How fast are charging stations expected to grow nationally

Electric vehicle charging stations are becoming more popular as gas prices continue to rise.

In order for most people to drive electric vehicles, they prefer to have a reliable home charging unit that allows them to recharge their vehicles at night in the privacy of their own garages.

This means that the sales of such charging stations are growing. Further, the number of public charging stations is also growing so that more people have access to these stations while on the road.

Home Charging Stations

Pike Research, an independent firm charged with projecting the number of electric vehicle charging stations available in the United States over the next few years, predicts that 65 percent of the charging stations available will be home models. With a project of one million charge points in the United States by 2017, this means that there will be around 650,000 homes with EV charging stations by that date.

Home charging will be a larger force in the United States than Europe, where only 35 percent of the stations predicted to be installed will be in private homes.

Public Charging Stations

The remaining 350,000 charging stations nationally and most of the 7.7 million units predicted worldwide will be public stations. These stations will be available in growing numbers around the country and world as more people switch to EV capabilities and models become increasingly more affordable.

Charging station numbers have increased exponentially over the last few years. In April of 2011, there were only 750 public stations available nationwide, according to the Department of Energy. In March 2012, there were already 6,304 public stations available, an increase of over 800 percent.

The majority of these stations are in California, where electric vehicles have always been more popular than in the rest of the country. Currently, California has 1,661, or more than a quarter, of all the public charging stations in the country.

Two other states, Texas and Washington, have over 500 each. Florida follows closely with 463, Illinois with 219, Michigan with 451, New York with 231, and Oregon with 371.

Hurdles to Overcome

One problem that has plagued some states in installing electric vehicle charging stations is the classification of these sites by the state government. In most states, electricity can only be sold by a public utility, so classifying electric charging stations as such means they will fall under the same umbrella as the power companies, a move discouraged by most who want to see electric vehicle “fuel” readily available.

Only California currently has passed legislation to allow electric car charging sites to be excluded from the public utility ban.

Voltage regulation may also be an issue and raise the price for electric charging stations, both at home and publicly. It would take the average electric vehicle 17 hours to charge fully using a 110-volt system, so most electric charging stations jump to 220 or even 440 to speed up the process. Unfortunately, this means some rewiring if you are going to have a home charging station, and many may find this cost-prohibitive.

There is also the problem of room for everyone at the charging station, especially during peak times. Instead of the old “gasoline island” model that is currently being used, some are predicting a time when licensing for electric stations can be given to smaller chain stores.

This would allow customers to charge almost universally while they shop for groceries and snacks, just as the currently do when filling up with fuel.