Now that all the EV charging companies are lining up for a handout from the federal government to expand America’s charging infrastructure, this is our perfect opportunity to force them to implement something that will greatly improve the integrity of EV charging infrastructure and availability. American charger.
- GFCI 20 amp plugs with two outlets so people can charge their e-bikes or scooters for free if needed. If the charger fails then they can use the low speed 8/12Amp 120v charger that comes with most EVs and get a measly 3-4 miles per hour. This might save people time if they end up finding the tank empty in a pinch and no other charger is easier to use in the current range.
- There are multiple cameras on each charger to increase security and drastically reduce vandalism.
- A motion sensor and high-power LED lights turn on when people stop to charge or when there is warm body movement around the charger.
New York City is currently spending $25 million to install e-bike chargers for people to use on the streets of New York. I’m not sure how this works, although I understand why they do it. They hope to reduce fires caused by e-bike charging in suitable buildings, which now occur on average once a day. A lot of people died in these fires, so I want to explain why these fires happen, and why installing “e-bike chargers” on the streets of NYC isn’t going to work.
Why do electric bicycles catch fire
The main cause of e-bike fires is that many cheap Chinese e-bikes use counterfeit 18650 batteries. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to tell a genuine Chinese-made battery from a counterfeit just by looking at it. When you make lithium batteries, the battery manufacturing process is very intolerant of moisture and any tiny errors in the mix of elements that make up the 18650 “jelly roll”. Counterfeit batteries may look like genuine ones from Samsung, LG or Panasonic, and even perform similarly in terms of the wattage they deliver on a single charge, but they can be a ticking time bomb ready to explode.
I highly recommend buying your e-bike from a reputable US supplier such as Lunacycle, Pedego, or Rad Power Bikes (to name a few, there are many others). If you buy the cheapest e-bike you can find on Amazon or AliExpress\Alibaba, there is a good chance it has a counterfeit battery. This is the same problem that happened a few years ago with cheap “hoverboards” that caused so many fires and deaths in the US. This problem is solved because the “hoverboard craze” is over and they no longer allow hoverboards that are not UL certified into the US. UL certification for e-bikes and components doesn’t stop batteries from being counterfeited, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and if Chinese manufacturers are forced to use more expensive UL-certified components, they’re less likely to use counterfeit batteries. New York City prohibits the sale, lease, or possession of any electric bicycles that are not UL-listed. This might be a smart move.
Reduce vandalism and crime at charging locations
One of the biggest issues preventing widespread EV adoption in the US is that 25% of non-Tesla DC chargers don’t work. This is partly due to poor engineering (using Windows as an operating system is a bad move, not properly maintaining the charger is even worse), and partly due to ongoing vandalism. The best way to combat vandalism is to have an infrared/high-resolution camera running 24/7 on every high-speed charger. You will also need to post a sign stating that there are cameras on the premises and that vandalism is severely punished by law. Then, when a crime or vandalism occurs, the video evidence can be handed over to local authorities (in small towns, the local police may know the perpetrator). Each stall should have multiple cameras pointing in different directions so as to overlap the field of view.36 cameras on my rental property you can get 8-camera system, 8K resolution A 3Tb drive can store about 6 months of data for $250. Each camera costs about $31, and once I checked the price of installing fake cameras, it was more expensive to buy fake cameras than to install real ones (true story).
Motion sensor with high powered LED lights
Another great deterrent against vandalism and crime are motion sensors with high powered LED lights.These only use about 40 watts of power cost about $30 But they’re so bright that they can actually act as a deterrent to criminals. When criminals are secretly doing their dirty work, nothing stops them like turning on a light. The lights don’t need to be on all the time, they only come on when the car is close to charging or when someone is walking towards the charger. This simple and inexpensive addition to chargers will make people feel safer while charging and greatly reduce crime and vandalism on chargers.
Why Paying $25,000,000 for an Electric Bike Charger in NYC Won’t Work
In some cities around the world (such as copenhagen) You can install an e-bike charger and the bike and charger will not be stolen while charging. Not so in New York, and anyone who has commuted by bike in New York can tell you that it’s nearly impossible to stop any bike from being stolen on the street, no matter how crappy the bike looks. No matter how strong your lock is, no matter how crappy your bike looks, in many parts of New York City, bikes are routinely stolen. Consider that e-bikes are worth an order of magnitude more than regular bikes, and most e-bike chargers are also very difficult to protect against theft. You also have to be aware that most e-bike chargers are pretty low power (200-300 watts), so it takes a lot of time (many boring hours) to charge an e-bike.
The charger is broken, use the 120V plug to charge slowly
So it might happen every now and then that when you plug in the charger, your car has very little charge left and the charger doesn’t work. While this is uncommon for Tesla Superchargers, an estimated 25% of chargers from other companies fail. If you don’t have enough range to use your next set of chargers, you’re basically screwed. You’ll need to call a tow truck or find someone you know to drive an EV and an on-board inverter/charger, so you’re in an impossible situation.I always carry a 120 volt adapter in the car for this exact reason and I know I can always find a plug somewhere Then sat patiently waiting for my car to slowly charge. There is a 20 amp GFCI plug on every EV charger, so even if the screen and HVDC charging system are not working, you can do an emergency charge on any functional charger that still has power. It’s not an ideal solution, but it works.
Now is the time for us to do what makes the most sense in the public interest while building the charging infrastructure for the U.S. DC fast charging network. If the federal government allocates billions(B) to build this network, then they can also demand that these 3 simple requirements be followed. Public free 20 amp 120 volt plug, motion sensor LED flood lights and 24/7 cameras with built in infrared night vision.
That’s it, keep riding.