Drivers of electric cars are getting more options to recharge their rides in Las Vegas.DC Solar, a distributor of solar generators and portable electric-vehicle chargers, has spread 20 units across the valley, making it more convenient for drivers to charge their vehicles.
The company began placing the chargers in parking lots throughout town in October. Because DC Solar has devised another way to make a profit with the units, motorists don’t have to pay to charge their vehicles at the stations.
“The approach is similar to YouTube’s advertising model, which provides free videos courtesy of sponsored content,” he said.
Almost 3,000 electric vehicles are on Nevada roads today, double the amount from 2015, according to data from NV Energy. And the number is expected to grow.
Drivers are enticed by the money saved by not having to fill up with gasoline at the pump, on top of special electricity rates offered by NV Energy.
NV Energy allows EV owners to charge at a discounted rate during off-peak hours (10 p.m.-6 a.m.). Those rates are good for the entire house or complex during that time, so other appliances also can be used at a discount.
There are 360 EV-charging stations in the Las Vegas Valley, according to the ChargePoint app. DC Solar plans to deploy 200 units in Las Vegas in 2018.
The company’s goal is to encourage the use of electric vehicles by offering the necessary charging infrastructure, while working closely with businesses of all sizes to find more ways to expand its service.
“Availability of physical space and proper exposure to the sun are the first considerations,” Carpoff said. “Beyond that, customer needs determine location. We do our best to place the units outside of existing parking spots.”
The mobile EV chargers come with one or two charging ports. Charging times vary depending on the vehicle battery’s charge. A full charge for an almost-empty battery takes a few hours.
“When it comes to charging times, there is no difference between the solar EV charger and a grid-connected charger,” Carpoff said. “Depending on the car, our Level 2 charging stations will provide a full charge in anywhere from 4-5 hours.”
Each station can charge up to four vehicles per day, depending on how much power each vehicle battery has before plugging in. Solar panels attached to the charging stations are the main power source, but a secondary power source in available in case of solar issues.
“The EV-charging stations are equipped with a backup biodiesel generator, so in the rare event that the panels cannot capture enough sun, there is no interruption in service,” Carpoff said.
Las Vegas is one of 10 cities in which DC Solar chose to place the EV-charging stations. The others are Santa Cruz, Calif; Oakland, Calif; Columbus, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Phoenix; Northridge, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Daytona, Fla.; and Shasta, Calif.
The units require little maintenance. DC Solar technicians handle the majority of the upkeep. Companies leasing the units are responsible for supplying water to the backup battery and cleaning the solar panels of dust and debris as needed.
Although the EV-charging units are designed for vehicle charging, they are able to adapt to charge other items if needed.
“They are engineered for adaptability and can be reconfigured for other applications if necessary,” Carpoff said. “In the event of an emergency, EV-charging functions can be suspended and power can be redirected to power-safety equipment, lighting and small medical devices.”
DC Solar’s stations
Below are free charging stations owned by DC Solar. There are a total of 360 charging stations throughout Las Vegas, owned by various companies. They can all be found using the ChargePoint app.
1. 5965 W. Sahara Ave.
2. 4030 W. Charleston Blvd.
3. 1555 E. Flamingo Road
4. 2151 N. Rancho Drive
5. 4880 W. Oquendo Road
6. Charleston Boulevard and Art Way
7. 9111 Las Vegas Blvd. South
8. 1094 S. Buffalo Drive
9. 276 N. Jones Blvd.
10. 1019 S. Decatur Blvd.
11. 2169 E. Tropicana Ave.
12. 3070 W. Sahara Ave.
13. 6730 Las Vegas Blvd. South
14. 3965 E. Charleston Blvd.
15. 5115 W. Spring Mountain Road
16. 1007 E. Cheyenne Ave.
17. 3100 Fremont St.
18. 7730 S. Jones Blvd.
19. 889 S. Valley View Boulevard