Kinda-fast charging for the Chevy Volt will cost you only $500, to start

General Motors just announced today that they’ll be selling a 240-volt home charging unit for its Chevy Volt for $490 (U.S.). The company claims that the unit will let a homeowner charge up the car’s battery in four hours compared to about 10 if you just use a standard 120 volt outlet. Oh, but here’s the catch: It will cost you $1,495 to install. Ouch! That stings.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t buy one. I mean, overnight charging gives you plenty of time, and why put stress on your local distribution node by slurping up more than twice as much electricity in a shorter period? I imagine in a couple of years the price of these chargers will also fall significantly. Better to wait.

One thought on “Kinda-fast charging for the Chevy Volt will cost you only $500, to start”

  1. The key to installation cost is how far the garage or charge point is from the panel. The capacity for lots of amps comes from lots of thick copper which needs conduit, so you hope that the run is short. If your panel is in the garage or next to it you’re in good shape.

    You highlight a good point, which is that we don’t often consider how we should or could manage our own peaks of consumption. We could benefit greatly from reducing the peaks on the grid by storing power. While estimates for the cost of technology like flow-batteries is in the 17ยข/kWh range, that is one of the ways we could trim the costs of building the grid to match peak demand.

    After bringing my home consumption down significantly, my average draw on the grid could be a very low 1.5 amps on average. The reduction in copper from the requirements for a 200 amp service (3/0 gauge @ $14.50/m) to a 3 amp service would be huge. More like the wire going to your doorbell (18 gauge @ < $0.70/m). For each $1 billion that the provice spends on the grid, that could likely be reduced to $50 million instead.

    If we were able to implement home or neighbourhood storage, we could virtually eliminate all the arguments against intermittent sources of generation (typically wind), and reduce or eliminate the requirement for time-of-use pricing. Blackouts for a wide area would be eliminated, and power could be shifted between storage devices if necessary.

    However, back to the Volt… Instead of a 2,000 kg car we chose to charge an electric bicycle, we could all plug in almost any time we wanted without any significant effect on the grid. Plus it would charge more quickly from a normal 120v/15A outlet than the $2,000 Volt charger.

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