One unanticipated pleasure of working on this column is that people around the valley have emailed me questions. Lucy Larkin recently asked; “What do you do if your trip requires more mileage than the car can go on a charge?” Her question is very often asked by those considering the purchase of an electric drive vehicle. Our region of the state has a great story to tell because there are more high amperage Level 2 chargers here than in any other region of Washington. Plug-In North Central Washington is a local organization that has been active in planting electric car charging opportunities in Okanogan, Douglas and Chelan counties since 2012. They started by working with state and federal agencies to establish the Wenatchee to Everett section of the “West Coast Green Highway” which placed chargers in Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Stevens Pass, Skykomish, Sultan and Monroe. The next phase was an initiative that raised private money to purchase high amperage Level 2 chargers and partnered with business operators to “host” them. Currently there are six of these Mazama, Winthrop, Omak, Pateros, Chelan and Coles Corner. One additional site will be ready next month in Twisp and there are plans to have a site in Waterville by this summer.
I don’t want to get “too deep in the weeds” here, but some description of the charging types that are available will be helpful. Here goes. Level 1 provides 120 volts AC delivered at between 15 and 30 amps. In fact, it is our ordinary household outlet. It is the slowest method of charging but is available in almost every building in the country. Level 2 charging is 240 volts AC delivered at between 30 and 80 amps.
When delivered at 60 amps or higher this charging is described as high amperage L2, abbreviated as “haL2.” Both L2 and haL2 chargers connect to the vehicle with a standard J1772 connector. As of today, all commercially manufactured EVs include this J1772 connection. Level 3 delivers 480 volts DC at between 50 and 120 amps. This is the fastest charging and uses a specialized connector that is often available as an option when ordering an electric drive vehicle.
So, let’s answer Lucy’s question. Most EV charging is done overnight at the owner’s home. “Recargo” and “Plugshare” are two popular apps used to find charging opportunities when your drive takes you away from home and you need a place to charge. In North Central Washington you will find plenty of charging opportunities, with more being added every month.
Jack Anderson is a volunteer Project Manager for Plug-In NCW. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org