Tech: Electric Car Charging–A Primer

Tech: Electric Car Charging–A Primer

Things to Know Before Plugging In

More and more people opt for electric vehicles (EVs) because they are more cost-efficient and eco-friendly than gas or diesel alternatives. My neighbors have a 2011 Nissan Leaf that they have been using for years to commute to and from work, so it is very efficient for them.

If you use your car for long drives, you’ll end up charging them more. Check electricity rates in your area; you may want to sign up for a new usage plan. The more electricity you use, the higher rate you pay (although there are exceptions).

Why do people buy electric cars then? Let’s find out.

Benefits of Electric Cars

Electric Car Charging

There are signs to lead you to a plug

Low Maintenance – Since electric cars have no exhaust systems, no starter motors, no fuel injection systems, and other complicated moving parts, they are easier to maintain. An electric motor has just one moving part, which is the rotor. On top of that, you just need to maintain the tires, brakes, and suspension. Make sure you always have necessary tools such as tire inflators, tire pressure gauge and a car jack. No need to worry about refilling fluids (except for windshield washer fluid) and engine cleaning. The battery lasts for at least eight years, so that should be cost-effective.

Charge Up Anywhere – There are many charging stations for electric vehicles. You can even charge them in your home. Make sure to sign up for a usage plan so that you won’t have to pay extra charges for electricity for your EV.

Environment-Friendly – An electric vehicle does not emit any exhaust fumes, mainly because it doesn’t burn liquid fuel. The waste emissions brought about by fuel engines do not apply to electric vehicles. Therefore, you help save the local environment. You can even use solar energy to charge your car. Then, you won’t waste energy, either.

Safe and Secure – Electric vehicles generally have a lower center of gravity (because of the location of the heavy batteries) that reduces the potential of rollover. Also, there is a very minimal risk of fire and explosions should they be involved in a collision.

Frequently Asked Questions

I researched and interviewed some people and compiled some questions about electric vehicles. I hope that your questions will be addressed here.

  1. What’s the average charging time of an electric car? You can charge your car as fast as 30 minutes to as long as 12 hours. However, the speed of charging depends on the level of
    Electric Car Charging

    Knowing how much “juice” you’ve got is key to getting where you’re going

    charging you use, the amperage of the charger, and how big the battery is. You also need to factor the distance that you drive your car, so you may need to do some math. For example, take an electric car that has a 1.5-kilowatt hour battery. On a typical 110-volt outlet that has a 15-amp circuit breaker, it takes 10 to 12 hours to charge up.

  2. What is an EVSE? EVSE means “Electric Vehicle Service Equipment,” otherwise known as a charging station. The EVSE converts AC power into DC power for your car’s battery. Check your car’s manual on the maximum charge and miles per hour of charging. Ask a certified electrician to install your EVSE at home. You could also get a portable EVSE should you decide to move or if you are always on the go.
  3. What do the “Levels of Charging” mean? The levels of charging refer to how fast you can charge your vehicle. Not all vehicles are compatible with higher levels. All electric vehicles are capable of Level 1 charging, which is the use of a typical 110-volt, 15-amp wall outlet. Level 2 charging uses a 220-240-volt outlet, at higher amps of 30-50. Depending on the car, you can charge at 3.3 to 10 kilowatts per hour. Level 3 (480-volt) charging is “fast charging,” where you can get higher mileage at higher amperage starting from 10 to 50 kilowatts per hour. Tesla has its own 480-volt “supercharging” that is only compatible with its own cars; it can deliver up to 170 miles of range in about 30 minutes.
  4. Can I avail of free charging stations away from home? Yes, there are plenty of charging stations out there. You can check out sites or apps such as ChargePoint, EV Charge Hub, and PlugShare to check out the locations. EV Trip Planner was initially available to Tesla owners, but can now be used by Nissan Leaf owners as well.

Etiquette for EV Charging

Here are some simple rules to remember when using charging stations. Since these are public stations, respect the right of other car owners.

