Electric Car Charging Stations

The October 2010 issue of Popular Science has a nice, 1 page feature on 3 upcoming electric car chargers. Before checking out the article, I recommend reading our post on Buying and Installing an electric car charger! In that post we mentioned the residential charging unit by Leviton, but Popular Science didn't touch on that one.  Instead, they mentioned:

  • Nissan Home Charging Dock by AeroVironment - Level 2
  • Chargepoint fast charger - Level 3 (in development)
  • GE Wattstation - Level 2/3

Some key points I took away from the article:

  • It mentions 240-V charging (which is much quicker than 120-V charging) as Level 2 charging, and it calls "Fast Chargers" as Level 3 charging.  I wanted a little more clarification so I went to Wikipedia.  SAE International defines Level 1 charging as 120 V, single phase and 16 amp peak current.  Level 2 at 240V, Single phase and less than 80 A.  On topic of charging station:
  • "In SAE terminology, 240 Volt AC charging is known as level 2 charging, and 500 Volt DC high-current charging is known as level 3 charging. Owners can install a level 2 charging station at home, while businesses and local government provide level 2 and level 3 public charging stations that supply electricity for a fee or free."
  • Level 3 chargers are still in development and due to their high voltages may require a trained attendant to safely fill your car up with electrons.  You don't want to get shocked by 480 V!
  • The AeroVironment is meant to be a residential, the Chargepoint for commercial, and the Wattstation will have a commercial and residential version
  • The article mentions the Federal Tax Credit for Electric Vehicle Chargers that we touched on in our earlier post.  This can offset about half of a vehicle charger and installation cost, which will cost around $2,000.
  • Regarding the Federal Tax credit for charging stations that the article mentions, Plug In America states:
  • "Tax credit equaling 50% of the cost to install an EV charge station (as well as other alternative fuel stations), with a maximum $2,000 credit for each station installed. Businesses may take tax credits up to a maximum $50,000 credit for larger installations. Applies to qualified equipment installed before the end of 2010."
  • Regarding the Federal Tax Credit, what's key to point out here is that the credit is currently due to expire at the end of this year!  So if you plan on getting an electric car in the near future, I'd go ahead and install the charging station to get the tax credit in case it isn't renewed.

All of this reminds me of the electric car charging station I just saw outside of Whole Foods in Austin by Coulomb Technologies.

So which car company wants to let me borrow an electric car so I can test some of these car charging stations?

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Hi Chris Just to quickly advise you on the Level 3 charge points, a good number of companies already have this in production and even out on the road in one case. They are very fast charging and some can even charge two cars at one time which is fantastic for charging areas at super markets or car parks etc. The Level 3 whilst dealing with a much higher voltage will not require a trained attendant (unless desired in the area) as they have to have a earth leakage system which trips out the charging post should there be any fault or should the device be used incorrectly. These may also be in the smaller Level 2 and even Level 1 devices but are legally required in the level 3 modes. Hope this helps with your research!

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