Solving the Apartment Charging Problem May Be Easier Than You Think
Charging an electric vehicle is easy for most owners. When you get home, you plug your EV in and walk away. The vehicle will charge overnight while you are sleeping and in the morning, you awake to a "full tank" to start your commute. Charging, with the exception of road trips, is almost an afterthought. Which, if you think about it, seems crazy and maybe too good to be true.
For 75 million of Americans who live in an apartment or condo, however, the experience of filling up isn't nearly as thoughtless or easy. In fact, for many potential EV owners with these living arrangements, not being able to charge overnight is an obstacle to EV adoption with no obvious solution.
Joseph Nagle, Project Manager and Strategist at Orange, is convinced that they have the solution for EV charging at multi-unit buildings.
Why not DCFC?
While DC Fast Charging may seem like an easy, already established solution to the problem for those who cannot charge overnight, there are a number of problems with this method.
First, let's not forget that modern EV batteries prefer to be charged (and discharged) at a slow rate. Fast charging on a regular basis has been shown to cause excessive and sometimes premature degradation of the battery pack and should generally be avoided. Additionally, owners have to go out of their way to find chargers (which may not be near their work or home) and spend potentially as much as an hour of their time waiting for the car to charge, assuming they find a charger that is operational and not waiting on repairs. Not to mention that this method of charging is by far the most expensive option available to owners.
Additionally, these stations are extremely expensive to install and maintain, so adopting this method of charging EVs is not something that will be as common as other options. DCFC is definitely not the ideal solution, even though it is one that works for some EV owners currently. However, as EV adoption increases at a much faster rate than the charging infrastructure is being built, waiting in lines at DCFC stations will become more commonplace. As a long-term solution, DCFC is out.
Public Level 2 Stations?
Public LVL 2 (slower) charging stations seem like the next best bet, right? Slower charging, lower cost, and much less expensive to install and maintain.
While all of that is true, there are still problems that exist when installing a small number of these charging stations at multi-unit buildings. Generally, it comes down to charging equity. With a small number of chargers installed, a first-come-first-serve process takes place and while that may be acceptable for owners who are able to plug in, it doesn't solve the problem for everybody.
It also doesn't provide the lowest cost to property owners or give them a reasonable return on their investment (if any return at all), which dampens motivation to install.
For the cost of a single DCFC, Orange can install around 100 of the Level 1 (110v) and/or Level 2 (240v) smart charging receptacles in a parking deck or lot. The Orange outlet (below) is tied into the Orange app and payment platform to allow anybody with the Orange App to scan the QR code and start a charging session. For EV owners, they would plug into the outlet using their mobile charger (included with most EVs) and charge overnight just like EV owners at single-family homes.
Cost is determined by the property owner but Orange limits how much above the base electric rate a property owner can go so as to limit price gouging. This means that EV owners in apartments and condos can have a parking garage with hundreds of these "chargers" installed to choose from. And because it's all slower charging, it's practically free from regular maintenance and is extremely reliable.
For property owners looking to provide an EV charging option for their tenants, Orange outlets are an option that will allow them to record data on electrical usage, set pricing so that they have a return on the investment, and attract EV owners to live at their property.
With any luck, and millions of Orange outlets installed, the problem of EV charging at apartments and condos will be a thing of the past. EV owners in these multi-unit buildings will also be able to simply plug-in and walk away. It may seem crazy, but it isn't too good to be true. It's Orange.