Charging an EV at a Blink! DC3 fast charger in Lake City.

While having an Electric Vehicle (EV) is a great eco-friendly alternative to using gas or diesel power there are a few precautions you’ll want to read about before you pick up your personal EV.

Home Chargers

I only used the normal power outlets at home, which charged about 80 percent of the battery. It can take around 20 hours to charge many EV’s off grounded outlets from empty to full (less if you’re partial charging). And don’t think of using an extension cord if there’s no close outlet, the EV owner’s manuals I read have had warnings for plugging cars into extension cords.

While normal wall outlets don’t charge cars quickly, it’s cheaper than the investment into a Level 2 charger; which can cost between $500 and $1,000 for a charger (excuse me, the technical term is “Electric Vehicle Service Equipment”…), plus the additional amount for a trusted contractor to install and ensure your house is electrically equipped for the charger. Updates to breaker panels may be needed to ensure you are properly and safely power your new EV.

Lastly, check with your local energy company to ensure that you’re taking power from the greenest sources they have available. Though some fees may apply, based off your energy provider, it’s productive to ensure your eco-friendly car uses eco-friendly energy sources.

Public Chargers

The 2015 Mitsubishi iMiEV is using a Blink! Charger at the Fred Meyer in Lake City.
The 2015 Mitsubishi iMiEV is using a Blink! Charger at the Fred Meyer in Lake City.

If you’re looking for an on the go charging station, then there’s tons of apps out there to help you out. The one I ended up using the most was Blink! charging stations, as it was user friendly. You can charge at all of their touch-pad equipped charging ports, many in area Fred Meyer parking lots – except for the one in Marysville…

Dangers to using the public charging ports include: people using EV Charge Only parking spots to park closer to the door, broken touch pads (call the number on the side of the charger for a remote start from a customer service rep!), and jerks who think it’ll be funny to cancel your charge when you pop into the store for something.

However, there are also positives, including people willing to just give you top-off your charge off their account because the pad’s broken, but the card-scanner works… When was the last time a stranger gave you the money for a full tank of gas?

Of course, the most glaring problem is that there aren’t always chargers around or accessible. During one night’s quest for a Charger, I encountered 3 charging stations attached to closed stores, one upon which a group of young hooligans gathered round, and even some that were on my app but not installed yet (the most helpful thing I’ve ever encountered).

Of course, the most glaring problem is that there aren’t always chargers around or accessible. During one night’s quest for a Charger, I encountered 3 charging stations attached to closed stores, one upon which a group of young hooligans gathered round, and even some that were on my app but not installed yet (the most helpful thing I’ve ever encountered).

If you’re planning on making trips out of the city proper, take my advice and take your fuel-powered vehicle. We may have a plethora of EV chargers in the Eastside and Seattle areas, but head out of those areas and you may be more hard pressed to find a charge.

On a trip back from Marysville, my EV ran out of battery in my quest for a charging port. Luckily it was within warranty and I was able to get a quick lift with a very friendly Iraqi tow truck driver to the nearest Blink! port. Easy, breezy, and back at home (a lot later than I was hoping).

Planning for an EV arrival

If you plan on getting an EV, the biggest piece of advice I can give is this: Go through all the local EV public charging companies, purchase their charging card/membership, and hold onto them religiously.

http://www.blinknetwork.com/blinkMap.html

http://www.plugshare.com/

http://www.chargepoint.com/

Some public chargers do not come with touch screens to enter phone-purchased codes and require some sort of purchase car – either from the store or a membership card from the specific company.

Memberships to the various companies is usually free, along with a few free cards to help you start charging at their locations. Take my advice, join them as soon as you decide to get an EV and before you pick it up.

* * *

I hope that you all can learn from, and laugh at, my experiences with EV’s in order to have an easy, breezy EV experience.

SHARE
Previous articleFirst year of the drive = heaven
Next articleThe 2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring
Deanna Isaacs the owner, editor-in-chief and lead journalist at The Auto Reporter. She graduated from the University of Washington's Communication department in 2014 with a BA in Journalism. She enjoys sports cars, working on her classic two-seaters and long drives where she can annoy the husband. You can reach Deanna Isaacs using the Contact Us form: https://www.theautoreporter.com/contact/.