Electrify America Has New Labels for Electric Vehicle Charging

A Girls Guide To Cars | Electrify America Has New Labels For Electric Vehicle Charging - Agirlsguidetocars Logotype Color Web Transparentbg 16X9 1

What’s in a name?  Electrify America knows it can either identify something, or confuse you.

At the gas station, it’s easy. Regular has less octane and costs less per gallon than Super, Plus, Extra or Premium (depending on brand), and your owner’s manual tells you which octane is best for your vehicle to operate most efficiently. With an electric car, it’s not so easy, but one of the largest charging networks in the country – Electrify America – wants to change that, with a new system of names referring to the speed and power of each charging unit.

It’s designed to be user friendly, especially because many EV owners aren’t sure of the speed and power of various charging units we plug into, which charging speed and power is best for the vehicle, or for for low long you need to charge to boost driving range enough to get to grandma’s house.

The current labeling system is both utterly technical and completely confusing, with Level 1 and Level 2 charging, also called CHAdeMO and CCS.  In other words – huh?

As with gas octane, EV charging labels refer to power level, and therefore the length of charging time. Not cost, though, since that varies by the state, city and utility providing the power, even time of day you power up, since some utilities offer lower rates for off-peak use, which is further confusing still.

As a skier, I know that trails in North America are marked green for beginners, blue for intermediate slopes and speeds, black for challenging experts, and double-black for OMG-you’re-kidding, and choose accordingly, depending on conditions and whether I’m with my grandkids.

It would have been easy for Electrify America to re-label charging units with a simple Regular, Faster and Fastest, or something similar and instantly recognizable. Instead, the new “regular” stays as CHAdeMO, faster becomes Ultra Fast, and fastest becomes Hyper Fast.

Related: Charging an Electric Car is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

New Labeling Hopes To Make Charging Levels Easier To Recognize. Photo: Electrify America

New labeling hopes to make charging levels easier to recognize. Photo: Electrify America

 Here’s what it all Means when Filling up at Electrify America

Blue is Low, or CHAdeMO

CHAdeMO is for low-level charging (Level 1), comparable to ordinary household current to run your hair dryer or vacuum.  On such low-level charging – up to 50kW – it can take as much as eight hours to fully recharge your vehicle.  That works for most of us – plug it in overnight, and it’s fully charged and ready to go in the morning for another day of driving.

Related: Grab A Coffee With Friends While Charging Your Electric Vehicle

Blue Label. Photo: Electrify America

Blue label. Photo: Electrify America

Teal is Ultra-Fast

Ultra Fast (Level 2 and CCS) ups the ante from 110 volts (hair dryer) to 220 (the freezer or power tools in the garage) and up to 150kW.  So the same vehicle will recharge in approximately half the time – four hours, instead of eight.  Most EV buyers upgrade from the lower and slower system that normally comes with the vehicle to the higher-price, higher-power Level 2 chargers for their garage, especially if their garage already is equipped with higher-capacity voltage for those high-power appliances.

But since Electrify America chargers are normally at highway rest stops, shopping mall and museum parking lots, even Ultra Fast may not be convenient for many.

Related: MPGe, kWh, 4xe? Everything You Need to Know About Electric Car Lingo

Teal Label. Photo: Electrify America

Teal label. Photo: Electrify America

Green is the Fastest

The top Hyper Fast (also Level 2 and CCS) is only for occasional usage.  This provides up to 350kW, and approximately 80% of full battery power in under one hour.  It’s not meant for regular use, since it depletes the life of the battery.  It’s meant to give you a fast boost of range when you are running low. Think of it as that two gallons of “insurance” you pump into an almost-empty pre-paid fuel rental car before you return it, to make sure you can get back to the airport (as I did recently).

Depending on your particular EV model, the new Ultra Fast provides around 9 miles of range per minute of charging, and Hyper Fast provides about 20 miles of range per minute of charging.

Related: Test Drive Electric Cars, E-Bikes and E-Scooters at Electrify Expo

Green Label. Photo: Electrify America

Green label. Photo: Electrify America

Like ski/snowboard trails, the new Electrify America labeling system also is color coded – blue for regular, and green for faster and fastest – er – Ultra and Hyper.  And there are cute little icons of lightening bolts to further indicate the speed and power of each unit – one, two or three, accordingly.

On top of that, Electrify America is changing how two vehicles using the same charging unit to power up more efficiently.

It’s called “Balanced Charging”, designed to ensure that each EV gets the maximum kilowatts.  Without getting too technical, the new system gives the first vehicle charged in to a “cabinet” full charging power, and reduces the capacity delivered to the second vehicle until the first one is pretty much done charging. So here’s a tip – always be the first vehicle plugged in to an Electrify America charging unit, not the second one.

The new system also simplifies payment, with tap-and-go capabilities for members, and credit/debit terminals for non-member guests.  And new, updated cabinets add a QR code and make the help-line phone number more prominent. In addition to Electrify America stations in the USA, the new system also will be used by Electrify Canada.

The company also is expanding its network of charging systems to 1,800 Ultra Fast and 100,000 lower level chargers by 2026.

Plan on adding the new names to your EV vocabulary, since these brand names are unlikely to be adopted by competing manufacturers and suppliers of EV charging systems, which include ChargePoint, JuiceBar, Leviton, AmpUp, Wallbox, NovaCharge, Juice Americas, EvoCharge and EV Connect.

 

Evelyn Kanter has been reporting about safety, value and destinations for longer than she cares to admit publicly, first... More about Evelyn Kanter

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