Electric vehicles offer several benefits over conventional ICE-based vehicles. EVs are cheaper in the long run, easy to maintain, and have a lower carbon footprint. With more users realizing the benefits of the EVs, they are looking for charging options that are convenient, time-saving, and easy to use. It was observed that a huge EV user base preferred the home charging points over the commercial charging stations. The probable reasons for the mass shift could be the advantages offered by the home charging systems. The home or the residential chargers do not essentially mean a private home connection, it may also mean a private workplace, shopping mall, or home offering charging service to only a certain number of users.
EVs are usually charged at the public charging stations or with the home charging points. Through the data analysis done by companies, a majority of charging was done using the home charging points during the nighttime whereas the daytime charging was split between public charging stations and private charging stations at the workplaces or malls, etc. Even though the public charging stations offer a rapid charging facility and zero installation costs to the user, it also has some potential drawbacks. The long waiting queues and the time required to charge the vehicle thereafter cause great inconvenience, thereby deviating users towards adopting home charging systems. Another prominent setback of the public charging station is the DC fast charging ports, which when used constantly degrade the car batteries at a faster rate and come with premium pricing.
In contrast, the home charging points may have some initial deployment costs but offers several benefits over the public charging stations in the long term. The current home chargers are usually Level 1 and Level 2 chargers which provide charging through 120 V and 240 V AC circuits respectively. The Level 3 chargers i.e., the DC fast chargers are compatible only with certain car models and are available at the public charging stations only. The below-listed points further enlighten the three levels of charging and their throughput.
- Level I Charger: Overnight charging using a 120-volt AC outlet
- Level II Charger: 4-6 hours to charge with 240 volts and 40 amps continuous load
- Level III Charger (DC Fast Charger): Capable of providing a 100% charging in less than 30 minutes (voltage and current rating vary according to the CPOs)
With these charging options, most EV users are now able to meet the driving range requirements by easily charging their vehicles overnight through the home charging points. Some of the top benefits of having a home EV charging point can be enlisted as:
Charge at ease: The home charging points eliminate the need to wait in a long queue to charge the vehicle at the charging stations during peak hours. The EV consumers can easily charge their vehicles at their preferred time and convenience without investing a dedicated time at the charging station. Also, since most countries do not have a significant number of charging stations required to address the increasing sales of EVs, installing home chargers will give users a sense of reliability with EV usage.
Affordable: EV chargers at home only require a dedicated power outlet near the parking location home and no other additional installation costs are required, unless Level 2 chargers are installed which have minimal installation costs. The household electricity rates per kWh are low as compared to the public charging station electricity rates, therefore the users need to pay the high charging rates set by the third-party energy companies like BP and Shell. Such eliminated overhead charges at the public charging stations make the home charging system more affordable.
It was observed that the users who used solar panels for electricity saved more with the home charging solutions. These home chargers also provide real-time time data using which the EV consumers can also claim tax benefits in some countries.
Battery Health Optimization: Any battery degrades over a certain period of time, however even if the public charging station offers great charging at a faster speed, it may cause potential damage to the car battery health due to its high-power charging ports. The home charging points on the contrary charge the vehicle with minimal voltage levels, leading to delayed battery degradation and optimized usage
Compatibility: Most EV home chargers are compatible with a wide array of electric vehicles. Such additional benefits add in terms of future EV purchases by the user from a different manufacturer.
Faster and Safer Charging: Using a home charging point can be faster than the public charging station unless the user is using the fast-charging port which has very high prices. The home charge
Another major benefit of using the home charging points is safety and security. At the public stations, leaving the car for a longer duration may expose it to several risks of theft and vandalism, therefore using home charging points assures the users with safe charging of the vehicle.
How Americans Charge EVs – At home or at Commercial EVCS
As per the Alternative Fuel Data Center of the US Department of Energy, the present American EVCS network consists of a total of 48,298 public charging stations out of which only 6,265 are the DC fast chargers and the rest mostly are equipped with the Level 2 chargers. About 80% of these charging points comprise Level 2 chargers. These Level 2 chargers charge the vehicles ~6.8 times faster than the Level 1 chargers and come with an optimized pricing structure as compared to the DC fast chargers, therefore are the most widely preferred chargers across America.
