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Will Charging Stations Succeed at them?
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It is easy to think that a train station is a perfect location for an electric vehicle charging station. But is that really the case?
There is a need for public chargers, but if the chargers are not located where they are needed then they are a waste of time and money. They will not be used and that would hurt the EV community. The location turns out to be important as the details about the recent installations at the train stations in Oxnard and Carpinteria point out.
Train station charging has two potential groups of customers. One is the people taking a train and the other is people going to nearby locations for an extended visit. The more there is of both these sorts of potential uses the more effective the location will be.
The people taking the train are the main target customer from the point of view of the train station. Train customers would be traveling for at least four hours, typically a commuter would be gone 9 to 12 hours and serious train travel would mean being gone for days.
Rail Customer Charging
The commuter would be the most frequent potential user. In the Oxnard example the two nearest Metro-link stations are about 10 miles and 5 miles away. That suggests that 7 miles would be about the most any commuter would drive to get to that station. Full speed EVs would not even bother to get a charge for that much travel. A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) might want to do that. A level one 120 volt charger would provide for that just fine in 3 hours or less for any vehicle.
The chargers in the Oxnard station are in fact level 2 240 volt chargers. They can provide 7 miles of range in a half hour or so for any EV Currently on the road. The car will tie up the charger for 9 hours or more and be used for an hour or less. Hmmm.
Long distance train travel is a good supplement to people with all electric vehicles that have 100 mile range or less. I have been using Amtrak for that purpose for a couple of years and it can work pretty well. The Amtrak stations are typically further apart than the commuter train stations so it would be within reason to drive 60 or even 80 miles to get to them. Amtrak travel typically takes one day to a week or more. A 120 volt charger will provide 60 miles of charge in about 15 hours. Why would any long distance train station need anything more than that? The same question applies to airports.
This question is relevant because of the cost involved. A 120 volt charging station with a J1772 plug can cost as little as $500 plus installation. A 240 Volt station starts at twice that and goes up from there depending on the mounting method and billing system requirements.
The cost on the installation part can best be understood from the electrical supply side. One 240 volt charger typically takes a 240 volt 40 amp supply. That capacity could be used for two 240 volt 20 amp charging stations. It can also be used for four 120 volt 20 amp charging circuits. Admittedly the four 120 volt charging stations will take more wires, pipes and physical work than one 240 volt charging station, but not that much more.
The big expense for charging stations comes into play when the grid supply system has to be upgraded. The focus of that would be the transformer and the power panel that supplies these circuits. How many vehicles will it be possible to charge with 240 Volt chargers compared to 120 volt chargers from a given power panel or transformer? There is a fourfold difference.
The other thing that makes 120 volt charging setups desirable is that they work for less expensive EVs than the full speed 80 mile range vehicles. NEVs, e-motor scooters, e-motorcycles and e-bicycles can all use standard 120 volt household plugs to charge and are a very cost effective way to get from home to a train station. Household plugs for outdoor use cost about $40 in parts.
The Cost of Installing Charging Equipment
Then again, people who are visiting the area around a train station would need a faster charge. People spending an hour at a given location are not concerned about getting 4 miles of range during their stay. They want at least 10 if not twenty miles of charge or more for each hour. That is why level 2, 240 volt charging stations are the standard for opportunity charging at public locations.
The other big concern is - how much time and walking will a driver be willing to do in order to get a charge? That is discussed in detail in the article on Creating Successful Charging Sites.
The train station location at Oxnard has the following setup:
· Charging station to
train station 2-3 minute walk
· Adjacent restaurants 2-5 minute walk
· Downtown Oxnard 10 to 15 minute walk about 1/3 of a mile but with a long delay possible crossing Oxnard Blvd.
The train station location
at Carpinteria has the following setup:
· Charging station to the train station 0.5
· Adjacent restaurants 1-5 minute walk
· Downtown Carpinteria less than 10 minute walk about 1/3 of a mile with no obstacles and pleasant shops all the way.
· Beach recreation less than 5 minute walk
Which station will actually have electric vehicles doing destination charging in the parking
lot on a regular basis? The Oxnard charging stations would have modest customer need for the train and restaurants and the downtown
area is just a bit too far. The Carpinteria one has the advantage in all these areas and a beach nearby to add to it.
Then again Oxnard
has been transformed into a really interesting and upgraded downtown area. It has been fixed up with lots of good restaurants and
a new movie complex. It is well worth the visit.
Fortunately there is also one charging station at a good location in the parking garage
in Downtown Oxnard.
This charging is for people driving through town and who want to top off to get to their destination. The most likely locations for that in Oxnard will be on the 101 freeway within a block or two of an on ramp. The Oxnard train station charging locations might serve people coming from Malibu on Highway one. Not only is that a limited number of vehicles but the route on Rice road is 2 miles away. People who know the area might do that because they know that is toward their final destinations. Then again the existing charging stations in Ventura are less than two blocks from US 101.
In Carpinteria the train station is about half a mile from US 101.
The Oxnard charging stations are currently free to use very cool. However they all require the use of the keypad to start the charger. That requires a smart phone, downloading an App and setting up an account with Park Mobile. The activation then takes at least four times longer than using a charge point card not so cool.
The Carpinteria stations have a charge point system which takes about 30 seconds to activate cool.
Which locations will people choose for corridor charging?
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Copyright 2013 Russell Sydney, All rights reserved.