Published on June 30th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


More EV Charging Stations Than People In The US

June 30th, 2013 by  

This article originally appeared on EV Obsession.

This is something that may be unique to me, but I don’t think so — for a long time, I thought electric cars needed a special charging station or charger. All the talk about new EV charging stations, chargers, and nonsensical “range anxiety” kept me from realizing that electric cars can be plugged into typical household electricity outlets. That makes “fueling up” an EV a whole lot more convenient than fueling up a gasmobile.

Actually, I’ve written posts on how ridiculously convenient charging an EV is, as I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of these cars for the people who own them.

So, I’m not going to focus on that great convenience today. But I wanted to highlight a great comment one of my internet friends made on a post a few months ago — “if you can live with a charging rate of 5 miles per hour charging, there are more than 475 million 110 V electrical outlets that you can plug into but at 8-10 Amps.”

When you put it like that, the whole issue of “limited EV infrastructure” and range anxiety becomes somewhat comical — ridiculous. And then add in thousands of public EV charging stations and electrical outlets with even greater voltage (that can charge your EV faster than 110 V outlets can). Clearly. we’ve got a pretty built out and widespread EV infrastructure network.

There is one key caveat. Many people who live in apartment buildings or condos or don’t have a parking place near an outlet for some other reason could have difficulties with an EV, and they may have the same lack of availability at work. 110 V outlets take a fairly long time (several hours) to charge an EV. Completely charging a 2013 Nissan Leaf using a 110 V outlet would take approximately 16 hours. However, with the 6.6kW charger that you can get when you buy a 2013 Leaf, and using a 240 V outlet, that is cut down to 4 hours. 110 V outlets can be very helpful to owners who have access to them, but for those without, some sort of residential charging solution or good EV charging infrastructure at work or nearby is still important.

Your thoughts?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Dimitar Mirchev

    Every street light can be convetet into EV charging station!

    Imagine that

  • Pieter Siegers

    My thought is wireless charging which would help solve much of the problems related to plug-in charger methods, adding a lot of good value to owning one. It’s going to be the next logical step.
    For the moment, being able to stop anywhere to charge your car is obviously great, but I wonder how green the electricity at these points is nowadays.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I agree, we’re likely to see a lot of wireless charging in the future. There is a small (<10%) efficiency loss but as long as people are willing to pay a bit more for the convenience and as long as the input electricity is green I don't see a problem.

      Electricity is greener today that it was in the past. And it will be greener in the future than it is today. It's a process.

  • Location of plug outlets is an important factor; just because there are 475 million 110V plugs they are not all great choices. If the plug is in-doors and needs an extension cord, there will be a voltage drop, related to the light of the cord. Not all 110V plugs instalations have GFI, which is a great safety feature should cord, or plug be exposed to elements. (Newer wiring should have CFI integrated already)

    If enough time (hours) are available, or just a partial capacity charge is required then slower (& cheaper) 110V power is an ideal solution. As prices of EV batteries drop over the next few years then 110V (1650 kW/h) will become less useful except for extreme emergencies as pack capacities increase. e.g. Tesla Model S (200-300 mile range) will take over 50 hours to charge on 110V plug. Chances are good that 120-200 mile range will be common for EVs in next five years! (65-80 mies is common range for Fit EV, Leaf, & 500e today)

  • Robert Wright

    You cannot plug your simple 110/120 volt Electric Vehicle charging cord into any common household receptacle; the receptacle used for charging your EV must be on a “dedicated circuit”. Every EV owner will need to ensure they have a dedicated circuit installed to support EV Charging; failure to do so may cause serious damage to the electrical circuit, electrical service, or cause a house fire. Electric Vehicle Charging Safety is a very serious matter and public safety should have been on the forefront of the Electric Vehicle Program; but unfortunately, electric vehicle charging safety has been widely overlooked by major stakeholders such as the U.S Department of Energy and manufacturers of electric vehicle support equipment (charging stations). Greenstar Concepts, LLC has been the voice of “safety” in this industry for several years now; we support the Electric Vehicle industry and believe the Electric Vehicle Program is vital to a cleaner environment. We just believe we can achieve our electric drive goals in a safer and much much more responsible manner!

  • Ronald Brakels

    In Europe or Australia it should take about nine hours or less to fully charge a Nissian Leaf sized battery from zero kilometers range to full charge from a perfectly ordinary power socket. So as long as the car can accept European standard current, there is even less of a need for people in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. to install special chargers at home.

