Fuzzy meanings of “charging station”

Now in 2023 it is becoming clearer and clearer that it is sort of unfortunate that a terminology has come into common use namely a single two-word phrase (“charging station”) that conflates two entirely different and wholly unrelated functional needs.

  • There is the need to be able to plug in an EV at night before going to sleep, with the idea that in the morning, after the passage of some hours, the EV will be charged up.
  • And there is the need to take a break during a cross-country EV trip to stop for 15 or 20 minutes, to charge up, and then four or five hours later there is the need to take another break during that cross-country EV trip to stop for 15 or 20 minutes to charge up again.

These are simply not the same thing.  There is almost nothing in common between these two activities except that they both involve an electric vehicle.

Right now in 2023, to the extent there is any established terminology for these things, the first one is the awkward phrase “Level 2 charger” and the second one is randomly called “Level 3 charger” or “fast charger” or “supercharger”.  For anybody who is on a cross-country EV trip, it is mostly unhelpful to be told over and over again that there are this many or that many Level 2 chargers located here or there.  (It is helpful when a hotel has Level 2 chargers available to the hotel guests.)

Yet another very unfortunate thing that is becoming clearer and clearer by now in 2023 is that nobody seems to know how to count things.  A first news story might use the phrase “charging station” to mean “the kiosk or wall-mounted device with a cord and a charging plug that you can plug into a charging port on your EV”, but then a second news story will use the phrase “charging station” to mean “the place where you can go with your EV where there are a bunch of kiosks that each have a charging plug”.    This means that depending on which sloppy meaning a writer uses, the writer might say that right now the US has about ten thousand EV charging stations, or might say that right now the US has about fifty thousand EV charging stations.

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