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Charging at your local estate/long term parking - practical and usable solutions?

Discussion in 'Hong Kong' started by DITB, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. DITB

    DITB Charged.hk co-founder

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    There are already many threads about charging, charger types, superchargers, companies installing them and about ICE cars blocking EV spots.

    This thread is in particular dedicated only to practical solutions to offer your local long-term/estate parking, how to solve the associated obstacles (see below the following links). This thread is not about superchargers or public charging stations, nor private house garage where you have almost full control already.

    My prediction is that the success of EV implementation in HK is highly dependant on successful installation of practical and usable charging facilities in your "local estate parking" or equivalent. If HK legislators are any serious about EVs they would make it a requirement by law, even for existing parking garages (within a time frame), to implement charging availability, and enforce it as well (i.e. remove/clamp/fine ICE cars).

    For other similar issues, please see the following existing threads:

    Supercharging:
    Hong Kong Supercharging
    Where Would You Suggest Tesla To Build Their Supercharging Stations In Hong Kong?

    Charging stations and public parking:
    Charging Stations
    Monthly-Paid Parking Space With Charging Points?

    ICE cars blocking EV spots (EVs being "ICEd"):
    ICE vehicle parking at EV spot...

    Plug/charger types:
    Plug type
    Charging with 220V 13A socket in Hong Kong

    Companies installing chargers:
    Charger quotes
    EVPower


    Now back to the subject of this thread.

    Many of us in Hong Kong live in a place where we do not own, nor have control over "our" local, long term parking spot - the place we would park most of the time (i.e. when we are at home, or maybe at work).

    So we need to find ways to incorporate charging solutions, and make it edible for technicians, estate owners associations, managers and car park owners. There is a lot of resistance, fear and misconception of EV cars and charging. One single BYD charger event, which was installed by someone who lacked the skill to do it right, is sufficient for people to be afraid the charging is added risk to their estate. How about each car with a tank of gasoline or LPG? We need to overcome these obstacles by providing information and solutions, to make it easier to get chargers installed in your local parking lot.

    I don't yet know enough about the subject, hence this thread. Eventually, I intend to make a PDF guide or a wiki, and presentation slides which can be used in meetings to inform (and convince) the relevant powers.

    First of all, here is a provisional list of challenges to be met:


    • Regulatory and certification restrictions limiting the installation of chargers. Paperwork exercises!
    • Practical restrictions (i.e. cabling capacity)
    • Allocation and reservation of dedicated EV parking-charging spots, and keeping them ICE free (provide clear signs and floor paint, use least desirable locations etc)
    • Rotation of EVs- if required/possible - of EVs to maximise use of charging capacity when charging finishes
    • Charging stations which cover more than one spot (i.e. installation of a charger in the corners where 4 spots intersect, so charging cables can be moved without shifting cars)
    • Provisions for metering and billing individual car owners/users, and preventing other people from either unplugging a charger prematurely, or leeching of another users account)

    First of all, these would to some extent be overnight or long term parking spots, so to keep it simple, I will focus on 13A installations here. 12 hours of 13A charging should give 140-150 km worth of extra range, which should be sufficient for most owners, as long as it is their long term parking spot. For public and semi-public parking where charging is offered for a typical short-term parking, it's a different story about 13A, see those separate threads.

    I thought about it for a while, and came up with some thoughts about it.

    Routing cables of sufficient capacity from the local switch room to the intended spots, where the meters will be located. A number of metering cabinets, a bitlike this type, but with a personal lock, one for each user:

    metering cabinet.jpg

    The cover of the metering box would have an opening at the bottom, so the 13A charging cable can be connected inside, while the cable is connected to the car. This design has the following ...

