Realistic EV Charging

Hi all,

I know EV charging has been discussed at various points in the past however as of now I can’t see that any real movement has been made on the issue (at least on the forum, I haven’t been the hackspace in a long time, more on that later). From reading the past discussions the sticking points seem to have largely been around cost and our limited electrical supply (which I believe we’ve improved upon given all of the recent electrical work?). With those two concerns in mind I’d like to suggest a more realistic way for VHS to establish EV infrastructure.

The most recent discussion on EV charging related to the installation of a Level 2 EV charger, which was 240 volt @ 30 amps. While level 2 charging is great for getting full batteries quickly, if that comes at the cost of only having charging available for a single vehicle this is a rather inefficient use of resources. Given this inefficiency I would suggest that VHS consider the expansion of Level 1 EV charging. Level 1 EV charging is quite literally plugging your car into a conventional wall outlet, which are 120 volts @ 15 amps. While these chargers provide much less charge per hour to a single car, the power required to operate one Level 2 charger could be used to operate four Level 1 chargers.

While many EV/PHEV owners will groan at the slow charging rate of Level 1 chargers which on average provide 8km/h vs the up to and beyond 30km/h that level 2 chargers offer, I suggest we consider the real world circumstances of this. While I don’t have data on the average length of visit for members at VHS, I imagine it to be roughly 2-3 hours. 3 hours of Level 1 charging would provide 24km of range which when you overlay a 24km radius from VHS that covers the vast majority of metro Vancouver.

If we were to be able to install four 120 volt, 15 amp sockets for the four street parking spots on the side of the building we would greatly improve our EV charging infrastructure and increase the number of members who could access the infrastructure at the same time.

Disclosure time: I am not a current member of VHS, my membership has lapsed following the pandemic and given personal financial circumstances I haven’t been able to rejoin VHS, so at this point I am basically some random person coming off the street into your house and telling you what you should do, feel free to ignore me for this reason alone. That said, as an avid EV advocate I hope VHS considers this for the future.

P.S, hope my abanda-loaned tools are still working well. Say hi to my circular saw for me.

The movement we’ve found has come in the way of some members being able to charge with infrastructure. The service type that we hoped to use is unfortunately inappropriate for level 2 charging.

The only way I see to offer this “to the street” would be to build on the city easement, which from my understanding, the curb-side program is currently paused.

That being said, to dig a trench, and provide infrastructure that did not cross a sidewalk would be a fairly large expense. I’m a huge proponent of “if you purchase a car, make it an EV” but dollar-for-dollar from VHS’s point of view, there are higher efficiencies as far as infrastructure to reduce carbon (if that’s your goal).

For instance, VHS does not have dedicated bike parking. As one of the larger proponents of EV charging being available at VHS, I still think, if we are trying to mitigate carbon emissions, we should provide covered bike parking first.

The other downside of level 1 charging in public infrastructure is it encourages the use of parking on shared property. Level 1 charging encourages people to stay longer than their original intended plan. I personally am in support of the parking initiative that did not pass earlier this year, so please understand that my position is biased toward that view.

While i’m not opposed to widespread level1 charging in places of employment, homes, etc, it would only add to parking problems, especially given that the parking outside of VHS is unmetered.

But this is just my opinion.

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So… Time to have a literal bikeshedding discussion? :laughing:

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One thing that also makes installing chargers on Woodland street difficult is that the lawn next to the space is technically city property; it’s not part of our lot.

Even if we did install the receptacles, I’m not so sure they’d be used for charging most of the time; there are routinely people who live in their vans who park next to VHS. I don’t have a problem with this since it’s a public street, but I also don’t necessarily want to encourage it either, and I definitely don’t think VHS should be providing electricity for free for this purpose.

Personally I think if we did have a level 2 charger at the space, we do have plenty of capacity available on our 240V 100A 3 phase service (Note: it is actually 240V delta, not 208/120V wye). This would mean that the north side of the space would be the designated EV charging location. Would it be for VHS members only, or would it be available to the public to use?

How to limit access to VHS members?

