Rectifying thinking on EV charging stations

May 18, 2014

The recent article in the CapeGazette shows the typical complete misunderstanding by the Rehoboth City Council of how EVs charge.

It is a VERY common misunderstanding (a legacy of our century of gas-tank/gas-station legacy thinking).

EVs charge while parked, and except for the few charging "stations" needed every 50 miles or so to get to the beach, electric vehicles only need a simple 120v outlet when they park!

Cars at the beach (like cars everywhere else except for traveling) spend more than 21 hours a day parked. Just plugging them into a standard 120v outlet can fully charge them.

And since the cost is only about 20 cents an hour to charge any make or model of EV on 120v outlets, this is insignificant compared to the $1.50 per hour for just sitting in the Parking space. Conversely, installing expensive, internet-connected-EV-charging stations for the purpose of collecting $1 per day for a car parked all day is like putting in $5,000 vending machines just to sell one candy bar a day.

Rehoboth (and everywhere else) could do far better to simply install a row of 120v outlets in existing parking places for the cost of a single "charging" station. And up the parking rate for those spaces to $2 per hour and actually make a profit!

The No. 1 thing that people overlook with respect to “charging stations” is that they are “fast,”  which means a car parked there must move every hour all day long in order for the charge to be available for the next guy. (The last thing someone in Rehoboth wants to do is go find another parking space after an hour!) Yes, it is good to have these for those few people that will only need to park for an hour and get a full charge. But this is not how parking works at Rehoboth.

Even keeping the rate at $1.50 per  hour (so as not to complicate bookkeeping), Rehoboth will make more money by providing free outlets at existing $1.50 parking meters where EVs will tend to spend moreE hours parked there to get a longer charge.  It takes five hours just to get $1 worth of electricity, but then the car gains over 20 miles for the next trip.

But if Rehoboth wanted to even collect the extra 20 cents an hour or make a profit, simply raise the parking rate for all those parking meters with 120v outlets to the $2 rate. In that sense you will increase your revenue and the EV owners will be happy to pay. Since it lets them remain plugged in all the time at the beach and not have to worry about having to move their car after an hour.

Please forget everything you think you know about EVs and stop listening to FOX news. EV charging is the most misunderstood and politicized thing out there. The only reason you only hear about “charging stations” is because it is something that someone can sell you. They cannot sell you 120v outlets since everyone already has one, and there is no profit in it. Yet the 120v outlet (costing $15 from Home Depot) can do the same job as a $5,000 charging station while the car is parked for a few hours.

Even the Maryland Governor’s EV Council has determined that over 97 percent of all EV charging (away from home at work or at play) can be done from simple 120v outlets.

Rehoboth can become the model for this new thinking in practicality and serve as a magnet for high-paying EV driving public to come enjoy their city knowing that they can simply plug-in while parked and pay at the meter for the privilege.

Nothing I say here should detract from installing the expensive “charging stations.” They are definitely needed for people only going to be parked a few hours.

You that you can service 100 times the number of EV cars for the same cost if you simply put in  low cost and no-maintenance 120v outlets instead, and up the parking toll by 20 cents an hour for those spaces.

Bob Bruninga, PE

senior research enginee

U.S. Naval Academy

IEEE National Committee on Transportation and Aerospace

public participant

Maryland EV Infrastructure Council

EV Association of DC/MD



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