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Where Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Don't Make Sense

Date Created:
Oct 17, 2022
Date Last Updated:
So far the majority of public-facing infrastructure has been charging stations, however, more than 80% of all charging is done at home with most homeowners choosing to use an outlet over purchasing and installing an actual charging station. Vehicle charging stations do have their place in the larger EV ecosystem, but in many cases outlets actually make more sense.

One of the biggest misconceptions about electric vehicle charging is that the charger is something you plug into your vehicle. In actuality, the charger for an electric vehicle is built into the vehicle itself, the “charger” is merely a plug that provides power. What these stations really provide is access to power and this is where the question comes into play. Where do outlets make more sense to install than charging stations? 

So far the majority of public-facing infrastructure has been charging stations, whether they are Tesla Superchargers or simple Level 2 stations installed for shared use. However, more than 80% of all charging is done at home with most homeowners choosing to use an outlet over purchasing and installing an actual charging station. This is down to cost as many vehicles already come with a mobile charging cable and installing an outlet (if one isn’t already available) is rather easy. It's not as simple to say we should just start using outlets everywhere, because charging stations have their place as well.

Time is a big factor when it comes to power needs

Time plays a big role in determining what solutions should be installed. If vehicles are going to be parked for 30-45 minutes then a DC fast charger is probably the best option, meaning major transit corridors are ideal for DC fast stations. If it’ll be parked for 2-4 hours standard Level 2 stations make the most sense. Typically these are found at restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc. However, if the vehicle is going to sit for 4 hours or more it doesn’t always make sense to put in the highest power option available. 

In fact, it makes far more sense to install something slightly lower-powered so that more stations can be installed on the same circuit without dramatically increasing the cost. These are typically homes (single and multifamily), workplaces, and major transit parking structures like airports, train stations, and bus depots. 

Vandalism and Maintenance

Something that's been getting more notice recently is the reality that public charging stations are commonly broken. This is down to a multitude of factors but is commonly theft, vandalism, and accidental damage. Simply put, when public chargers are installed they end up taking a lot of punishment, and site owners are often the ones on the hook to maintain their stations. This is especially true when it comes to vandalism.

Once broken, standard charging stations are not only expensive to fix but also take quite a bit of time as an electrician is usually required to perform the maintenance due to the high-voltage wiring. Something as simple as a cable replacement (the most common breakage) can take weeks sometimes months to replace as most electricians' time is usually fully booked. 

Outlets Are Key in Keeping Costs Down

Orange chose to build outlets over charging stations for a good reason, they install for roughly 70% less than a typical Level 2 charging station. When putting in tens or even hundreds of stations those cost savings add up quickly. This is achieved by leveraging outlets that use lower-gauge wiring, essentially removing a lot of copper from the equation. Additionally, by using a simple outlet, the charging cable is not needed as customers will use their personal mobile adapter, just like they would if they had a single-family home. This makes Orange ideal for apartments and condos that are far more cost-sensitive than the average public charger network provider. 

Charging speeds are impacted as a standard Level 2 should supply nearly 300 miles of range overnight, whereas Orange 620 Outlets typically provide 150 miles of range in the same timeframe. Fortunately, most Americans only drive around 40 miles per day total, meaning even an Orange 520 Outlet (60 miles of range overnight) will be more than enough to cover daily usage. This is important because when the outlet is installed for home use it's more about replacing the energy used rather than waiting until the vehicle is empty. 

Where Do Outlets Make More Sense?

The places where charging outlets make more sense than standard charging stations seems to be places where vehicles are parked for a longer period of time (4+ hours) and where costs and time to fix need to be low. This makes homes (single and multifamily), workplaces, and major transit parking structures the most ideal locations.