Your take-home message:
Electric vehicle owners find home charging reliable, dependable, cheap and more convenient than having to fill-up at a petrol station.
This month’s poll:
Our tenth 1-click survey invited your response to the following statement:
“Compared to filling up at a petrol station, charging my EV at home is …
- (1) Much more convenient
- (2) More Convenient
- (3) Equally convenient
- (4) Less convenient
- (5) Much less convenient
The poll was sent on 10 August 2017 to 277 Electric vehicle owners who have enrolled in the Flip The Fleet project • 203 members responded by 17 July • 105 members provided 205 reasons for their choice.
What makes you Click?
Most (92%) of the Flip the Fleet members find home charging either ‘much more convenient’ or at least ‘more convenient’ than having to go to a petrol station to fill up (Fig. 1). Around 5.4% think they are about equally convenient, which just leaves 2.5% that think home charging is less convenient or much less convenient than going to a petrol station. This is by far the most one-sided poll taken by Flip the Fleet so far (see www.flipthefleet.org/discussion for the earlier polls).
Respondents emphasised that home charging is more convenient than filling up with petrol because it’s fast, reliable, clean and easily integrated into their daily use of their EVs. After a while home charging becomes habitual, hassle free and no more complicated than charging your smartphone each night. Many EV owners have developed an aversion to petrol stations because they force a detour, can involve queuing to fill or pay, and the experience can be uncomfortable in bad weather compared to simply driving into the home garage and plugging in. Some EV owners think that home charging takes less time overall than going to a petrol station, others thought they took about the same time. Reactions to the relative convenience of the two modes of powering their cars depended on a trade-off between more frequent but quicker home charging events compared to less frequent but much more time consuming and disruptive fill-ups at a petrol station. People living in rural areas or a long way from a petrol station find home charging particularly convenient. Home charging helps many EV owners minimise energy costs, particularly by putting the vehicle charging onto a timer to charge between 11 pm and 7 am to take advantage of off-peak power rates. The ability to charge at home dovetails well with home electricity generation management.
Table 1: Reasons for respondents’ choices about the relative convenience of home charging compared to refuelling at a service station. The last column shows the percentage of times each issue was raised out of 205 mentions overall
Home charging is quick, simple, comfortable & painless
Home charging saves time (27 respondents) or takes about the same time (3 respondents) or occasionally longer (1 respondent).
Refuelling at a petrol station requires a special trip, cost to detour & waste time and delay to queue and pay
Home charging is cheaper, allows better control of costs and integrates well with home generation
Filling up at a petrol station is unpleasant, unhealthy and uncomfortable, and tempts children and drivers with unhealthy food
Home charging becomes habitual and integrated seamlessly into home routines
Home charging is dependable, safe, clean
It’s not just that you save time by charging at home, you also save high quality time for better things than filling-up at a station
People trade-off convenience of more frequent attention to charging that takes little time, versus infrequent visits to petrol stations where each event takes much longer
EV ownership is about a lot more important bigger picture things than just increased convenience
You have to be well setup at home to capture the convenience of home charging
Need for planning (spilt equally between petrol and home charging)
Fringe benefits from loyalty rewards are missed by EV owners
Unpredictable events that require emergency use of your car might still catch you out at home very occasionally
On the down side, a few EV owners considered they needed to plan a bit more ahead when home charging, or worried that the car might not be fully-charged in time in the case of some unexpected emergency. Others miss the fringe benefit of not being able to earn air points on their credit card when buying petrol, and some look forward to electricity companies and AA creating their own loyalty rewards for EV owners.
Some of our members did not separate the issue of convenience of refuelling from the bigger picture issues of sustainability, environmental impacts of petrol and conventional vehicles, or the overall financial benefits of EVs. This is part of them emphasising a bigger, systems-level picture for why the world needs more EVs and PHEVs, and therefore why they see this ‘convenience’ question as somewhat irrelevant, or at least not very important. But we all have to have a reason to step in a new and better direction, and increased convenience of home charging is potentially an effective first nudge. Flip the Fleet will now do its best to spread the word that EVs and PHEVs are convenient, reliable and practical; and by the way, they are also good for people, your purse and the planet.
