EV Charging Stations Grow to Match the Rise of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicle (EV) charging is a top concern among potential buyers in the growing market for alternative transportation. Maybe you want to invest in an electric vehicle, but you worry not enough spots exist in the world to charge it just yet. Well, you’re not alone: No one wants to get stranded somewhere without enough juice to get home. But all that is about to change.

EV Charging Stations Catch Up

More people than ever are buying EVs. Cumulatively, some 542,000 were sold in 2016, according to ChargePoint, a leading manufacturer of charging stations. Homeowners who already prioritize sustainability tend to be the ones investing in these cars, as EV sales are higher among owners of solar panels.

Also growing: the charging infrastructure needed to keep all those EVs moving. Charging capacity rose 25 percent last year alone, ChargePoint says.

We’re Getting There

Today, public stations can accommodate most of the roughly 30 models of available EVs, Don Francis of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities-Georgia initiative told me in an interview.

“Are we where we need to be? Not quite yet. Are we getting there? Yes we are,” Francis summarized.

Clean Cities-Georgia works with vehicle fleets, fuel providers, community leaders and others to promote alternative energy sources. The goal is to have EV charging stations become so commonplace that you won’t have to look for one.

“Charging is something you will do where you go, not something you go to do,” Francis pointed out.

Depending on Where You Live…

Progress on that goal varies from state to state, with California at the top of the EV market and Georgia not far behind. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, just added 100 parking spaces for electric vehicles, with 200 to come in the next few years.

So, these two states are killing it, but what about the other 48? Well, let’s just say they’re working on it.

While it can feel frustrating to live in a place that feels like it’s lagging behind in the technology of the future, there are still things consumers can do who don’t live in states actively filling with EV charging stations but still want to zip around electrically. Francis says anyone driving less than 50 miles a day will be covered with charging at home or at work. Others will need to look at maps of available chargers on the government’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. Interactive maps allow you find EV charging stations and plan routes.

What about Charging Times and Costs?

Charging can seem complicated at first. But basically, there are three kinds of charging:

  • Level 1 uses 110-volt household outlet, takes about 16 hours to charge and provides 100 miles of driving.
  • Level 2 requires a 240-volt outlet at a charging station but recharges the battery six times faster than a Level 1, providing the same distance with just a four-hour charge.
  • DC Fast charges up to 80 percent of the EV in just about 30 minutes by converting alternate-current (AC) to direct-current (DC) power.

That last one sounds like the dream, huh? Just bear in mind that not all EVs are equipped to use a DC fast charger, and there are two standards for equipment on them, depending on the make of the vehicle. Talk with your dealer to understand what your EV is capable of and the options that would be most cost- and energy-efficient for your household. And at the end of the day, choose what works best for you to go green and enjoy the road at the same time.

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