  1. Electric Car Charging

    There are rules on the charging road, too

    Use designated EV parking for EV vehicles – If you have an internal combustion engine, never park in an EV plug-in spot even if it’s empty. You never know when somebody may need to use it.

  2. Don’t “hoard” spots – Charge only if you need to. People might need the spot more than you do. Also, once you’re done charging, drive away and leave it free for someone else to use.
  3. Never unplug other cars – Even if the car is a plug-in hybrid (car with a backup gas engine), never unplug the vehicle. Respect other’s people right to charge up. However, if you see that they are done charging, you can unplug it for safety.
  4. Always practice safety – After charging, wind the cord properly so that people won’t trip over it. Practice caution when driving away and be careful not to bump into any cars or people.

Conclusion

Electric vehicles are an effective innovation. Electric cars are easy on the budget, eco-friendly and generally safer than gas-powered cars. Most people opt to buy electric vehicles because of these benefits. However, if you frequently use your car for long driving, it may hurt your electricity bill. Check with your electricity provider on a different price package. You can also ask your dealer to refer you to an electrician who can install an EVSE or charging station.

Practice safety and precaution when charging up, at home or in public charging stations. Even though electric cars are safer than liquid fuel vehicles, you should still be careful and respect other car owners.

What are your thoughts? Do you have other questions that were not answered? Please feel free to share your questions, comments, and tips with us. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends!

The Best States to Own an Electric Car

The Best States to Own an Electric Car

Four States That Rise Above the Rest When It Comes to EV Purchase & Infrastructure Incentives

Electric vehicles are quickly growing in popularity, and many states around the country are actively encouraging residents to purchase electric vehicles. Many buyers are purchasing electric vehicles after learning about the generous incentives that their states offer as well as the advantages to the environment. If you own an electric vehicle, or you’re considering making a purchase soon, below are the best states to buy and live with an electric vehicles. Each one has something special to offer buyers looking at EVs.

California

California is well-known as one of the very best states in which to own an electric car. Not only does the state provide generous tax breaks and incentives for car buyers to purchase electric vehicles, but there are charging stations in most towns and cities across the state. There are even special free charging spots in parking garages in the city of Sacramento, making it cheaper to drive around in an EV within the city. It’s highly convenient driving with an electric car there thanks to HOV lane-access that make traveling faster and easier to do. Below is a breakdown of some of the most common programs that California has in place for EV buyers currently.

best states to buy an EV

Plugging in is easier and cheaper in some states

Low-income citizens in California can get money off a battery electric vehicle (BEV), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or an electric motorcycle. Varying rebates are available from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project from $5,000 for fuel cell vehicles, to as little as $900 for electric motorcycles with electric cars falling in the middle of that number. Apply for the rebate within 18 months of purchasing a qualifying vehicle before funds are used up (the fund is typically replenished at each budget cycle in the fall).

There’s another rebate in place for residents of the South Coast Air Quality Management District offering between $2,500 and $4,500 for retiring an old vehicle amd replacing it with a low-emission model, including an electric vehicle. Residents that live in a “disadvantaged” community (according to state’s screening program) can get an additional $3,000 to $5,000 when retiring that old vehicle as well.

Not everyone will qualify for all the programs being offered in California, but many EV buyers can cut their costs significantly. And one state legislator has proposed an even more generous incentive program. 

New York

New York is a very EV-friendly state that offers plenty of perks to buyers that decide to go with plug-in or full-electric vehicles. The Drive Clean Rebate that kicked in on April 1, 2017, offers up to $2,000 toward the purchase of a PHEV or a BEV, making both vehicles more affordable. There’s also a special charging point rebate that offers up to $5,000 in rebates or 50 percent of the installation cost at qualifying locations. Insurance companies within the state are well-known for offering EV discounts to drivers. There is special plug-in vehicle parking at commercial buildings around the state, and EVs are eligible to drive in the HOV lanes on Staten Island for more convenient travel.