Your comments in detail:
Below is an edited summary of your comments. There were far too many comments to record them all, so we have selected representative examples within the main themes.
It’s quick and painless: “It’s just as easy as charging my phone each day” • “On my way from parking the car to entering my house, it takes me barely 15 seconds to plug the car in… and another 15 seconds to unplug it when I next use the car” • “No reaching for a payment card. No reconciling fuel purchases in the household accounts. Done at home when there is no rush” • “We have to plug her in every day, sometimes every second day. It takes about 30 seconds and about 30 seconds to unplug. So that’s a maximum of about 7 minutes a week” • “Just plug it in and switch it on” • “You just get home, plug in and leave it. This is the easiest thing I have done in my motoring experience” • “I plug in at night, and that does my running round for the day. It doesn’t get any easier than that” • “It’s safe, fast to set up” • “No longer do I have to make time to go and fill up, stand in the cold while the tank fills and then on a que to pay, I drive into the garage, plug on and that’s it, and it’s cheaper!” • [There were 8 more similar comments]
Dodging bad weather: “It’s certainly more convenient to fill up at home in the comfort of our garage and not out in the weather” • “A couple of times when charging at public stations I’ve got wet – at least down here in south of Christchurch we could do with a roof/shelter/awning over the public chargers”
And it’s going to get even easier: “New technology is coming that doesn’t even need a cord – just park over a pad and Beam me Up Scotty”• “Soon with the new Blueskin Smart Grid marketplace I expect to be able to manage my charging and discharging remotely and in a balanced way to contribute to a more stable local grid with lowered peak demand” •
It’s not complicated: “Well you just plug in and leave” • “Much simpler to plug our PHEV in at night in our carport than go to a petrol station to fill and pay” • “No searching for supermarket discount vouchers, credit card, loyalty card. No getting out in the cold, rain” • “Overnight charging is convenient and the time taken is not a problem. No different to charging your phone!” • “Only inductive charging could be simpler. No money, no card, no receipt” • “Pull into the garage, plug the Leaf in and walk away – simple as that 🙂 • “It is more convenient because it is there in your garage, just waiting to be hooked up at the end of the day. You do not get mugged by the petrol companies every time you do need to recharge” • “The cable is sitting in the car port ready. I drive in stop the car undo the charging flap get out walk round the front and plug the cable in. As I walk away the car beeps 3 times so I know all is OK” • [5 more similar comments]
Dependable and nearby: “It is always there, easy to get to, no need to pay (at the time), no need to make a special trip” • “Very occasionally something unexpected happens and I have to use our old ICE because the battery in our Leaf is not sufficiently charged. Once I had not pushed the plug in far enough and found the battery still flat in the morning – not a mistake I will ever make again. But other than that, charging runs smoothly at home” • “Certainty of a full charge every day”
But don’t forget! “Being charge up and ready to go every morning is great. The only downside is forgetting to plug in. That’s happens once a year. :(“
Saving time: “No special trips to the petrol station, no cold draughty forecourt, no finding your wallet. Basically no hassle!” • “10 seconds to plug in before sleep, 10 seconds to unplug in the morning – beats driving to a petrol station for 5 minutes, waiting for a pump for 5 minutes, filling up for 5 minutes, and then cuing to pay for another 5. 20 seconds vs 20 minutes – no brainer!” • “Plugging in take 10 seconds, no need to remember to visit a petrol station and then actually spend time filling up (especially if you’re in a rush). Plugging in at home is in your own time, usually when you’re not busy” • “It simply saves time, just drive home and plug in” • “Although charging typically takes several hours at home, it happens between 11pm and 7am, when I am inside and asleep, so the time taken is irrelevant. All I need to do when I come home at night is to plug the car in. It takes less than 30 seconds from the time I get out of the car. Unlike at the gas station, there is no need to hold the plug in place, or to be in attendance as the car “”fills””, and in the morning, I just unplug it and I’m good to go with around 200km of range for the day – more than four times what I typically need” • “No queues is the big one but it’s also very quick” • “In round terms I am avoiding around 40 visits to a petrol station a year, each taking about 5 minutes unless there is a queue. That’s about 200 minutes a year. I charge around 200 times a year, and spend about a minute each time to unfurl, plug-in and switch-on; and pack it away afterwards. So overall the time spent energizing is about the same I reckon. Either way it’s a trivial difference when you consider the bigger environmental, social and financial benefits of EVs” • [7 more similar comments]
