Making an attempt Out Phillips 66 & Freewire’s First EV Charging Station


On a latest journey throughout Texas, I discovered myself needing to get a cost in Houston. I remembered a earlier article about Phillips 66 putting in their first DC quick charging station at their flagship retailer … which simply occurs to be in Houston. Plus, I haven’t charged at a Freewire station earlier than, so it appeared like an amazing factor to check out.

What Makes These Stations Particular

On the floor, and based mostly on the place it was put in, the factor that makes these stations one thing new and thrilling is a sticker and a reputation. An organization with a protracted historical past within the oil trade (going again to the Phillips Petroleum Firm within the Nineteen Twenties), Phillips beginning a brand new journey away from fossil fuels is an enormous deal. So, it’s actually greater than only a sticker. However, these stations have one thing extra particular contained in the field.

Like all Freewire Enhance stations, they don’t simply serve energy from the grid into your EV’s battery pack. The tools at these charging stations is far bigger than at Supercharger stations, however every part is organized into one cupboard. For instance, there’s the charging tools, 160 kWh of battery storage (which might help 2–4 costs generally), and all of the digital parts.

This concept of power storage at charging stations isn’t unique, however one key distinction units it aside. Different firms, like Electrify America and Tesla, use battery storage to do one thing related. Nevertheless, this technique nonetheless requires quite a few hours for set up as a result of it necessitates wiring complexities and a separate place to retailer the batteries. They do their greatest to stash the battery packs away, however it’s harder to get every part accepted due to this. FreeWire sends a self-contained field that may be put in in just some hours in comparison with ready months for set up.

To not point out: you don’t even want 3-phase energy if it’s not accessible. This makes the set up course of far more seamless. In different phrases, these can substitute a Stage 2 charging station with ease — little to no additional wiring or new providers from the electrical firm and with out including demand costs companies’ energy invoice. The tip result’s an reasonably priced system that also offers 100–200 kW of constant charging energy for drivers with out straining the grid.

You’ll must pay for electrical energy to energy your charging station, however the associated fee out of your electrical firm shall be larger than you may count on. The fees embody one thing referred to as demand costs, that are levied per kilowatt fairly than per kilowatt-hour.

Your energy firm payments you based mostly on how a lot electrical energy you utilize at your highest level of consumption through the month. They don’t care as a lot about how a lot power you’ve consumed general, however fairly how massive of a “pipe” was wanted to help your peak utilization. The bigger the wires must be to deal with your most load, the upper they’ll cost you for utilizing their service. Evaluating this billing technique to water utilization, electrical energy can be like gallons used whereas energy would discuss with the scale of pipe required.

In case you have a 50kW station, this payment shall be lots of of {dollars} month-to-month. In case you have a number of 150–250 kW stations and so they all get used on the identical time, you’ll find yourself paying 1000’s of {dollars} each month — it’s tremendous costly. In the event you don’t have preexisting infrastructure in place, you’ll have to pay for the supplies and building wanted to get energy operating to your required location. Not solely that, however you’ll be charged a excessive month-to-month fee to maintain the lights on and keep stated infrastructure.

Even perhaps higher, if you happen to wished to energy these stations from solar energy, it could be quite a bit simpler. The station can draw just a few tens of kilowatts all day, and save that energy up for a driver to get a full 160 kW of charging after they arrive.

What It Was Like Utilizing A Phillips 66 Freewire Station

Whereas the technical particulars are attention-grabbing, EV charging is one thing we don’t need to actually be that attention-grabbing. Ideally, you plug the automobile into the station, begin the cost, and let the charger and the automobile do their factor to provide the vary you want. If it’s any extra attention-grabbing than that, one thing in all probability went fallacious.

I’m glad to report that the expertise right here was largely boring. I plugged the automobile in, held my ChargePoint card as much as the station, and it began placing energy into my Bolt EUV’s battery.

Relating to the station, there was one actually cool element from a customer-facing perspective: an enormous, lovely touchscreen. The photographs of Freewire stations don’t actually do it justice. They give the impression of being completely superior in individual. Like a TV, greater screens are all the time good, however additionally they assist the large field of batteries and charging tools look much more proportional, too.

Once I was executed beginning the cost, the benefits of Phillips 66’s flagship retailer began to change into obvious. Not solely did the OnCue station have a broad number of snacks, drinks, and precise meals, but it surely additionally had massive, clear loos. Generally, an EV charging station doesn’t have a toilet close by in any respect, however this was one of many cleaner public restrooms I’ve seen. We would have liked to get some money from an ATM, and so they had that, too. Plus, the ATM had a really affordable payment for my out-of-network card. They even had my favourite soda.

In different phrases, it was nearly the very best comfort retailer and fueling station I’ve ever been to, so the “flagship” was actually earned and never simply advertising and PR fluff.

So, all in all, I’d must say that this was a wonderful charging station to go to. The charging went effectively, the services had been wonderful, and every part was fairly priced. The stations had been placing a minimal pressure on the native electrical grid, which is best for the power transition. There was actually nothing unhealthy to say concerning the expertise.

I’m hoping to see Phillips 66 unfold this flagship expertise out to different shops round the US. If everybody might have an amazing expertise charging like this, it’s going to actually assist the EV transition go much more easily.

Wish to test it out your self? Head over to 10612 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042.

Featured picture by Jennifer Sensiba.




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