New 480V Charging Stations allow about an Hour’s Drive between Half-Hour Charges

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 17th, 2012

Week in Review

They found a cure for the range anxiety of electric cars.  A fortune in infrastructure spending.  Now all they need to find a cure for is time anxiety (see First big piece of ‘Electric Highway’ gets juice by JEFF BARNARD posted 3/16/2012 on the Associated Press).

Spaced about every 25 miles, the stations allow a Nissan Leaf with a range of about 70 miles to miss one and still make it to the next. Electric car drivers will be able to recharge in about 20 minutes on the fast-chargers. The charge is free for now.

“I would say range-anxiety with these fast chargers will be nearly a non-issue for me,” said Justin Denley, who owns a Nissan Leaf and joined the caravan.

Inspired by the stations, his family is planning a trip from Medford to Portland, a distance of about 280 miles. Last summer, he took the family on a 120-mile trip to the coast and had to include an overnight stop at an RV park to charge up.

He expects the trip to Portland to take perhaps three hours longer than in a gas car, because the only chargers available for the last 100 miles are slower, level 2 chargers.

Level 1 car chargers use 110 volts, like a regular home outlet, and it can take an entire night to charge a vehicle. Level 2 uses 240 volts, like a home dryer or range, and can charge a car in three or four hours.

But Level 3, which uses 480 volts of direct current, makes en route charging feasible by boosting a Nissan Leaf’s 45-kilowatt battery from a 20 percent charge to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes.

Are we there yet?  Parents had better get used to hearing this.  Especially if they have to stop every two hours for a half hour rest to recharge the car.  If they’re at a charging stating with a Level 3 charger.  And if they are I hope they keep the kiddies away from it.  For they don’t even let licensed electricians to connect and disconnect a 480 volt circuit without the proper protective clothing.  It’s a little thing we call arc-flash.  The electrical flash as a high-voltage circuit connects or disconnects as the voltages makes the current jump the air gap.  Ionizing the air like a bolt of lightning.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a dangerous voltage to plug into then you might as well look for the charging stations with the motels attached.  Or an RV park where the family can bed down in their shoebox of a car.  To spend the night when their batteries recharge.  Adding an extra night or two to that afternoon drive.  A family drive that we made once upon a time in a gasoline-powered car.  Leaving and returning home on the same day.  On a single tank of gas.  Lucky for us these days we have time to kill in our lives.  Money to burn.  And children who love to sit quietly in a car for hours on end and have large bladders.

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