New generation of level 2 charging stations for electric vehicles in parking areas
20 September 2018
Charging stations for electric vehicles have stated to be deployed in many areas namely in private residential parking areas. Many chargers have also been installed in commercial and public areas, but these are often very similar to the ones we find in personal dwellings. But commercial and public areas deserve to be addressed specifically in order to ensure adequate performance of the charging infrastructure. A new generation of charging stations are now presented.
Level 2 (240V) charging for electric vehicles (EVs) in parking lots poses specific challenges, primarily in terms of power supply. This aspect usually requires a trench to route the feeder pipes, which requires to open the ground and redo or create concrete pads. Once the means for energizing are met, the other challenges are:
The installation of the charging stations on pedestals;
The protection of these pedestals against impacts;
The maintenance and access control of the charging stations.
Also, the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles in parking lots can be made complicated in areas where there is significant snow accumulation during winter. In this case, cable management and protection of the connector at the end of the cable must also be considered. With the Beta30™, MCM Integration has developed an original solution that simplifies the management of level 2 chargers in parking areas, first by including an automatic cable rewind system based on gravity. The concept is especially appropriate for the multi-dwellings residential parking areas, as well as commercial or institutional areas.
The problem of cables on the ground
Chargers for electric vehicles generally come with a connection cable 18 to 25 feet (6 to 8 m) long. This cable should preferably be wound on a hook to prevent it from laying on the ground where it can get damaged, stuck under a wheel, make someone trip passing by, or when someone wants to connect an EV.
Where winters require snow removal around the charging stations, cables may be invisible under the snow and may be therefore be damaged or even pulled away by snow removal equipment. The following photos illustrate typical situations for charging in parking lots which could be troublesome at times.
In some case, an accidental removal of a charging cable may also remove the charger from its holder and create hazardous conditions and possibly a short circuit. The damage is then considerable since the charger must be replaced or reinstalled and reconnected on its pedestal, if still usable. Shopping centre parking lots are good examples of places where charging cables should never lay on the ground.
Cables laying on the ground pose another problem since they accumulate dirt that makes them difficult to handle without getting soiled. Users are then less inclined to wind them up on the hook intended to store them at a certain height. In addition, the simple weight of the cable resting on the ground can pull the connector down into the snow during winter, rendering it useless.
The cable management system proposed by the Beta30 is based on the use of a mobile gravity pulley that slides up and down the housing, so that the cable always has an appropriate tension, regardless of the length outside the housing. When the cable is extended to its full available length, about 12 ft. 6 in. (3.8 m), the internal weight of the pulley is slightly greater than the weight of the part of the cable outside the housing. So, when you disconnect the vehicle, holding the connector in your hand is enough to put the internal pulley in a downward motion, which allows the cable to automatically return inside the enclosure. Unlike spring rewind systems, the gravity pulley system remains reliable with time. This system is also designed not to get stuck in icy or snowy conditions. The following figures show the components of the cable rewind system. Each enclosure includes two independent systems for managing the cable of each charger.
The vulnerability of the connector
Do not allow snow to accumulate at the connector extremity, as ice will form and prevent it from working properly. The connector is then out of service until someone comes to deice it. In addition, an iced connector can damage the vehicle’s plug, preventing the vehicle to be charged until its plug is repaired or replaced.
The solution developed by MCM Integration, the automatic cable rewind system, is built inside a slim enclosure about 9 ft 6 in high (3 m), into which, mobile pulleys moves vertically to offset the weight of the cable entering and leaving the enclosure. Thus, with the concept proposed by MCM Integration, the cables will not normally come in contact with the ground. Once the cable has pulled itself into the housing, the connector is in an ideal position, head down and away from the ground, avoiding the second most common problem with chargers, the iced or damaged connector.
Thanks to this innovative approach, MCM Integration improves the daily use of Level 2 charging stations, protecting both the cables and the connectors, ensuring a longer lifetime. But at MCM Integration, innovation doesn’t stop there.
Two chargers in one enclosure
MCM Integration’s Beat30 enclosure includes two completely independent chargers, allowing two vehicles to be charged at the same time and the enclosure to be placed between two parking spaces. This makes the chargers less vulnerable to impacts from vehicles backing up. The height of the enclosure also makes it easy to see, even when vehicles are parked in front. In addition, the upper part of the Beta30 has a tip that can be illuminated (option) to make it easier to locate the chargers. Regarding the actual capacity of the chargers offered, it can be from 20 to 40 amperes (A) to 240 volts (V). The standard is generally 30 A, which requires a power supply with a capacity of 40 or 50 A. The 20A chargers require a 30 A power supply but will produce a slightly slower charge, in the order of 66% (20/30). The 30 A chargers are therefore 50% faster than 20 A chargers. MCM Integration offers chargers with a capacity of 30 A, 240 V, but can include other chargers on request.
Smart chargers or controlled access
MCM Integration also offers “smart” chargers, which include an automatic payment interface with a pre-registered bank card, included in the charger application itself. Smart chargers offered by MCM Integration generally require access to a wireless Wi-Fi network. It is, therefore, preferable to locate the charger boxes so that they can communicate effectively with the building’s Wi-Fi network. Another way to manage the access or use of the chargers offered by MCM Integration is the RFID option, the popular radio frequency identification system. This system is frequently used to control access to buildings. In this case, it must then be extended to the enclosures containing the charging stations. The connector housings are then equipped with a locking system which allows unlocking with the reprogrammed RFID device already used to access the building. The charging stations do not then need to be equipped with a smart module if it is only the access that we wish to control.
Length required for cables
Regarding the cable length required to effectively connect an electric vehicle in a parking area, there are two situations:
The first is where vehicles park perpendicular (or transversely) to the edge behind which the loaders are installed. This is usually the case in an off-street parking lot.
The second is when vehicles are parked in parallel (or longitudinally) with the curb, as is usually the case in the streets.
In a perpendicular mode parking lot, it is possible to park the vehicle in a way to have its plug closer to the charger, which is not always possible in parallel mode along the streets. Therefore, in a parking lot, the charger cables may be shorter than for street chargers. The charger offered by MCM Integration – for example, the Beta30 model, recommended for parking areas, allows for approximately 12 ft 6 in (3.8 m) of cable out, which is more than adequate in normal parking areas, provided one parks properly.
On-street refill boxes soon available
For an installation along a city avenue, MCM Integration offers slightly larger enclosures which will allow approximately 18 ft of cable out (about 6 m), which is adequate for vehicles parked longitudinally along the street, regardless of where the plug on the vehicle is located. About this, please see the MCM Beta S™ model. For the Beta30 model, the option with longer cables extending up to 18 ft (about 6 m) is available as an option.
Since 1999, MCM Integration has been designing, manufacturing and maintaining aesthetic technical enclosures for the integration of energy and telecommunications networks in urban areas. With thousands of installations in operation in dozens of municipalities, MCM Integration has developed expertise in the design of this type of street furniture. The intention behind this quest for excellence has always been to promote and preserve the quality of the urban environment, within the constraints imposed by the proliferation of technologies.
MCM Integration is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of highly functional products dedicated to urban technical networks (UTN). Our main purpose is to develop innovative solutions that will contribute to improve the quality of the functional environment in urban and suburban settings.