Park & Charge

Park & Charge

The Swiss concept for public charging facilities for electric road vehicles tries to make use of the existing network with a minimum of additional cost.  Several types of charging stations are already in use and their number will be expanded step by step.

Different charging systems being used

Several highly sophisticated charging stations including power metering and billing per chip cards or other sophisticated techniques have been proposed, but their relatively high investment cost - causing also high cost per kWh delivered - do not facilitate their widespread application.

The simplest solution certainly is the use of conventional outlets already installed for instance at restaurants, hotels, shopping centers etc., which can be used free of charge by clients. Since the amount of energy taken by the electric vehicles is relatively limited, the energy bill too is not very high, but the offer of charging possibilities can attract quite a lot of additional customers.

Another possibility is the use of private electricity outlets owned, for instance, by owners of electric vehicles who offer them to other drivers of electric vehicles also.  The number of these private charging possibilities has increased considerably since the introduction of a new three-wheel electric vehicle "Twike", whose drivers are very motivated to help each others.

An other important possibility are stations on public grounds where the user has to pay for the electricity used.  In order to avoid high cost of metering and billing, the concept "Park & Charge" has been developed.  It is based on lump-sum payment, combining low investment cost with low operation cost.

The concept of Park & Charge

To meet the proposed goals, an evaluation of debiting/obliterating methods and the respective automatic dispensers had been conducted.  It soon transpired that the best of all tested alternatives was a power outlet in the form of a simple, standardized electric power supply box, available off the shelf. It typically consists of a metal housing containing essentially 3 - 6 sockets, fed by 230 V tension, 10 or 16 A protected, with a FI-leakage protective switch. The user can obtain access to the recharging outlet with a special key, which is the same for all Park & Charge installations. Such simple 'Park & Charge' supply boxes are currently available either free-standing, or for wall-mounting.  For those applications, where the charging station should offer a higher design standard, another type with a thermoplastic casing has been developed.

Park & Charge: The simplest version of a distribution box (left) and another version with a more sophisticated design, but the same technical equipment (right)

To the chosen basic hardware, a correspondingly simple administrative infrastructure had to be matched.  The concept Park & Charge is based on a mere lump-sum energy imputation, i.e. no exact energy calculation per charge.  Investment and operating costs are very low and outweigh, for most applications, the advantages of high-tech solutions.

This system is finding more and more interest all over Switzerland. Until today, over 120  charging stations of this type have been installed. The growing number of participants has allowed to lower the price for each participant. Drivers of electric vehicles, which are organised in the so called "Electromobile Club of Switzerland" (ECS) are becoming increasingly involved in periodically controlling these charging facilities and to organize maintenance, if required.

The success of the Park & Charge-system in Switzerland has led to its introduction also in Germany.

500 charging stations listed

In order to be of real help for electric vehicle drivers, these charging stations must not only be installed, but the places must also be made known.  Thus, under the project name "LEMnet", a complete list of all parking facilities has been established which comprises already some 500 charging locations in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

LEMnet: Sample page of an overview map with charging stations

This list does not only contain overviews maps of all locations, where charging stations are available (see sample page above), but also gives detailed information where the station can be found and what drivers can do close by during the time of recharging their vehicles (shopping, restaurants, cultural facilities etc., see sample pages below).  To be registrated in this list has, of course, also a promotional aspect for these shops.  In the development of this whole network several organizations that propagate electric vehicles, utilities, produces and MobilE, the international magazine for electric vehicles, work together.

LEMnet: Extract of the description of individual charging stations

The detailed list can be downloaded from LEMnet

LEMnet

 

Advantages of Park & Charge

  • Simple technique, thus less costs for components and installation
  • Less maintenance costs
  • Low overall costs for users and owners of charging stations
  • Security of operation (no electronics)
  • No standby energy consumption
  • Long lifetime
  • Low risk of intentional damage
  • Simple to use 

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