Wireless EV Charging
One of the pains of electric vehicles now is the need to plug in your vehicle overnight to charge while you are home. With that comes forgetting to plug in your vehicle overnight to charge which can result in little to no use of your vehicle the next day. This issue is typically solved by checking or double checking the plug is connected for your own sake.
Now there is at least one solution that is brought to market by Plugless Power. This is not an advertisement for Plugless Power or any connection at all. With the introduction of wireless charger, the electric vehicle just needs to be driven over the charger to start the charging process. At the time of this article, the electric vehicles currently available for their wireless charger include Tesla S, Chevrolet Volt and Volt Gen 2, Nissan Leaf and the Cadillac ELR.
What is Wireless Charging
The wireless type of battery charge is called inductive charging and is still new in the consumer market. This, however, is the first inductive charging solution for electric vehicles, that I am aware of. One of the first consumer products that have made the inductive charging popular is the cell phone.
The inductive charging system for electric vehicles consists of three components, vehicle adapter, parking pad, and control panel. The vehicle adapter is attached underneath the electric vehicle. The parking pad is secured on top of the concrete in either your garage or driveway and is situated in a place to align with the vehicle adapter once the vehicle is parked. For garage installations, the control panel is used to provide the power to the parking pad once the vehicle is parked above. The control panel indicates to the driver if they need to keep moving forward and finally when the vehicle adapter and parking pad are aligned. For driveway or parking lot installations the pedestal mount can be used to provide a mounting surface for the control panel when a suitable wall is not available.
One of the first questions I had with inductive charging is whether it is powerful enough to charge the vehicle one short charging periods. The inductive charging power is rated for 3.3 kW of continuous use on 208 to 240 VAC input voltage. This is equivalent to the wired level 2 charging station. They recommend using a dedicated 30 amp circuit rated for continuous use on your service panel breaker.
If this makes you cringe a bit then make sure to just pass the electrical installation information on to your certified electrician to install. They will take care of the electrical wiring and service panel installation for you. If you have already planned to have either a large appliance or 240-volt receptacle installed in your garage, the control panel can be installed without the need to hire an electrician.
Plugless Power does provide the electrical installation information and what to expect. It details information like the placement of the outlet for the control panel, the NEMA receptacle for indoor use and hardwiring instruction to-do list for outdoor installations.
It is worth noting that the electric vehicle can still be plugged in without any issues when away from the wireless charger. Also, the vehicle adapter can be removed if you chose to stop using the wireless charger for some reason.
Is Wireless Charging Safe?
The idea of having the same vehicle in the installed location all the time is a little short-sighted. Ideally, yes the electric vehicle should be the one that ends up there but life has a way of changing plans. So if work schedules change and there happens to be another family member who parks in that spot, fear not. One of the safety features is that the parking pad automatically detects, what they describe as a foreign object, which really means another vehicle that does not have the adapter installed. As you probably can imagine to someone who is not used to the parking pad fastened to the garage floor may end up running it over. As it turns out the pad can withstand up to 1500 pounds of wheel load. This is not bad considering when looking at the Nissan Leaf with a curb weight listed as 3300 pounds or 825 pounds at each wheel. The only restriction that I see is that you cannot drive over it with a full-sized pickup truck, cargo van, or extended mini-vans, which can be over 6000 pound curb weight.
Is Wireless Charging Safe… Outdoors?
The parking pad is stated to be able to charge for rain, snow, sleet, and mud. The reason for the weather ratings is due to the parking pad enclosure is rated as a NEMA 4. For those who are not familiar with NEMA ratings, these are standard ingress protection from water and dust. The NEMA 4 rating is equivalent to the IP, or ingress protection, a rating of IP66. I only expand on this due to an easier explanation that IP ratings have over NEMA ratings, in that the two digits indicate the level of ingress protection from dust and them water. To break it down IP66 rating means that the enclosure is totally protected against dust with the first 6, and the final 6 indicates that the enclosure is protected from strong jets of water. There are only two water ingress digits higher than 6 which provide protection from temporary, 7, and prolonged submersion, 8.
Whether you have a wireless charging station installed in your garage or outdoors any vehicle can still use that parking spot. Especially for the outdoor installation, the wireless charging space doesn’t look any different than any other spaces. This is why it is always a good idea to identify that this is an electric vehicle charging location. Take a look at this electric vehicle charging sign that would let other driver’s know that this is a charging space. This still applies to an indoor as a guest may park in your electric vehicle charging spot not knowing that they are stopping you from charging. Another option to use an electric vehicle charging stencil to permanently identify the charging spot for all to see.
I hope that this has provided you more information about the wireless charging that Plugless Power has developed. Keep in mind that this information is provided so that you are aware of the latest products in the electric vehicle world. Check out the Plugless Quick Guide PDF for information on the Plugless requirements.
Check out the videos below for more information on inductive charging.
Inductive Charging Explained