    Advantages:


    • Only the approved user(s) who has/have the key (or keypad combination) are able to use the charging meter that goes on your account
    • Other people will not be able to unplug your car, while you aren't there, as the socket is inside the locked cabinet
    • Service staff are able to read the meter through the window for regular billing, without having the key to your box
    • Community boxes with loaner keys could be kept for guest users needing to charge, for direct billing as required
    • A 13A charger requires pretty simple and cheap installation of standard 1-phase 230V AC cabling, a cabinet with a lock, meter, circuit breaker and socket. Standard socket should work for all electric cars, though the charging is slow (about 12 km/hr for a Tesla)
    • No need for octopus installation, connectivity and charges, just regular reading of the meter for billing

    Disadvantages:


    • Unless you have a solid extension cable, your box will only work for a few adjacent spots (this will be a problem once EVs become more widespread and parking lots have many EVs)
    • People who really want to commit vandalism can still cut your cable. But then, they can also slash your tires and scratch your paint
    • The spots will only be open to a limited number of users, or each user need to have multiple meters around.
    • If you need to charge your 85kWh MS from 0 to 500 km range, you need to occupy the spot and the charger, for about 1 1/2 day (at 13A charging)

    As for prevention of ICE blocking of EV spots, here are some suggestions:

    Do Not Park Your ICE Here!!!.jpg



    • Make clear signs over and behind the parking spot, English and Chinese. Amongst other information, write in large font something like "Please report non-EV parking to XXXX XXXX for fast towing"
    • Paint the surface in a bright colour, with a "plug" symbol on it (See Marks post of the Tesla fast charging spots with two roadsters in)
    • Place a boom or a sign placed on the floor which must be manually moved to access the spot, clearly stating "Electric Vehicles only - others will be towed, clamped and fined" or something
    • Issue wheel hydraulic car shifting jacks and wheel clamps, or equivalent, to allow service staff to move illegally parked ICE cars

    Mark Tesla parking.jpg

    Car Shifting device.jpg

    This is how HK Electric octopus enabled chargers work:

    HK Electric Investments - System Busy

    I cannot see from this guide whether or not the cabinets lock. Could other people unplug your charger from the socket, maybe even charge on your expense? Can it be used in a private/restricted parking lot, or will they only install it in public accessible lots?

    Octopus charging would be a good and flexible solution, if it protects you from being unplugged, and if it isn't overcharged (pun if you like or not!), but somehow I think it will cost quite a lot to get it installed, and run it.


    Let's hear your thoughts, how do we approach these issues, and make the most of it?
     
  2. Lerxt

    Lerxt Member

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    Some good ideas. However getting stuff past the fun police and the "cannot" brigade is another thing.
     
  3. Ugliest1

    Ugliest1 S85: "Sparky"

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    [bolding added] LOL. Now that's an expression I'll have to write down.
     
  4. ekwng

    ekwng Member

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    For prevention of ICE blocking of EV spots, car park management should manage the charging bay the same way as they manage the reserved bay for disables. I seldom see people dare to occupy the bay for disables.

    Having said that, there are laws to protect the disabled community, but we have no such privileges.
     
  5. Lerxt

    Lerxt Member

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    I think that estates will have to be made to comply, I doubt they will do it willingly, probably because electric cars are so "dangerous'.
     
  6. Vmax

    Vmax Member

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    Totally agree. Estates should be obliged by law to provide charging points once a resident requires them. Otherwise EVs won't move forward in HK. But this is still a long way to go.
     
  7. DITB

    DITB Charged.hk co-founder

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    #7 DITB, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
    Thank you for your comments.

    I wrote this not just because of my own parking situation, but because I think it is vital for the successful implementation of EVs in Hong Kong, that we don't get newspaper headlines like "My EV is useless, I cannot charge it" or something along these lines. By the time stories like these hits the headlines of HK newspapers, it will take a lot of effort to restore general public confidence in recharging. The huge wave of Tesla model S cars arriving this year will really put the charging infrastructure - and peoples patience and goodwill - to a test.

    Just look at what happened to the few fires of Tesla model S cars - while totally unrelated to the battery itself, no-one is injured and tens of thousands of ICE cars burning every year, that doesn't sell newspapers. People want to believe in failures, so let's fight to make this one a success!