Colorado

Colorado offers the best incentives in the country for electric vehicle owners. There are tax credits in Colorado of up to $5,000 available to car buyers that pick up an electric car and $2,500 available to people that decide to lease an EV There are also special grants available to help property owners install Level 2 chargers on their property that cover up to 80 percent of the cost of these units with rebates up to $3,260 for a single port and $6,260 for a multi-port installation. Property owners interested in Level 3 fast-charge technology can get up to $13,000 for a single-port charging station and up to $16,000 for a multi-port charging location. Colorado encourages a charging infrastructure and it’s easy to find chargers in most cities around the state.

Best States to Own an EV

Some states make buying an EV easier

Texas

Texas is another state that’s a well-known advocate of electric vehicles. Austin Energy, one of the larger power companies in the state, offers to pay up to $1,500 towards the cost of a charging station or half the cost of the charging station, whichever is the lower amount. EV buyers can also take advantage of $3,500 in purchase vouchers that make the vehicles considerably more affordable to purchase. It’s important to note that there are vehicle, income and location requirements to benefit from this rebate program.

It pays to own an electric vehicle in one of the states above, and more states around the country are implementing programs that favor electric vehicles and help encourage owners to pick them up.

News: WattTime App Points You To Clean Energy When Charging EVs

News: WattTime App Points You To Clean Energy When Charging EVs

Use Your Phone To Figure Out the Green Time To Charge

WattTime, a Berkeley, Calif., nonprofit, has developed a smartphone app that will help you charge your battery electric vehicle with the cleanest electricity, thus reducing CO2 emissions.

WattTime’s cofounder, Gavin McCormick, said using the app can curb CO2 emissions by at least five percent, with some regions where nuclear or solar power are more prevalent even benefitting from a 100 percent reduction, Spectrum IEEE reports.

green charging

Green charging–it’s about knowing your network

The power grid shifts minute-to-minute between a coal plant and, say, a solar or wind farm, depending on energy demand.

WattTime mines two datasets that enable the app to predict what power plant will be used to meet increased electricity demand at any moment in 106 markets across the U.S.

If a carbon-spewing coal plant is coming on line to meet additional demand, the app can help you delay charging until a clean source of energy is being used, delivering the greenest electricity possible.

A WattTime analysis of New England’s power grid suggested that chargers designed to optimize for price, rather than emissions, can actually increase carbon emissions.

The company believes that its empowering technology gives consumers the ability to shape energy demand and direct it toward cleaner sources.

WattTime is partnering with electric vehicle charging companies, plus it has partnerships with smart thermostat providers that use the app’s intelligence to time electric heating and cooling for minimum carbon emissions. One charging partner that has incorporated WattTime software into its charging system is eMotorWerks.

EVs Can Go with the FLO

EVs Can Go with the FLO

Charging Your Electric Car Depends on a Reliable Network

The biggest change switching from the traditional gasoline or diesel car to an EV is refueling. The lifelong routine of refilling your tank—maybe once a week, maybe more, maybe less—is replaced by plugging in—typically daily. With a home- or work-charging set up, it can be pretty easy to settle into the new routine.

The big difference is setting out on a non-routine drive in an electric car. EV drivers quickly learn to gauge the length of a drive versus the state-of-charge of the car. Then the savvy driver consults an app for potential charging points at the destination or along the way. As the public charging network works to catch up with the growing number of EVs in service, it’s a challenge to keep up with the state of the infrastructure.

FLO chargers

FLO can add chargers at work or multi-family dwellings

One company in Canada is setting out to ease new electric car owners’ transitions to the EV lifestyle. FLO has set up a network of thousands of pubic charging stations throughout Canada. It currently has a network of more than 5,000 members who have signed up to use those stations. In addition to 240-volt Level 2 chargers, FLO is also installing 400-volt fast chargers that are compatible with a growing number of EVs. The company provides 24/7 on road support for public chargers

But FLO recognizes that public charging is only part of the equation. It works with companies to install workplace charging, potentially taking end-to-end care of the charging services, offering scalable solutions and smart charging services that can help an employer monitor and/or limit the volume of electricity provided.

