Monday, March 15, 2010

“Let’s have a tea while charging”

The big topic these days is charging infrastructure, a rather dry sounding term, but something with which everyone will soon be very familiar. It's what gets the kWh into your battery.

This is a very good article on the joining of five of Japan's strongest companies in the auto and electric power business forming a group to, among other things, set a standard for fast charging electric vehicles.

To recap... there are three levels of charging a plug-in vehicle.

Level 1 is your standard household current (120Volt) and charges at a rate of 4-6 miles per hour of charging.

Level 2 is like a dryer plug and charges at 240V 30 amps up to 90A. That's a range of from 18 miles to as much as 80 miles per hour of charge.

Level 1 & 2 have been standardized in the U.S. under something called SAE J1772. Level 3 has not been standardized.

Level 3 is what we're talking about here. It is 480V starting at 125A and going up to over 1,000A. This is serious power, not anything that you'd get at home. Level 3 charging is defined in this story as less than 30 minutes for a full charge.

Level 3 charging will allow for intercity driving with an EV and it'll allow for apartment and condo dwellers who may not have a place to park at night near electricity, to charge while at the coffee shop on the way to work.

"Each of these companies has some skin in the electric car game, and the firms announced a partnership this morning dubbed the CHAdeMO Association. As explained in today’s release, CHAdeMO (an abbreviation of “charge for moving,” as well as a pun translated to, “Let’s have a tea while charging”) is also the trade name for the quick-charging system that the group is proposing as a global industry standard."

As engineers will tell you, efficiency is king and standards promote efficiency.

I like the part about it being a global standard. The U.S., Asia and Europe have different standards for Level 1 & 2, but we'll all be better served by making Level 3 a global standard.

This group currently consists of only Japanese companies, but I hope that all the world's carmakers and charging infrastructure companies join to help create a single standard that all can use.


  1. Great Article Chris. Two questions.

    How does Level 3 charging change the Vehicle to Grid vision?

    With improved tech, could 240V ever reach Level three capability or is it inherently limited?

    -Ryan Pickering

  2. Paul,
    An amazing thing happened today. A turning point in a way. I got a card from my electric company (Edison) telling me how to begin to prepare for charging my car at home! Thank you for your work.
    Steve Goldsmith

  3. This sounds great. I really like the 30 minutes fast charge. One question, so if level one is 4-6 miles per hour, and level two is 18 to 80 miles per hour, then; how many miles per hour is level three? Anyone? Paul? Fast is Good. Standard is good too.

  4. Sorry Paul, proofread lesson!


  5. Joseph, Level 3 will give you at least 100 miles per half hour of charging, but could double that or more depending on the amperage and driving style.

  6. paul, my only concern as an EE is having 480V receptacles out there in the public where anyone can access them. There will have to be some safety provisions to make sure that children especially can't get at these receptacles, because 480VDC is enough to cause serious burn and possibly even fatalities.

    am also having bad thoughts of homeless people breaking in to these receptacles to plug in their george foreman grills (not kidding!), not realising that the voltage is deadly.

  7. Ryan,
    level 3 charging is for the WEALTHY traveler willing to pay for the convinence of rapid charging. The V2G vision charges for power removed from the grid and pays for power returned to the grid.
    Driveing an EV is not a free ride but it is a much more efficent use of energy to travel.

  8. We need to look at charging by induction! No open wire or connections, just park your car on top of an induction coil and the car is equipped with a 'recieving' coil, put 5 bucks in the meter and when you come back you're ready for another 2 hr drive. I see a whole new industry here.
    The technology is here, all we need is the industrial will to make it happen. The cars can have surface areas made of SIGS photo voltaic to continusally trickle charge the system during the day. We can be integrated and the utilities can still make money, weather they buy it or we sell it .... when there are consumers, there will be a business
    Jori Adank, The Electric Swiss

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