The new downtown Los Angeles Blink DC fast charger installed yesterday on the Mateo Street parking lot will allow the charge of an electric car in about half an hour. Compared to this, a Level 2 220V would take as long as 6 to 8 hours if you were to recharge a completely depleted battery pack. Adding to a row of ten Level 2 chargers in the parking lot, the Blink DC fast charger becomes the first fast charger in Los Angeles.
Technically Speaking. Fast chargers are part of the solution. An exponential step from the lowly Level 1 charge, our commonly used 110V “trickle charge”, it allows up to 450 volts of direct current with a maximum power output of 60 kW adjustable from 30kW. The CHAdeMO compliant fast charger has a maximum output current of 200 Amps with a minimum of 5, perfect for the last minute top offs. Electric cars, EV and plug-in hybrids, PHEV capable of using fast charges will be able to handle 200 Amps at 208 VAC, 89 Amps at 480 VAC or 74 Amps at 575 VAC downtown LA.
Making Strategic Sense Of Chargers. The strategic problem with chargers is where to place them. The city of Boulder, Colorado found that standard chargers conveniently located within the typical round-trip range of electric car drivers’ homes were not used as planned. Interestingly enough, the “inconvenience” of long time charges was deemed too long when drivers can do the same at home.
Fast chargers, however are part of the solution and could well extend driver’s commute and range beyond that of Level 2. Although fast chargers facilitate the time it takes to charge, it does come with a problem, it reduces a battery pack’s life span. So the trade off is time and battery management versus quick and shorter life span.
There are more solutions than problems in life, and it all depends on how we decide to tackle them. We are a society that favors one bold and sweeping movement to answer specific problems. But sometimes, answers come in different shades and shapes. Yes, electric vehicles, EV and plug-in hybrids, PHEV are not THE solutions for everyone, fast charging is also not THE only solution for every situation. With an intelligent mix of electric car sharing in busy urban areas, fast chargers, Level 2 and why not, wireless charging, we could have a comprehensive package solution for electric and plug-in hybrid drivers. See yesterday’s article: Mitsubishi i MiEV Shipped 100,000 To Peugeot where we talk about electric car sharing abroad.
In the meantime, we can only applaud Los Angeles finally getting its first Blink DC fast charger.