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Can More Home-based Charging Options Boost EV Adoption?

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【Summary】According to Gil Tal, Research Director at the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center in the University of California-Davis, more than 80 percent of EV owners charge their cars at home.

Michael Cheng    Sep 16, 2018 8:00 AM PT
Can More Home-based Charging Options Boost EV Adoption?
author: Michael Cheng   

When it comes to charging EVs, owners have two main options: public charging stations and home-based charging hubs. While lately most of the focus has been around developing an accessible network of EV charging stations across highways, rest stops and parking lots, discussions about home-location charging should not be neglected.

Home-based EV charging is currently a widely used method for charging, as many individuals prefer to leave their vehicles plugged in overnight to save time. For local officials and governments, catering to EV charging in residential spaces could help increase the adoption of electrified cars.  

Overnight Charging

According to researchers from the Rocky Mountain Institute, when purchasing EVs, customers heavily factor in the location and convenience of EV chargers within the local area. Many individuals view having direct access to powerful EV chargers at home or work as having a dedicated fueling station for gas-powered vehicles.

"Home-location charging is the most frequently used and the most influential in the purchasing decision and the vehicle usage," said Gil Tal, Research Director at the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center in the University of California-Davis.

Tal highlighted that home-based charging falls within the category of overnight charging stations, which could be located in garages next to apartments or workplaces. Such locations are known to host vehicles for long periods of time, compared to parking lots at shopping centers and grocery chains.

Tal also pointed out that more than 80 percent of EV owners charge their cars at home.

Types of EV Chargers for Homes

Generally speaking, home-location EV charging is facilitated by Level 1 or Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, or EVSE. In the US, Level 1 EV charging utilizes commonly found 120V AC outlets, making installation and compatibility simple to manage. Typically supplied by automakers (included with the vehicle), this charging method is slow, with an average rate of five miles of range per hour, compared to Level 2 charging.

However, from a usability perspective, Level 1 units are sufficient for home-based charging because most EV owners do not require a full charge (from completely empty to full) and are prone to leaving their car in the garage overnight.

Level 2 EV charging leverages 208-240V AC, which could be an issue for homes without adequate access to the required voltage range. Although this type of EV charger may need electrical upgrades and tend to be more expensive, it is preferred over Level 1 charging methods due to its ability to charge at a faster rate – roughly 50 miles of range per hour.

Level 2, as well as Level 3 EV chargers (DC fast charging via 480V DC), are mostly found in public and commercial locations.

"For any new technology to receive market entry, consumers first need to be aware of it, which would mean they know what an electric vehicle is, they know the incentives that are available for them and they know that there's charging infrastructure," cited Scott Hardman, Researcher at the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center.

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