Trading-off often with longer: “Charging at home once is quite a lot more convenient than filling up with petrol once. But, charging at home is going to need doing 10 times as often, so it balances out” • “Well I have to do it every day, sometimes twice a day, where I was only in the gas station twice a week. But it’s no big deal – no more of a hassle than charging my phone every night” • “Pay at the pump took me 10 minutes maximum every 700km and was an opportunity to check tyres and clean the windscreen and top up the windscreen washer reservoir. Plugging in at home takes not a lot of effort but it is a twice a day activity to connect then disconnect and stow the EVSE to get 100km” this respondent scored #4 ‘Less convenient’] • “it is an add up of sorts and charging is a much bigger issue than filling a tank once or twice a month” [Respondent chose 3] • [4 more similar comments]
The power of habit: “It just becomes a way of life to plug in most nights” • “It’s a simple routine to get into, just plug the car in when I pull into the garage each evening” • “Once you’re in the habit of just plugging in each night you know you’ll have a full tank every morning and don’t need to factor in a visit to the service station”
Seamlessly integrated into our home and travel routines: “The drive home is just that, no planning a fuel stop, negotiating traffic to get to the pump, queuing to paying for fuel, just straight home. I really appreciate the convenience of this process” • “There are charging devices at all my friends’ houses, so I can charge anywhere and not have to drive to the petrol station to refuel” • “With a well-planned week I can drain the battery and charge overnight without having to divert to another location” • “Can choose a good time in the comfort and convenience of own home” • “It becomes habitual and takes thirty seconds and gives me a thrill every single time!!”
Stay in bed a while longer: “I live rurally and there is no petrol station on my way to work. When I was still driving a petrol car, I often had to drive into the next town about 8km away only to fill up the car. Also the petrol stations in this town were not open overnight. So I often had to get up earlier in the morning to fill up before starting work. Now I can fill up at any time without any extra mileage”
Up and at ‘em every morning: “Full tank every morning!” • “Plug in at night, or after the trip, and wake up to a full battery ready for the next adventure!”
Particularly convenient for country living: “EVers living in the country have their own energy station in their garage, so they have no big diversions or special trips to find petrol” • “We live out of town and now I don’t have to make a special trip to the garage”
No detours for petrol: “Busy life, don’t want detours, but one always drives home!” • “I don’t need to make a journey out of my way to get petrol” • “At the end of a day’s work do not have the extra job of calling into a petrol station that is not on my way home, taking time to fill. I can just go straight home and not worry about “getting petrol” • “With my old ICE car I’d have to make a special trip to a petrol station and sometimes wait to go when they had a “10c off per litre ” deal, which often meant joining a queue of cars with the same idea. The hassle at the end of a busy day to have to go to the petrol station sometimes was frustrating. It’s a bit like paying tax – you don’t like it, but it must be done. With an EV you can just do it at home – often while you sleep using off peak power and you’re ready to go in the morning” • [2 more similar comments]
Planning needed equally for charging and filling with gas: “Nor do I need to plan well ahead to have petrol in reserve” • “it takes more planning and in actual fact a second conventional petrol vehicle in case you need to make a trip and the EV is just not charged up enough or there are not enough fast chargers on the way. The main issue always is time”
An opportunity to save money: “From where I live, a trip to a service station to buy petrol is a 20 km round trip, which is costly running if I’m using petrol. Besides the electricity I use costs much less” • “Rather than queuing and sometimes getting wet while filling up with petrol, I’m saving money” • “I used to spend $85/week on petrol. Now it’s about $5/week and every morning I have a full charge… well 80%. With my solar export of $15-20/month I reckon it costs me about $15 / month to travel approximately 1000km. Awesome” • “My car is set on a timer so it automatically charges to 80% by about 6am in the morning, so I’m taking best advantage of the low overnight power prices” • “To get best value out of the high value (25-40c/l) fuel coupons, I’d fill the ICE tank & jerry cans to get the max amount of diesel possible. This took longer than a single fill and also involved siphoning fuel out of jerry cans at later stage. Doing this, the cost savings were very good, but nothing like running an EV” • “If that isn’t reason enough to love home charging.. the real clincher is the way that as you fill, the petrol pump spins up really big numbers which equate to the huge sum of money which is then siphoned out of the bank account. $2.70 a fill of electricity compared to $90 for petrol – it’s a no brainer!” • “Can time the charge to when electricity is cheaper (use Flick!)” • [3 more similar comments]
