Electric vehicles are on the horizon – that much is clear, but the infrastructure to make them practical is still elusive at best. One of the things that is required is a charging station, and you can’t (yet) just walk into Walmart and pick one of those up. This week, Lowe’s announced that it’s going to be a grass roots participator in the roll-out of GE’s new WattStation Wall Mount
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station. The announcement was made at the Plug-In
2011 Conference and Exposition – and make no mistake, this is a big deal. The roll-out will be slow, but methodical and well-calculated, beginning with just 5 stores in California (where else!) around
August. After that it will scale up to 60 stores during September. To have these EV chargers in 60 stores in just two months is pretty impressive and should help consumers think harder about picking up a new Nissan LEAF, Honda Fit EV, Toyota Prius PHV or RAV 4 EV, or Chevy Volt electric vehicles in 2012. In addition to retail store locations, Lowe’s will also be selling the new WattStation vehicle chargers online (presumably only the wall-mount version at first) at Lowes.com in September.
These are the self-standing versions.
GE WattStation is actually a pretty slick device. It looks like a truly futuristic gas pump, but it feeds a tethered electrical charge to your vehicle from 208-240VAC
circuit . It’s also what’s known as a Level 2 charger, which means that it can completely charge an electric car in
4-8 hours as opposed to the 12-15 hour (Level 1) overnight charge required by a standard 120V outlet. These numbers are based on a full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery. The unit is available in pedestal form or as a wall unit that can be installed in garages or even outdoors. The device is really built well and is NEMA 3R rated so it can stand up to rain,
sleet and even ice. That means you can expect to start seeing them outdoors in public places soon.
Realize that Lowe’s is really the first to jump on-board with the WattStation – it’s not available anywhere else yet – at least not with respect to a brick-and-mortar retailer. Lowe’s is also committing to install a range of commercial GE
WattStations at select stores for public use. Perhaps this is a move to encourage users of EVs to shop at their stores over rival Home Depot – at least until the chargers become more commonplace. The whole thing makes a lot of sense when you figure that GE manufactures the WattStation units in Mebane, NC, which is not too far from Lowe’s Mooresville, NC headquarters.
GE WattStation Wall Mount
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station
GE’s wall-mount version of the WattStation measures just 24″H x 16″W x 6″D. Because it’s so compact, it can be retrofitted into an existing home easily or built as part of a new construction home. You can even plug it into a NEMA 6-50 receptacle. The commercial version of the GE WattStation Wall Mount
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station is expected to cost between $3,000-7,000. The range is wide due to the number of options available to commercial users (n theory, these could be set up to accept credit card payments like a gas pump, etc). The much more simplified residential unit, like the kind that will be available for sale at Lowe’s, will cost between
With the advancement of charging technology, and its availability to consumers, the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) may actually expand into the marketplace sooner than expected. 2012 should be a big year for the electric car – and it’s likely that it will boom or bust based on the availability of charging stations and commercial acceptance.
For more information, visit www.geelectrical.com/ev.