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bennelson 09-01-2010 10:53 AM

Charging at College
Hey folks!

Last night was the first evening of my 3-credit "INTRO TO RENEWABLE ENERGY" course at the county technical college.

Many of the state technical colleges offer hand's-on renewable energy training, but this is finally the FIRST class offered at my local college.

In front of the industrial building are four large PV arrays, and they have classes on renewable technology, but WHERE are the EV charging stations. The parking lot is HUGE, but there is no place to charge up.

Before the class started, the head of the department was there to give a welcome, thanks for being here, glad you could come to the first ever renewable energy class at the school.

I asked him - "I know this is gonna sound weird, but it's a legitimate question: where can I plug in my electric car?"
He gave me his card, and asked me to e-mail him that, saying that they have considered EV charging stations when they re-did the parking lot. (I had noticed the pavement was brand-new...) However, internal politics, cost, etc. prevented it from happening.

Now, of course, I really don't need an "EV Charging Station" per se... I just need a 15 amp 120 electric outlet.

Since I had arrived at class a bit early, I went to check out the PV panels, which are arrays on large post-mounts, just off the sidewalk. That included me figuring out where the other end of the cables went to, and I discovered where the PV disconnects were. Those connected to the outside of a maintenance building in front of the building I have class in.
Directly off from the PV disconnects was an outdoor electric outlet. Too bad it's across the road and 250 feet from the student parking.

However, I did notice in the few parking spaces at the maintenance building, that NONE of the spaces were actually reserved or marked for school vehicles only. In fact, I didn't see any reason why I COULDN'T PARK THERE. There was a gate (which was open) that lead to that area, and it was still open when I left at 9:45 in the evening.

From the end parking space to the PV electric outlet was only 25 or 30 feet, although there was a chain-link fence in the way. No reason why an extension cord couldn't go over or through the fence though.

Unfortunately, the other issue I have to deal with is that the school is almost exactly 20 miles away - My maximum range on 72V from a full charge, in perfect weather with all the stars aligned, taking the batteries down to 80% discharge.

Worse yet, the class runs through the end of the year - into the cold and snowy season, which lowers battery voltage and increases rolling resistance.

So, even if I COULD recharge at the school, I would still need JUST a LITTLE more juice for the range.
Since my Electro-Metro is now rigged up for carrying small children, (Please see BABY ON BATTERY BOX) the back seat and cargo area are not available for additional batteries.

I DO have the propane generator that I experimentally got to run for about a minute or so a while back. I still need the proper regulator and gas shut-off solenoid to make that thing work right. 3000 spare watts while driving sure would be handy though!
The generator could be mounted external to the vehicle, keeping the noise and fumes outside, and not using up any cargo space inside.

But that's another project to do while being self-employed, taking classes, having a baby....:rolleyes:

Daox 09-01-2010 11:04 AM

Are you planning on taking more classes? If so it would probably be worth looking into. If its a one time deal then I probably wouldn't bother.

bennelson 09-01-2010 11:27 AM

I am only taking one class this semester - one night per week.

I also have two other "seminar-type" classes, non-credit, which only meet once or twice.

I do intend to take more classes at that college (one per semester, rest of my life....) and I really DO think it is an ideal place for EV charging stations.

It's a "public place" - paid for by tax dollars. Just like the public bus system.
EV charging stations should be considered public transportation infrastructure.

Classes run long enough that any student vehicle parked there would get a significant charge. If my charger runs full-tilt for four hours, (the length of the class) that's about 80% charge of my pack.

There are a ZILLION parking spaces there, tens of handicapped spaces, and motorcycle spaces. We would only need ONE dedicated to electric vehicles. I'm sure the school could spare one.

NEVs and electric scooters are already on the road. The Leaf and Volt will be out this year (probably won't be in my area til summer next year though!) How long will it be before other people will also be demanding Charging Stations?

The school teaches renewable energy. There are FOUR giant PV arrays there, and a wind tower is going in soon. It only makes sense for a program like that to practice what it preaches, and provide access to electricity for clean transportation.

Angmaar 09-01-2010 11:56 AM

What about bringing a very long extension cord? Or attaching a PV panel to the roof?

If you don't mind me asking what technical college is it?

bennelson 09-01-2010 12:40 PM


Originally Posted by Angmaar (Post 191983)
Or attaching a PV panel to the roof?

Um... It's a night class. :rolleyes: Runs from 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

The PV system at Waukesha County Technical College is grid-tie. It produces power during the day the reduce the total energy the college demands from the grid.

If I could plug in near the PV panels, it would be as a social statement, NOT as a technical one. I would NOT literally be getting power from the PV panels, especially at night!

Those couple of parking spaces at the maintenance building are within extension cord distance of of that one outlet. All of the student parking is across the street, and unless you are there at 6 in the morning, you will have to park at least several rows back. Running an extension cord that long, and ACROSS the main street would not fly well with anyone.

Frank Lee 09-01-2010 01:29 PM

Hmmm... if the gate to the maintenance area is always left open, perhaps one could drive back there with their gasser and fill up from their on-site gas pump. :thumbup:

bennelson 09-01-2010 02:57 PM

There actually IS a HUGE gas tank back there, but THAT IS locked up!

MetroMPG 09-01-2010 04:19 PM


So, even if I COULD recharge at the school, I would still need JUST a LITTLE more juice for the range.
Aero mods = more range. (Unless you're in stop&go traffic all the way to & from the campus)

Tweety 09-01-2010 04:43 PM

I'm not sure he can get that much easy gains from the Electro Metro to make a difference... AFAIK he has already made it as sleek as possible... The only reasonably easy one's are sealed beams, instead of the buckets in there, and filling up the hole for the old radiator with a plug... After that we are on to the more exotic stuff with tails and such... ;)

Angmaar 09-01-2010 05:00 PM


Originally Posted by bennelson (Post 191986)
Um... It's a night class. :rolleyes: Runs from 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

*Doh* Forgot about that.

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