Cheaper overall, especially with a timer: “No side trips, no queuing, no waiting, very much cheaper” • “My car ‘refuels’ while I sleep, making use of night rates. All I have to do is plug it in, pre-set timers do the rest” • “I can charge overnight and take advantage of the night rates, also not draw from the grid at peak times. Takes no time at all!” • “No detours, shopping around to get the best price. Then there’s the free power at Pac’n’Save in Petone or the Dowse in Lower Hutt” • “I score a free carpark to do a quick errand when I use a public charging spot”
Cost is more under our control: Price is more under our control at home – a timer can secure the upload in off-peak times to save money and help NZ reduce the need to run fossil fuelled electricity generators to meet the peak demand –the price of electricity is more stable than cost of petrol and the profits stay in NZ”
A real plus when coupled to home electricity generation: “I can usually charge it during the day when the sun’s energy is being collected by my solar panels, so that the cost is negligible” • “Mostly charging up from my solar panels so much cheaper too” • “I don’t have to drive to the petrol station! No messy spills or nasty fumes. It happily charges at home from our solar panels while the sun is shining and we are doing something else” • “And the charging timer is a great feature that allows us to take advantage of sunny days when our solar PV is generating well” • “We also have the advantage of solar panels so the power is free!!!”
My boss pays for my commute! “I can get leave work with more charge than when I left home – no gas guzzlers can ever say that!” • “Some can score a fringe benefit by having their work charge their car at the office”
A wide berth around lollies! “I don’t have to stop at the petrol station, which not only saves time but saves on the temptation of spending money in the shop” • “Takes me 5 seconds to plug in each evening and has saved me the unnecessary purchases inside the petrol station” • “I don’t have to make any special stop to refuel. A side benefit is I don’t buy that coffee/pie/bag of Minties that I didn’t need anyway when I’m plugging in at home!” • “Fewer temptations for kids, no requests for snacks at the petrol station”
The unexpected is a nagging worry: “We live out of town and so do have to charge up each evening and though the range is perfectly adequate for our day-to-day needs, the car still does not have the distance between charges to cope with a multi-day run on the batteries” • “We are using a trickle-charge, not fast, so my one scenario is how would we go if we needed a midnight dash to A&E? Would we have charged up enough? An unanswered question as yet. On balance, still very glad we made the switch [to an EV]”
A chance to multi-task: “Home/office charging is so much more handy, because the things that I do while waiting for the fill to complete is actually valuable to me” • “Unlike fast charging on a trip, you cannot sip a coffee WHILST you are filling up at a petrol station. The whole act of filling up is so time consuming – getting into the car, driving to the station, filling up, paying… – like going to the Post Office to make a telephone call”
We’re petrol station haters! “For starters I hate the gas station” • “When the weather is crap there’s nothing worse than standing there waiting for fuel to pump either, since so few petrol stations are serviced nowadays • “Not exposed to the weather or tempted by goodies in the shop. Don’t have to make conversation with attendants (I’m not really that grumpy!). No waiting.” • “If it was possible for ICE car owners to fill up at home how many petrol stations would there be?” • “Don’t have to enter smelly petrol station and stand in the cold and then pay for the inconvenience” • “Compared to having to actually drive to a service station, find a free lane, get out, fill it yourself, smell the fumes, hang around in a queue to wait to be served, pay for it, then leave again, it is so much easier – especially so in wet weather” • “Better than stopping at a service station and having to pay a lot of money after filling the car with a volatile liquid” • “Have always hated petrol stations. Queues, smelly, interrupts the journey, hurts the wallet, tempts the tummy and waiting for service because they’re too busy serving coffee and food.” • “What’s more, I have not had to duck “”off-route”” on the way home to visit the gas station, stand in the wind and rain while the car fills, wait in the queue inside to pay while 5 people buy a bottle of milk and cigarettes, then dash back to the car and wait for a break in the traffic to resume my journey. Admittedly, it was only once a week, but it was usually a miserable experience!” • “No waiting in queues to pay, no getting covered in petrol from the bowser” • “Some service stations are okay but the big ones are often places I’d rather not have to enter” • “The lawn mower forces me to the petrol station (I must get an electric mower!) and to top-up tyre pressure, but I now hate the places” • [5 more similar comments]
