Are You Thinking About Electric Car Charging the Wrong Way? – CNET

This story is part of Plugged In, CNET’s hub for all things EV and the future of electrified mobility. From vehicle reviews to helpful hints and the latest industry news, we’ve got you covered.

If you have an EV or have ever shopped for one, you know the mantra that carmakers preach: Install an affordable Level 2 charge connector at your house and plug in overnight for ample miles of blissful clean range. But what if that’s just the selfish way? A new study out of Stanford University paints a more nuanced picture that urges greater use of daytime charging away from the suburban driveway. 

EV charging wait time
<span class="caption" readability="4"></p> <p>Charging away from home may engender a new mindset for EV intenders, but it&#8217;s still early enough in the history of electric cars to establish the best norms.</p> <p></span><span class="credit"> Getty Images </span>

The paper recommends daytime charging at workplace or public locations when power from solar is at its most plentiful and when the grid is less taxed than in the late afternoon or early evening. “In our results that was much better for the grid at the generation level in every different metric that we considered,” says Siobhan Powell, lead author of the study, which looked at scenarios in the 14-state Western Interconnection region of the US grid.

The benefits of the Stanford recommendation extend not only to avoiding grid collapse but also to charging EVs when the cleanest power is available with less reliance on expensive battery storage. This “make hay while the sun shines” model would be something of an about-face for traditional utility and Department of Energy charging dogma that urges charging overnight when demand is low, though solar output is nonexistent, a recommendation that dates back to a time when solar and wind power generation were still in their nascency.

<span class="caption" readability="4"></p> <p>Charging overnight at home (usually in a garage from the pages of Dwell) is typically suggested by carmakers as nirvana for the owner, but it may not be the best for the grid.</p> <p></span><span class="credit"> Tesla </span>

“At Stanford we work closely with a lot of utilities and this is one of their big concerns: What will charging do to their networks?” says Powell. The answer would seem to be nothing good, based a recent moment: On Aug. 25 California decided to ban the sale of new combustion cars by 2035; 13 days later a heatwave resulted in temporary signs on some California EV charging stations asking drivers to avoid using them between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

But Powell says that irony “also highlighted one of the upsides of EV charging, that it’s very flexible compared to other electric demand.” Most of us don’t have a choice of when we need air conditioning or when we need to cook dinner, but cars sit idle for the vast majority of their lives, allowing for highly flexible charging as long as a savvy owner or a smart grid embraces it.    

Daytime charging at work or in public locations also helps answer what is the least inconvenient truth about EVs: Over 30% of US households are in multifamily buildings where residents probably don’t have their own garage or driveway in which to install a private charging device. 

2019 Mercedes-Benz EQC
<span class="caption" readability="2"></p> <p>If only there were this many open chargers awaiting you at the average workplace.&nbsp;</p> <p></span><span class="credit"> Daimler AG </span>

One caveat to the study is that it was based on pre-COVID data, leaving open questions about how the return to office will settle out and what it means to the potential scale of at-work charging. But even if some offices remain sparsely attended, with a majority of EVs charging at home, the Stanford team says smart charging, where cars and the grid do an intelligent handshake, can ensure that cars charge at the cleanest time and not all at the same time. 

You may have noticed that many public or workplace charging locations share a major flaw: There are too few of them and too many are tethered to cars that are fully charged but waiting for the return of a driver who is busy working or shopping. Short of some convoluted robotic charge tender that even Elon Musk has given up on, the answer seems to be ubiquitous charging where virtually any place you can park a car you can charge it. That’s a massive undertaking the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the electrification of US homes a century ago. But public investment is building to bolster a vast infrastructure project where the business case for installing charge locations (PDF) is seen as challenging.


60 thoughts on “Are You Thinking About Electric Car Charging the Wrong Way? – CNET”
  1. Hi, just required you to know I he added your site to my Google bookmarks due to your layout. But seriously, I believe your internet site has 1 in the freshest theme I??ve came across. It extremely helps make reading your blog significantly easier.

  2. Good write-up, I?¦m regular visitor of one?¦s website, maintain up the nice operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  3. Awsome post and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to hire some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  4. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  5. I am extremely inspired along with your writing talents as well as with the structure in your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you modify it your self? Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

  6. naturally like your website but you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I will definitely come again again.

  7. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I¦ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my website 🙂

  8. Great website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get advice from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  9. I think this is among the most vital info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  10. Your style is so unique compared to many other people. Thank you for publishing when you have the opportunity,Guess I will just make this bookmarked.2

  11. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your website in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a huge portion of people will miss your great writing due to this problem.

  12. Great article and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you people have any ideea where to get some professional writers? Thx 🙂

  13. F*ckin’ awesome things here. I’m very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and i am looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  14. I’m not sure why but this web site is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  15. I’m not sure why but this website is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

Comments are closed.