Have you driven an electric vehicle (EV) before? Perhaps you have heard of “charging stations” for EV batteries in states such as California, New York, and Oregon. The U.S. Department of Energy has begun installing Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) facilities and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country. But did you know that there are three main types of recharge batteries to supply at these recharging stations?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center website, the first level, “is the slowest method, using a standard 120 V/15 A single-phase grounded outlet.” This makes it easy to use at home and at your place of business, as the infrastructure needed only costs between $500 to $800 dollars for installation. This cheapest version is common for residential use.
Level 2, according to U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center website, is “the primary method for dedicated private and public facilities.” Offering 208V to 240 V to recharge batteries, the installation fee for this public infrastructure costs between $1000 and $3000, usually around $2150 for a residential area.
In recent years, level 2-power infrastructure has become more popular, as it charges faster in public at home, and the EV recharging station. For instance, Toyota’s plug in Hybrid Prius, when recharged by level 2-power, takes 3 hours to fully recharge its battery.
Level 3, operating at 480V or higher, is still in development, according to U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center website. It would require an off-board charger to provide regulated AC/DC conversion and would cost between $30,000 to $160,000. Level 3 has the highest power to recharge electric vehicles, taking a Toyota Prius only 1.5 hours to fully recharge the battery. However, every vehicle batteries’ recharge times differ. For example, it would take between 15-30 minutes to fully recharge Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf’s battery by level 3 powers.
Currently, the US Department of Energy, as well as automobile industries, has been currently working to install level 3 power recharging station since 2011. Maintaining the level 3 charging station is another cost-based factor that could delay the installation of recharge stations in public.
With the increased development of recharging stations, the Department of Energy has also been developing electricity production from renewable energy sources, such as Nuclear powers, wind power, hydropower or bioelectricity resources. Instead of using the electricity from burning coal, these new methods to produce electricity are one of ways to decarbonize our transportation system. However, the progress to promote in using the renewable resources to recharging EV is slow at best, in the most popular EV driver states. Americans used to feel comfortable enough to use gasoline resources for transportations and burning major coal to generate electricity. We need to learn to adopt new ways to conserve energy; our futures depend on it.