    We need to have stories where people talk about how happy they are about their car, and how it has made their life much easier, safer, more comfortable, all the while they are not spewing out exhaust fumes. Charging their car at night using excess electricity that couldn't otherwise be used from low demand, arriving to a fully charged car each morning.


    HK dirty air.jpg


    Next step is to get more electricity from wind turbines and solar power but that is a different fight. Even when the electricity comes from coal, it's still several times better than each car having it's own fossil burner.
     
  8. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    Here are the EMSD technical guidelines for EV charging facilities in Hong Kong:

    http://www.emsd.gov.hk/emsd/e_download/pps/pub/Charging_Facilities_Electric_Vehicles.pdf

    My personal opinion is that we need legislative backing in support of home/office EV charging in _existing_ buildings. Without such backing, the building owners / management are just not going to do it (at least in the short term, until there is a large enough base of vehicles). The issues are:

    1. Charging for electricity - only CLP and HKE can do that (?)
    2. How, specifically, the 'force' can be applied

    For (1), a solution is to allow CLP or HKE into the car parks and allow them to use octopus to charge for this, just like they do now in shopping centres. That, however, is an overly complex and expensive solution - given that all we really need is a 13A socket and monthly/quarterly metered billing for a single user. I am not really sure of the law here - is anyone allowed to 'sell' (or resell) electricity in Hong Kong?

    For (2), with _new_ buildings Government used the plot ratio concessions that developers already get (extending the conditions of those concessions to include providing for a minimum ration of EV charging facilities). But, what about for _existing_ buildings? It can't be done via a rates concession (as the rates are paid by the car park owner, not necessarily user). The simplest approach seems to be CAP344 (building management ordinance) as a pure 'stick' approach (make it illegal to block installation of charging facilities), but I suspect any changes there would be so watered down as to make it a very expensive proposition for a car park owner (dedicated meter, separate service, insurance, etc) and it does nothing for renters (rather than owners).

    Regarding ICEing of parking spots, the shopping centres in Hong Kong that use clearly labelled and painted spots together with cones have no problems at all. I have yet to see a single case of ICEing in such spots. The government car parks, by contrast, which have no painted spots and no priority for EV charging, are permanently ICEd. The solution is simple - the government car parks should have a few spaces dedicated to EV charging (painted, coned, and enforced). Say 2 out of 20 spots, to begin with. Then, when the utilisation of those initial spots starts to grow, then more spots should be moved over to be dedicated to EV charging. It really is that simple, but government doesn't seem to have the balls to do it (which seems strange, given the success of such an approach in shopping centre car parks - as well as how such brightly painted spots 'showcase' EV charging in general).

    I recently had a long discussion with EPD and EMSD regarding the situation at the Cheung Sha Wan government car park (20 EV parking bays, all ICEd). Bottom line from the responses received is that they want to 100% utilise the car park and won't dedicate spaces to EV charging. They say:

    but that is not what is happening practically in the government car parks today. I also think the wording 'improve the chances' is ridiculous. A charge for an EV is equivalent to a refill of petrol for an ICE vehicle. Think of it from the EV driver's point of view - turning up at an EV charging station, finding 20 bays all blocked by petrol cars, and being unable to charge. That is equivalent to turning up at a petrol station and being unable to refuel because all the pumps are blocked by EVs. If the petrol station was shared by EVs and petrol cars, surely it would be sensible to reserve 1 or 2 petrol pumps for refueling?

    Without these issues resolved, I think we're in for some tough times for EVs in Hong Kong. Those purchasers who don't have charging at home or in the office are going to be fighting (amongst themselves and with other EV owners) for the few public charging spots.
     
  9. Vmax

    Vmax Member

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    To the public it looks like the government is supportive of EVs, but in practicality the support is only half hearted. Some departments support it, but as Mark shows the ones in charge for the particular carparks just care about the carparks revenues.

