This piece was originally published in the January 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Benny Thomas, Product Manager, Hubbell Incorporated
Early expectations for electric vehicles (EVs) and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) indicated a rapidly flourishing market that would take over in a short period of time. Sales of EVs, however, did not meet original expectations. Why? Because the availability, speed, and convenience of EV charging stations were not equivalent to or better than the availability, speed, and convenience of fuel for gas-powered vehicles.
With the rapid growth of battery technology and decreased charging times, however, the EV market has the potential to overtake gas-powered vehicles.
In preparation for this potential disruption, the market needs to be prepared with the proper charging equipment. EVSE needs to be adaptable to meet the diverse needs of users. It must provide flexible installation, communication, and networking options while making sure that the grid is not overwhelmed as a result of this new charging infrastructure.
According to a study conducted by Hubbell of general EV users and classified super users, key elements were extracted from in-person interviews to determine valuable features of next-generation charging stations. They include:
- Rate of charge
Larger ampacity EVSE (30A-80A) decreases the amount of time it takes for a car to achieve a full charge. This means less need for overnight charges in order for a car to receive a full charge, getting drivers on the road faster.
- Charge delay
This feature allows users to select off-peak times to charge vehicles to save on electricity bills.
- Amperage selector
Users can downgrade the amount of power pulled so it can be used in all locations (even where 30A isn’t available).
- Unit footprint
Slim units fit in a variety of locations and will not interfere with surrounding equipment.
These features have been integrated into the design and structure of some new EVSE units. The insight behind them will accommodate more features as technology advances, creating products that integrate directly with home equipment so users can monitor and speak to their devices to control vehicle chargers.
As the use of EVs continues to grow worldwide, the demand for more efficient EVSE that is appropriate for all users will also rise.