Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
A charging station is a great companion to a grid-tied PV system because it extends the financial and environmental savings of solar power to transportation, directly offsetting oil consumption and vehicle exhaust. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) options (available on most commercial chargers) enable system owners to control and track use of their chargers by issuing authentication cards.
There are three categories of EV charging stations:
Level 1: This is a simple device that plugs into a 120 VAC 20 A outlet. It looks like a conventional AC outlet but with one blade turned 90°. Typically delivered with the vehicle from the dealer or manufacturer, Level 1 charging stations are limited to a maximum of 2 kW and take 10 to 20 hours to fully charge an all-electric car.
Level 2: These charging stations are typically hardwired into a 240 VAC 40 A circuit and range in output from 6 to 12 kW. Level 2 charging stations can fully charge an electric vehicle in 3 to 8 hours. Installed on a dedicated circuit, they feed power to the vehicle’s built-in charger through an SAE J1772 plug that resembles the nozzle of a gas pump. Most residential and commercial charging stations currently available are Level 2.
Level 3: This is a high powered charger that delivers 20 kW or more of 300+ VDC power directly to the EV battery. These chargers require three-phase power and a large commercial service panel. Level 3 CHAdeMO connectors are an option on the Nissan Leaf and other electric vehicles, but Level 3 charging stations are best suited for commercial vehicle and fleet applications due to their size and cost.
Federal and state tax credits may be available to lower the cost of equipment and installation of charging stations.