  • Jim Nelson

    “you can plug into but at 8-10 Amps”

    Did you perhaps mean “you can plug into at 8-10 amps”? (note both changes)

    (I forbear to insert here a remark about clear, careful writing being more compelling than muddled, careless writing, or any rebuttal of the predicted yahoo retort that what one thinks the author meant to say is the only important thing and how the author actually expressed it is irrelevant. Also I would like to know your terms for pro-tobacco, pro-assault-weapon, and anti-abortion advertising, as I see that your Web host is also selling space to Americans for Prosperity to advertise opposition to a senator claimed to support a carbon tax (

    • Anothercoilgun

      1. Its a quote. Source of the quote is provided.

      2. “Into but at 8-10 amps” expresses limitation as opposed to a dedicated higher power charging station. “Into at 8-10 amps” would not convey common mains outlets as an alternative to dedicated stations.

      3. You did not include a closing parentheses. (I forbear…

    • Anothercoilgun seems to cover most of the responses I would have given.

      As far as the ads, our ads come through Google. I need a specific link to an ad in order to block it. I haven’t seen any of those ads, but if you are seeing them, please pass along the links so we can ban away!

  • Others

    Most people come home by 7 pm in the evening and start for office only the next day at 7 pm or later. In this 12 hours, easily a person can slow charge their EV using 120 volt socket and that will give a range of 50-60 miles or 2/3 of the range. So even the Apartments / Condos can provide a 120 volt charging socket near the parking lots.

    This way, the grid will be at full use even at night and the nuclear and wind power will be better used.

    Only when they have to go for long range, they may depend on Level-2 (240 V) or Level-3 (480 V) chargers.

    • The point about apts/condos is simply that many don’t have access to an outlet by default. The focus here was what’s in place right now.

    • Bob_Wallace

      A higher voltage (240 vac) smart outlet would shorten the hours and allow the grid to determine actual time of charging. That would be very valuable to grid operators.

      Charging could be spread out across the night or concentrated during the hours in which there is the best supply/demand ratio.

      Going to be really windy after 1AM? Charge all then.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Does anyone know if there is a standard for the high capacity connection. Just wondering if there needs to be 4,8,16(hopeful) different types of connectors at each “station”.

    • Bob_Wallace

      EV plugs have been standardized to some extent. I suspect we’re a bit early in the technology for things to settle down into ‘one plug does all’.

  • doug card

    This may be an issue, but its EASILY solvable for about 90% of us. It will get to the point quickly (a couple years at most) when all the restaurants will put chargers in. Denney’s, starbucks, etc. Most western apt complex’s have a laundry room. If you install chargers on the outside wall it would cast MAYBE $1000 per outlet for auto chargers and just like other vending machines, will pay for itself in a couple years.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We’re going to need chargers where people park overnight. About 40% of all US drivers don’t have access to an outlet (IIRC).

      I can’t believe it will be long before someone starts marketing a “smart outlet” that can meter electricity and vend it to EV owners. Park, plug in, swipe your card, and charging occurs. It would make sense if these were 240 vac.

      Put them in apartment parking lots, some in school/work parking lots, along the sidewalk where people park overnight.

      Set the system up so that the outlet pays a modest profit to the outlet owner and they will go in with private money.

      I think there’s less need for chargers at restaurants and shopping centers than some people assume. Where we need those chargers are along/close to our major travel routes.

      EV ranges aren’t going to stay below 100 miles. Few drivers pile on 150+ miles driving around town in a single day.

      Never leave home uncharged. Use public chargers on long trips.

    • Others

      I fully support your idea. In fact only the Level-2 charger will cost around $2,000 to buy and install, for the regular 120 Volt, it may be just few $100.

  • Craig

    All this time I’ve been assuming that it was not possible to charge from a normal power socket, and that if I bought an EV the distance I would be able to travel would be limited to half it’s range. I suspect that most people think the same. Why the hell have EV manufacturers not made any attempt to address this misunderstanding?

    • nanuk

      Because even 110v outlets are useless if there aren’t any in the places you park. Even if you assume you have one at home, ok, you can do your 16hr charge there (not nearly fast enough).

      Now try going to work, the library, the grocery store, a restaraunt, a sports arena. I’ve never seen any public parking lot that’s got outlets of any kind.

      Having 500 million 110v outlets around doesn’t help if 99.99% of them are indoors away from where you park. I want the situation to change, and I think it’s clear that it is starting to change, but there’s a long….long way to go.

      • For the average person, nothing more is needed than what they have right now. Get home, plug in, and that’s enough.

        • agelbert

          Exactly. A top quality extension cord is all you need. I have mentioned the fact that every home is a potential EV charging station before on this forum.
          And any electrician worth his salt can rig up a 240v setup for you.

          • You may have been one of the people who stimulated this reposting. 😀 Nudges in the comments do make a difference. 😀

          • I just need to remember to repost more of them!

          • agelbert

            Glad to be of service. :>)

      • patb2009

        up north most public parking lots have a 110 outlet, so you can plug in a block heater.

    • Believe me, I felt embarrassed to admit it, but I thought the same for a long time. The companies marketing EVs really do a *horrible* job marketing the convenience and affordability of fueling an EV. Get home, plug into the wall, and you’re done….

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