FLO also provides home-charging units—offering the G5 and X5 models. Both are Level 2 chargers. The G5 puts out 208-240 volts at 30 amps to provide 6.2–7.2 kW of charging power. The X5 is similar, but allows a variable output current of 6–30 amps. The X5 also is a connected unit, allowing the user to manage the station via an app. A second X5 unit can easily be added on the same breaker. Both of the units are designed to be installed by a qualified electrician, are certified and conform to all relevant specifications. They are warrantied for three years.

FLO can also work with multi-family residential buildings to set up charging. Given the growth of electric car sales in Canada (11,000 in 2016, up 56 percent from the previous year), FLO has plenty of work ahead of it.

Sponsored Post: If you want to learn more about FLO and the charging station or if you want to know where to find a charging service, please visit the site FLO.ca.

News: Worldwide EV Car Population Tops Two Million

News: Worldwide EV Car Population Tops Two Million

Last Year (2016) Record 750,000 Sold

The International Energy Agency, which tallies the number of electric vehicles on roads around the world, reported recently that after a year of strong growth, the total number of electric cars has passed two million. The organization’s Global EV Outlook 2017 publication said the number went up 50 percent from 2015 to 2016, when 750,000 pure electrics and plug-in hybrids were sold.

Global EV Outlook 2017

Global EV Outlook 2017

In addition to the cars, the report noted that in 2016 there were 200 million electric two-wheelers and 345,000 electric buses, mostly in China. Government policies remain the main driver for EV sales, which may lead to volatility in the future, although more electric models are being introduced.

The top countries for electric car sales by volume are as follows:

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Norway
  4. United Kingdom
  5. France
  6. Japan
  7. Germany
  8. Netherlands
  9. Sweden

Of these, six have reached one percent of the overall market for electric cars—China, Norway, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Sweden. China, the United States and Europe are the dominant markets for EVs, accounting for 90 percent of all sold.

Tesla, Tech Features, advanced tech

Tesla Model S – Leading Worldwide EV Sales

China remains the largest single market for EVs, taking approximately 40 percent of the total market in 2016. Looked at from another lens, that of the EV market share compared to the overall market, Norway is the clear leader. Electric cars took 39 percent of the relatively small car market in that country. Worldwide, electric vehicle made up only 0.2 percent of total passenger light-duty vehicles, according to the report.

The report also noted that EV infrastructure is only slightly ahead of vehicle deployment with 2.3 million electric car charging pointing worldwide. However, when private charging stations are removed, the number of cars outnumbers private charging locations by more than six to one.

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Top 10 Most Sustainable Cities

Top 10 Most Sustainable Cities

ACEEE Ranks Most Energy-Efficient Cities

Here’s where you want to live if you drive an electric car. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has been measuring the energy-efficiency of the 51 major American cities for several years. Among the criteria to be a top pick is an active transportation policy that is designed to make their cities more compact and closer to transit options, shifts to efficient modes of transportation, transit investments, efficient vehicles and vehicle infrastructure, and energy-efficient freight transport.

This year’s rankings were just released and there are some surprises. Here are the top 10:

  1. Boston
  2. New York City

    EVSE in Boston

    EV charging aids to a cities sustainability score (here in Boston)

  3. Seattle
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Portland (tied for #4)
  6. Austin
  7. Chicago
  8. Washington, DC
  9. Denver
  10. San Francisco (tied for #9)

In addition to their transportation activities, cities were judged on their local government efficiency, community-wide initiatives (for energy diversification and decentralization), building policies (stringent energy codes and incentives) and efficient energy utilities.

Another group of cities were cited as those showing the most improvement, including San Diego, Kansas City, Phoenix and Orlando (LA was also among the most improved).

Among the actions the cities’ representatives called out as reasons for their success were using renewable or cleaner-burning fuels in city vehicles, boosting bus service and light rail, and adding infrastructure like electric vehicle charging stations.

At the other end of the list, five cities were noted as most in need of improvement—Hartford, Memphis, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Birmingham.