EVSE use has not resulted in the best placement or most efficient
use of EVSE infrastructure.
Fee Based Charging
The question of what fee should be charged for EVSE use is affected by electricity cost,
equipment cost, installation cost and billing cost. It has been said that the cost of billing
for charging far exceeds the cost of electricity and has in some cases justified free
Many charging stations that are not free, charge $2.50 per hour. This makes the cost of
charging an EV equivalent to about $5.00 per gallon for gas. Some charging stations
have tried charging as much as $4.75 per hour. Needless to say, these stations are not
often used. The attitude of most EV drivers is they bought their EV to reduce operating
costs, not to pay more than the price of gas.
So what is reasonable? Paying at a public charging station what you pay at home
seems reasonable. Most commercial customers pay a lower rate than residential
customers so an efficiently (one not blocked) heavily used station would recover some
of the installation cost over time while paying electricity use. Forty five cents an hour
would be reasonable to any driver who really needs a Level 2 charge. This would also
discourage local drivers who could charge for the same price or less off peak at home
where their needs and community needs are best met.
Level 1 charging uses less electricity and should be less than half the price of Level 2
charging, perhaps twenty cents per hour.
An EV driver’s tolerance for the price of a charge will be related to:
– how convenient the charging station is to the place he will be spending his time while
– the time it takes to charge and
– how desperately he needs to charge.
Level 3 charging conveniently located at a restaurant near an Interstate exit will
command the highest price. A price at or near the price of gas for similar range would be
acceptable to most. Perhaps $12.00 – $17.00.
Metered EVSE Parking
One way to solve several problems related EV charging is to use parking meters in
each EV parking space. This will discourage gas cars or local EVs not needing to
charge at public charge stations, because they are within range of their home charger,
from blocking or using these spaces.
Parking meters can also serve as simple method of collecting fees for charging. This will
allow less complicated equipment to be install reducing both equipment and billing
costs. Level 1 charging can be offered for the cost of installing a 110 volt outlet,
pavement markings, signage and a parking meeter.
Similarly Level 2 charging can be provided using a simple EVSE, without wireless
networked billing system, plus pavement markings, signage and a parking meeter.
“Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.”
M. King Hubbert
I can’t build a high speed electric rail line but I can buy and drive an electric car.
I can’t build a wind farm or a more efficient electric grid, but I can put solar on my roof.
I can’t stop Monsanto, but I can buy local produce and reduce my consumption pf meat.
I can’t pass laws regulating pollution producing corporations producing fossil fuels.
But I can be an example of how to live fossil fuel free to ny family, friends and neighbours.
We are not powerless. How we live and what we do every day makes a difference. You can change your life, save money and change the world while you are doing it.
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Photo: White Zombie – World’s Fastest Street Legal Car – Love this car! http://electricandhybridcars.com/index.php/pages/worldsfastestcar.html