Well, maybe they have their uses after all? “I can’t wash my windscreen or check my tyre pressures [at home]” • “Only good thing about [petrol stations] is the toilet (if it’s clean)”
Your own clean and green garage: “It’s at home, it doesn’t smell, I can power it from my PV panels during the day” • “When I got an EV, I realised what an unpleasant chore filling up with gas can be. We charge our car overnight a couple of times a week. It’s quiet, clean, and easy” • “it is odour-free, noise-free, carcinogen-free and mess-free” • “No smell, no swipey card to leverage my road side assistance off”
Integrated with work routines: “Once I get a charging cable/station at work, it will be super convenient as I won’t need to coil up my charger and take it with me”
It pays to get well set up at home: “Everything is to hand and I have a dedicated charger so it is easy” • “Well I don’t have a garage so I need to hang the cable out a window to get to my car every day [this respondent scored #4 ‘Less convenient’]” • “At present I do not have power to my garage so charging is not as easy as it will be when I can get this sorted” • “I park the car in a carport which also covers our front door. The power socket is by the front of the car so it is a very simple task, taking a few seconds always dry, each day” • “I don’t have a garage. So I have to put away my charging cable then bring it out to plug the car in. Still it only takes a minute. Better than a 15 minute detour to the petrol station” • “We have an outdoor cable right beside where we park our electric car so it’s just a matter of opening the hatch, plugging in, and turning on”
Please build EV loyalty rewards? “I guess the only down side is I no longer get air points on my petrol purchase” • “I miss the air points scored by putting my fuel bill on my credit card, and wonder what AA and my local supermarket can do for me as a bonus for my undying loyalty – I look forward to the day when EV charging is rewarded and made more visible by such schemes”
Part of a bigger mission! “It takes much less time because it happens while I sleep. It is also vastly cheaper but the clincher is it is carbon free” • “(1) Convenient & I have full control. (2) I like the idea of ‘powering’ my vehicle at source. (3) I am not filling the pockets of the ‘hydrocarbon’ industry. (4) I am doing my bit for the environment. (5) I like sticking it to big industry & multi-national corporations” • “Petrol sucks” • “Efficiency of transport is increased by not having to drag a full (and very heavy) tank of petrol around with me for half the time” • “Not just convenient, also using 100% NZ-generated renewable power (via Ecotricity) instead of imported, costly, polluting oil. A win-win-win-win-win situation” • “How convenient is filling up at home compared to at a fuel station? The question concerns me, but otherwise, is not important to me. Rather – does having an EV and filling up at home make a difference to the planet? We have to move away from such self-absorbed motives of Convenience, Money in my pocket, Profit, Worrying about how we appear to others, etc. We have to move towards thinking about our planet – what can we do to reduce our CO2 emissions, conserve non-renewable resources, protect the health of our planet and the people living on it, and how can we do this in a way that is sustainable. While we are doing this, let’s ask how can we make that system more resilient and able to cope with the climate horrors that are coming our way. If you will repeatedly and consistently ask questions that get people thinking about that, and which elicit those sorts of response as the norm then you will start to shape attitudes that will go some way to helping the planet and the people. One thing I think is for sure, and that is that if we do not change our attitudes and values as to what is important then we are so screwed” • [3 more similar comments]
What should we ask the members next? This poll was suggested by Dan Capper and Morgan Knoesen, both of whom have enrolled their EVs in Flip the Fleet. Please suggest questions to ask of your fellow EV owners in future 1-click surveys – email your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dima Ivanov, Henrik Moller and Jefferson Dew
17 August 2017