For many industries, public infrastructure does not always initially keep up with the private sector; however, the electric vehicle charging station industry hopes to disrupt this notion. Although early EV owners frequently had to rely on their own power, or install level 2 chargers in their homes, already the public charging infrastructure has rapidly caught up to the needs of EV drivers. As of late 2021, there were over 43,000 public charging stations in the United States alone! Read on to learn about the differences between public and private EV charging as well as the importance of both.
Private EV Charging Stations
While private EV charging initially sounds like it’s limited to private residences, private charging is actually a rather expansive network. Private EV charging is any station that is not accessible by the general public. While the line can sometimes get blurry, if offices, multifamily properties multi-unit dwellings or other businesses limit their charging access to only residents/employees that use the buildings, then the charging is still considered private.
Private Charging Pros
So why would a complex or business potentially limit revenue by restricting charging access? While some companies use it as a perk, there is also a practical reason for these limitations: Many buildings were not designed with EV charging demands in mind. While this is also a con, limiting charging to private use means there will be less competition for the available power. Additionally, less use often means less wear and tear, leading to less overall maintenance for charging stations. And just like private charging in the home, private charging means station operators have full knowledge of who is using their chargers. Finally, drivers who have access to private charging often spend less on charging than those without.
Private Charging Cons
There are drawbacks to privatized charging for electric cars. As mentioned, many buildings do not have scaled power capacity to support huge charging demands, which means that potential revenue is limited. And for businesses offering EV charging as a perk, there may be no revenue, or even service at a loss. Another con of private charging is upfront cost; private station installation is not always eligible for the same incentives as public charging infrastructure. Considering the upfront cost may not be offset by as much potential long-term station revenue, some businesses simply cannot justify installing a private station.
Public EV Charging Stations
Public EV charging is in large part the future of the EV industry; in order for there to be sustained growth in the EV sector public charging needs to be robust and accessible. Whether utilized at dedicated charging stations (like those found at existing gas stations), or at businesses and multi-unit dwellings offering public access, public EV charging is any station that allows the general public to charge their vehicles. Like with private charging, the definition can vary a little depending on the location, but in general, public charging is accessible without restrictions on which drivers can utilize the station.
Public Charging Pros
There are numerous benefits to public EV charging. Much of public charging infrastructure is bolstered by financial incentives including tax breaks and financial assistance on both the federal and the state levels. Public charging also means widespread utilization. Station utilization, while net-positive from a sustainability perspective (when compared to gas-powered vehicles), also means more revenue. The increased utilization and subsequent revenue can snowball into expanded opportunities (i.e., larger networks, more powerful chargers and more) for owners.
Public Charging Cons
Because many drivers rely on public charging for more spontaneous needs, speed will be a necessity: that means level 3, or DC charging, which also means far larger upfront cost. Owners can also incur cost through increased station maintenance due to use. However, as it stands one of the greatest obstacles for public EV charging is the existing power infrastructure needed to support the demands of these high-powered electric vehicles. In comes smart EV charging.
Why Smart Charging Matters
Smart charging for EVs enables communication between vehicle, charging station and power grid to optimize the implementation of power. This intelligent form of charging is undoubtedly useful for private charging. For example, you can save on energy costs by setting your vehicle to charge outside of peak hours. However, public charging not only benefits from but almost demands smart charging solutions.
Because utilization has the potential to become much higher at public stations, and keeping in mind many power supplies were not designed with EV charging in mind, each station needs to have the intelligence to distribute power efficiently. Smart charging also enables more ports per station due to the network’s ability to divide electricity. All in all: Smart charging is important for private charging and absolutely critical for public charging.
Sustainable growth for both public and private EV charging is critical for the success of the industry. As electric cars become more common, private charging in peoples’ homes will undoubtedly follow suit. However, with smart charging for the public sphere, the industry can ensure reliable and equitable power for EV drivers of the present and future. EV Connect provides the charging hardware, software and service to help power the electric vehicle industry down the road for years to come!
U.S. Department of Energy: Alternative Fuels Data Center – Developing Infrastructure To Charge Plug-In Electric Vehicles