    With our support and believe in EVs for HK we are in for a tough ride. Especially for the people who don’t have charging facilities at home and/or work. I foresee charging chaos and many unhappy EV drivers once we suddenly have 500 EVs on the road in the second half of the year.

    Although I have my own 13amp charging at my estate’s carpark, my dream of the technically possible 32amp 3 phase upgrade might pop. I just learned, that CLP requests a form for “Rising Mains for Connection of Electrical Installation with an Increased Current Demand” to be signed by the building management or the chairman of the incorporated owners. I worry they might not sign the form.
     
  10. CCT

    CCT Member

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    Vmax, thanks for the info. I just found the form on CLP's website and will follow your approach and see if it works for my estate.
     
  11. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    I can see it from their point of view. Imagine if you ran a car park, and were suddenly asked to install petrol pumps at each of the parking spaces. You would raise many of the same issues - safety, why are we asked to do this, and what are these new-fangled 'petrol' cars anyway?

    I also think that the government departments responsible really haven't thought this through properly, and the policies they have in place are unworkable and not universally enforced. Sure, it hits the target of '1,000 charging points', but almost half of those points are unusable.

    As a 3-year EV driver in Hong Kong, I can say that the arrangement in shopping centre car parks works well. The places are brightly lit, clearly marked, coned off, and both show-case and make available EV charging. They are incredibly well done, and work 99.9% of the time. The only negative I have is the complexity of the Octopus control box (which on several occasions has been blue-screen-of-death and resetting) - but I treat that as a necessary evil as at some point they are going to have to start charging for this.

    I can also say that the government car park arrangement is terrible at the moment. My 'able to get a charge' success rates are less than 50%. Most of the time it is because the spaces are blocked off and unusable.
     
  12. Vmax

    Vmax Member

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    Mark, I hope after we have about 5-600 additional EVs on the road by the 2nd half of this year, the pressure from many unhappy drivers on the government will be on and they will re-think their implementation of the chargers in their carparks.
     
  13. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    In my recent complaint about Cheung Sha Wan charging plug being out-of-service for six months, I was told that mine was the only complaint they had received. I suspect that others just gave up. Bottom line: if it doesn't work, report it.
     
  14. Vmax

    Vmax Member

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    Once I got my EVs, I'm going to drive them nuts if their chargers don't work.
     
  15. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    Moderator's note: Some posts moved to the Hong Kong charging stations thread, to keep this thread to the original stated 'only to practical solutions to offer your local long-term/estate parking, how to solve the associated obstacles (see below the following links)'.
     
  16. DITB

    DITB Charged.hk co-founder

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    Thanks, Mark.

    And to add to that, I had another talk to the management where I live today.

    They are very positive, but of course minded that it should be done the proper way - whatever that will be. Cost is less of an issue, proper execution, legality, safety and proper execution is more important.

    About the amount of chargers he said, if we install one, we might as well install more. To which I replied, that it's a good idea as it's a question of "when", not "if", they have to put more in anyway.

    Some options discussed:

    - Charging a flat rate pr month (or day for guests) for access to unlimited 13A charging
    - Whatever solution, is should be locked and protected
    - Boxes with locks and meters/breakers/sockets inside prevents others from unplugging, as well as stealing access
    - Prepaid cards, octopus or just boxes with keys?

    They are definitely interested, and working on it. From what he told me I can hear they have been gathering more information, so I hope it doesn't stall at some administrative or bureaucratic barrier.
     
  17. Vmax

    Vmax Member

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    I believe the best will be to get your management in touch with HK EVpower. So far they are the only one offering professional installation solutions for EVs which I could find. If there is any other professional provider out there, would be happy to learn about them.
     
  18. DITB

    DITB Charged.hk co-founder

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    If all you want is a bunch of 13A "charging stations", it's not really a charger, but just a 13A outlet. Whether you plug in a toaster, vacuum cleaner or Tesla model S, should really matter. All it takes is normal wiring, a 13A circuit breaker, optionally a meter and if all of it is inside a locker with a key: It can all be put on accounts for later payment.
     

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