EV Charging, Easter Eggs and Range Anxiety
Do you like a good Easter egg hunt?
If so, then driving an electric vehicle (EV) today is right up your alley. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
I bought my first EV a little over two months ago. I did a lot of research and did not make the decision lightly. I thought I knew what I was getting into…
A quick internet search for “Problems with an Electric Vehicle” will come back with more results than you care to read. In my experience, there are still hurdles to owning an EV. But time will certainly help resolve many of them.
At this point I still consider myself EV Green and I’m learning more as I whirl down the road.
As I document my EV journey, I will share my perspective of both the good and the bad of being an EV owner. Let’s start with that Easter egg hunt. I mean that elusive search for a charging station and the relief when you find one just in the nick of charging time.
Range anxiety is real.
It’s a completely new sensation for me, coming from driving with combustion engines. I had to reprogram the way I think about refueling.
Gas stations are well established. They had over a century to get where they are today. You can find one on practically every corner around the globe. And the operations don’t change much from town to town or country to country.
Not only are they on every corner, but they are also highly visible. Driving down the interstate, you see them clearly at every exit.
Today, we rarely worry about where we’ll find our next gas stop.
It’s not the same for EV charging stations. But it is not as bad as I expected. While charging stations aren’t as common as gas stations (not even close!) they are around. And this is where thinking differently comes in.
When I bought my EV, it came with a 110-volt level 1 charging cord. That’s the first big difference. Not all EV charging stations charge at the same rate.
At first, I thought I could get away with using the level 1 as a sort of trickle charge. If I could just leave the car plugged in, then there was no need to install a 240V level 2 charger in my garage.
After all, I do mostly local driving.
Well, that was a short-lived idea. With my level 1, a full charge was taking over 80 hours – that’s half a week! A half-week of just sitting at home waiting for the batteries to fill.
Basically, the 110V level 1 charging cord was useless for me.
The next step was to install a 240V level 2 charger in the garage. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of a $1200 rebate, so it cost me nothing to add.
Regardless, if you want an EV, I say plan on the cost of getting a level 2 charging station. I can plug in and charge in a matter of hours, now, not days. And I can schedule the charge cycle to take advantage of lower power costs during off-peak hours.
Ok, back to the Easter egg hunt… the level 2 charger in my garage is the first egg into the basket. For my typical driving habits, that’s all I need.
Longer trips, though, can trigger your range anxiety. This is where thinking differently really matters. I plan trips around battery range and charging locations. This, coupled with the long charging times, make driving with an EV completely different than a gas-powered car. You just can’t pull off the highway into a station, pump in a couple gallons, and be on your way in a few minutes.
For a full EV charge, even on a level 3 station, you can literally go eat lunch. When you come back, the charge still may not be complete. And if it is anything less than a Level 3, you may as well take a siesta.
All this requires effort and adds anxiety to trips.
To make this more challenging, EV chargers aren’t always bold and conspicuous. You never see a billboard saying: “Big bank of EV chargers at the next exit.” (At least, not yet.)
The good news is that there’s an APP for that! Yes, everything about EVs is about technology – even down to planning your trips and finding charging stations. For longer trips, I simply open an app and plan my trip. I can see charger locations along the route by provider, level, and even whether they are currently in use.
So, my Easter egg hunt is more of a high-tech guided tour. The app makes it super easy to find charging locations. I even found a free level 2 charger near my home and close to some local businesses. I can go have lunch, do some shopping, and visit the library all while getting a free charge.
One thing I found is that charging stations often hide in plain sight. Hopefully this will change with time as they become more mainstream – because we need more.
The numbers increase daily. The Build Back Better infrastructure bill currently under review by Congress sets up an EV Working Group and has $5 billion dollars slated for EV improvements.
The good news is it will not take 100 years to see change. EV infrastructure will come fast. Before you know it, the fun of a good EV charger Easter egg hunt will be gone. They will be accessible, visible, and readily available.
For the Good