As electric vehicles are getting ubiquitous in the US, the need for fast and accessible charging systems has also increased. Automakers like Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen through its subsidiary Electrify America are investing in expanding the EV charging stations across America. However, the problem of accessible charging points will persist unless the deployments of these planned charging infrastructures are completed. To address this problem the state governments and the local authorities are figuring out ways to make the electric charging systems available to maximum EV users. For instance, to reach the target of net-zero emission by 2028, Los Angeles has started providing a rebate to developers and managers who are offering charging stations in the parking lots for buildings with multiple families.
In a densely populated area like New York City, where owning a private space for parking is a luxury, maximum residents cannot use private home charging systems. To ease such a problem, the local government of the city launched a curbside charging network called PlugNYC, through a partnership with Con Edison and Canadian charging station company FLO. The PlugNYC has an initial installation of 34 stations with 100 plugs and additional 4 stations with 20 plugs for the city’s fleet vehicles. It further plans to install 40,000 public Level 2 chargers and 6,000 DC fast chargers by 2030. NYC is focused on creating one of the largest municipal electric vehicle charging networks to support the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
As for the rural American areas, the US Department of Transportation has introduced the Rural EV Infrastructure Toolkit under the ROUTES Initiative to help rural entities plan the infrastructure and fund EV chargers. While in West Virginia, State Parks has installed electric charging stations where EV drivers get the complimentary service of free EV charging, while they rent the lodge or spend money in the shop. The Colorado Energy Office and Regional Air Quality Council have supported the installation of the first Level 2 charging station in the parking spaces. The Carbondale has expanded to 16 charging stations, of which 15 are free Level 2 charging stations.
Through such initiatives, it is evident that the US government is working in its direction to achieve the target set by the federal government of net-zero emissions. However, shifting the usage from ICE-based vehicles to electric or hybrid electric vehicles will be a critical factor in deciding the EV charging infrastructure of the US in near future.
Growth Strategy Ahead – American Commercial EVCS Network
During the period 2011 to 2013, the US Department of Energy along with ChargePoint installed 17,000 AC Level 2 charging and over 100 fast charging ports in 22 regions of the country for residential and commercial usage. Through this project, it was noticed that despite the installation of several public charging stations, the major population of EV consumers utilized the home or work charging stations. However, now with the higher installations of public and home charging stations, a survey conducted on the consumer behavior, reflected that around 57% of the EV user population is willing to invest in the home charging Level 2 chargers, while the rest of the EV drivers are tending towards paying a premium for DC fast charging points.
In December 2021, the US government announced the Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan which is aimed at building a national network of 500,000 EV charging stations. The plan includes a total investment of USD 7.5 billion, where USD 2.5 billion will be utilized in rural charging, improving local air quality, and increasing EV charging access in disadvantaged communities and corridors. The government has also planned on increasing the domestic manufacturing of EV batteries and components. Such initiatives by the US government in the EV charging systems are transformative with an aim to touch down the net-zero emissions by the year 2050. Additionally, companies like Electrify America are also extending their support in achieving the net-zero emission target. The company is planning to invest USD 2 billion in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure across the US, thereby supporting increased adoption of ZEV technology.
The home charging points tend to offer numerous benefits over the public charging stations. By charging the vehicles overnight at home, the EV drivers can save their time and are able to drive conveniently. It is not far that the advancements in the home charging solutions will reduce this charging time and further accelerate EV adoption. However, it is to take note that the users will still need to top up the charging while on the long-run routes. A co-existing public and private charging infrastructure will foster the growth of EV charging networks.
Even though the US has been an early adopter of electric vehicle charging technology, nearly half of the users still step back from buying an EV due to the limited network of Level 2 charging stations and the premium price of the fast-charging systems. To increase the adoption rate of EV technology, more installation of home chargers will be critical as the EV drivers tend to charge their vehicles with convenience in line with the optimized pricing.