Xeal has cell phone app billing app.
I will reach out to them get more information.

A few points to consider.

  • VHS does not own this building.
  • A project like this will require approval from the Landord.
  • Any improvements made become the property of the LL.
  • The building can be sold at any time and VHS could be asked to leave.
  • This lot will likely be “developed” at some point in the future.

As an aside regarding the “abanda-loaned tools” you should fill out and email a copy of the loan policy form linked here specifying exactly what you’ve loaned and what you want to happen to your tools. VHS in no way is responsible for any member tools left at the space.

IANAL but I think this is not entirely correct.

If the building is sold the new owner would be responsible for fulfilling the terms of the existing lease. Additionally, there is no demolition clause in our lease, so we have at least until the end of 2023. We have the right to renew for another 5 years once we approach the end of our current lease.

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For the 120 volt plugs, they could easily be prevented from being used by the public by a simple padlock and locking cover, with the set of keys kept inside VHS and users signing out the keys to unlock the port. This would also allow for transparent usage tracking so that members who do use the ports would pay for the electricity used.

As for the location of the plugs, they need not even be out to the street. We could simply install them on the side of the building and most portable EVSE’s would have the length to reach that, or could use short extension cables. As for those cables crossing the side walk, the City of Vancouver adopted this proposal earlier this year which allows for the licensing of level 1 charging extension cables across sidewalks provided they’re covered by something like a plastic ramp protector.

Report - License for Covered Electrical Cords for Electric Vehicle Charging, Climate Emergency: 2021 Feb 9 (vancouver.ca)

The report doesn’t specify residential vs non-residential so it’s entirely possible we could utilize this new license.

So glad someone enjoyed that :wink:

While this might have a legal path forward, I’d say this is not being a good citizen for our neighbors, as it literally prioritizes car modality over walking/rolling.

We also have a mostly free (and under market rate when not) level 2 charger one block away, so it’s not like we are serving something that can’t be done.

I applaud what you are trying to do, but draping cables (ramp covered or not) across the sidewalk isn’t the answer.

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Here’s the previous EV charging thread: EV charging at VHS

Our electrician put a couple multi-purpose 240V outlets under that panel at the north-west corner of the building, for EV charging or whatever else. Unfortunately neither of my two EVSEs work with this power, because it is corner-tied delta 3phase with 240V between phases. Since it’s corner-tied, the phases all measure different voltages to ground, and the EVSEs give error lights and refuse to work. It’s possible that some other EVSE would work with this power. It’s also possible that a different combination of phases would work with my EVSE, but I only tested with the electrician wired up to the 240V outlet.

I still charge regularly (and reimburse VHS for the power) but I have to use the massive NEMA 14-50 extension cord running to the 240V outlets in the welding area (which are fed from our single-phase service).

Anyways just wanted to provide this context.

I would love to have more accessible EV charging at VHS. Charging while parked on the street seems sketchy to me, partly because on my car this would mean the charger would stick out of my car on the street side. If somebody wants to charge while parked on the street, I have no problem with that, but spending any money or effort for infrastructure for this purpose seems like a bad idea to me.

At the rear of VHS there is room for two cars to be parked. This is perfect for member EV charging IMO. You can already use 120V outlets just inside the sliding door, and various 240V sources are available there as well.

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Meow. I think it’s a 240 wye system. Not corner grounded delta. All phases measured 140v to ground. 140*/3 is 240v.

There’s a very low chance it’s delta!! ( I’m just a cat though. So maybe I’m wrong) I just chase electrons all day.

A lot of the 3 phase in the area is like that I think.

To get 3 phase that probably would work for you guys. Get a delta to wye step down transformer.

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When I measured the two phases wired to the 240V receptacles below the panel, their voltages-to-ground were not even close to equal. There is a third phase (not wired to these particular outlets) which I did not test.

Let’s investigate further!

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I saw on slack there was some discussion about a portable transformer that could sort out our CTD 3 Phase 240V into something a EVSE might be more happy to work with. Has there been any testing of that yet?

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