Yes, EV chargepoints are now off the menu. If you want one bolted onto the side of your house, go call in some other mug. Why? Because they’re all shite. Don’t bother reading on, there’s nothing more you need to know.
Oh, hey, really? You’re still reading this?? So you're the one who can’t follow simple instructions huh buddy?
Okay then, seeing as you seemingly do want to know, there are three reasons why EV chargers are a misery to undertake as a job…
Number 1. Cheap-ass competition
The problem with the whole clean/green/renewables market is that a bunch of bandwagon-jumpers jump onto the… uh… bandwagon… and offer “staple-it-on-quick” installations which sees some fuck-ugly and, often, electrically questionable, work undertaken at headline prices which conscientious installers such as yours truly cannot compete with. The result for the customer is something that has the aesthetic appearance of a rhino’s rectum and often works only long enough for the installer to bag the money before legging it and shutting up shop, only for them to then reopen under a new name with a clean record and a strong line in plausible deniability for anything their lads put in previously. Legitimate operators are usually left to mop up the mess further down the line while themselves looking like the bad guys for pointing out how awfully it all was installed in the first friggin’ place!
Number 2. Cheap-ass hardware
Show me (pretty much) any EV charger on the market today and I’ll show you a nasty server-dependant, app-dependant, over-complicated nightmare piece-of-shit which costs hundreds of beer tokens to buy, and yet will probably be inoperable in five years’ time. Why? Because the manufacturer won’t be around anymore. Or they’ll have been bought out and their wares discontinued to get rid of the support burden. Or the hardware will have been obsoleted in favour of Chargepoint 2.0. Or it was just a load of cheaply made garbage in the first place. Or their app is too buggy to work with your silly new iPhone. Or any one of a hundred reasons why it’s not in anyone’s interests to sell you a box on the wall that lasts more than a couple o’ bloody years.
3. Cheap-ass support
The nail-in-the-coffin for us was to recently install two chargepoints by a manufacturer whose installer documentation out-of-the-box was notably absent and whose technical helpline seemingly consisted of one geezer who, when not noshing on his cheese sandwiches at lunchtime or engaged on the phone to some other desperate sap, simply reeled off a load of bollocks about how things should be working when they patently weren’t, all while we were the stupid looking dickheads who happened to be stood in front of the paying customer. If you can’t rely on a manufacturers’ technical support when you’re the prat getting the hot asshole in front of the client coughing up the cash, then what chance does any installer have out in the field?
Yeah, those are the three fucking reasons… oh, but wait…
4. Ongoing I.T. support implications… for us.
Okay, I don’t want to get all Monty Python “Spanish inquisition” on the numbering here, but there is a fourth reason that happens to show up just in time to boil the Carlsberg fragrant foam from offa my piss as I angrily type this, and that’s our being called upon eighteen months post-install because our customer happens to have changed their smartphone or internet provider and they need help in getting things talking to their chargepoint again! We’re sparky’s, not I.T. nerds. Has it got power? Yes? Then why the hell are we getting involved in datacomms??
In a case of classic timing, the day after this article was originally published, Neil Bridgeman popped up on Twatter to say he'd been notified of his four year old Zappi being frozen out of firmware, unlike model 2.0 of course, which rather reinforces point 2 above. It looks like Neil risks losing the feature that allows his Zappi to divert solar energy to his car which, I'm sure you'll agree, is a pretty useful thing you wouldn't want to stop working. I suspect that feature was also a major selling point when Neil chose what chargepoint to whack onto his wall not so long ago.
I've no experience of them myself, but Myenergi, makers of Zappi, are one of the better considered chargepoint manufacturers from what I've seen on electrical social media over the years, and their online presence lauds up their belief of contributing to a better, cleaner, greener world. Their Twitter bio reads as "We believe in the electric revolution and we commit to pioneering a simple and sustainable transition to renewable energy". Uh-huh. And how many Zappi 1's have they potentially just obsoleted? I'm glad I haven't installed any of these - I wouldn't want to be having an awkward conversation with any past customers as to why it no longer works as it used to and why the expensive charger I sold them not so long ago is potentially now e-waste.
Another company, Anderson EV, makers of premium chargers and a recommended partner for some high-end automotive marques, went into administration last autumn. Fortunately, it was bought up by Evios who also took on support and warranties for the existing product range and customer base. Had Anderson not been bought, or had the terms of the buy-out been different, those with Anderson chargers would likely have found the servers getting switched off which would have ended any app support, firmware upgrades, centralised control, technical support and access to spares. There were a few Porsche owners with puckered-up sphincters last Halloween I imagine.
There is, literally, nobody you can trust. Small brands may disappear or be bought out by bigger brands who want to kill off the competition. Large faceless outfits such as British Gas with their Hive gear would have no qualms over obsoleting an older model, and they won't care how much you moan about them on social media. Reknown chargepoint manufacturers who do make a big splash on social media about ethical business and doing the right thing by installers and end-users, will eventually show their true colours when they figure they can sell you a whole new box in short order under the threat that the old one will lose features, be booted off server support or left lacking critical updates.
The whole EV thing is a load of blarney, so I’m going to spaff off about it here for once and for all with Father Time being the judge of whether I end up being right or wrong, although the booze will likely have finished me off before I get to see the eventual outcome for myself.
Electric vehicles are the future.
That’s true: Assuming the future allows for the personal and mass transport of humans and World War 3 hasn’t reduced us all to a depressingly lawless Mad-Max post-apocalyptic hellhole. - Picture Birmingham, but applied countrywide. Yeah... horrifying.
Mass individual transport battery-based vehicles are the future:
That’s false: At least, unless such conveyances have power packs that can quickly and conveniently be brought back up to their full welly.
We, as in all of us stupid humans, in all countries around the world, currently have an established service station network that profits from our recharging our vehicular fuel supply on-the-go, whether that be petrol, diesel, LPG or whatever. These multimillion-dollar organisations aren’t about to disappear overnight without a fight, like it or not, and Joe Average doesn’t want to wait two hours for his EV batteries to charge sufficiently so that he can drive another 90 minutes toward Cornwall with the desperate hope of finding a working chargepoint when he gets there, so the solution is perhaps one of two things: a battery swap, or a technology which can ‘re-gas’ the energy supply of any electric vehicle.
For the former, all manufacturers would have to adhere to a common baseplate and voltage so that we can all rock up, whether in a Hyundai or a Jaguar, and be automatically changed out within minutes.
Well, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon! Even if that were the way forward, how can an SUV or a commercial van have anything like the same capacity as a city runabout or sports car? You could have different lanes in a “Replenishment Station” I guess, but then you’re introducing inefficiencies that go against the grain of the marketplace, and the mechanics of the thing would be terribly complicated.
A re-gas solution would see something such as hydrogen or a charged electrical juice, gas or gel recharging a depleted fuel tank. It would have to be quick and by the litre, kilogram, bar (or equivalent), and common to all makes/models to compare to what we’re used to with the delivery of petrol or diesel today.
Does such a technology evade us at present? I very much doubt it personally, and maybe it’ll happen with hydrogen, but market forces at this time dictate that motor manufacturers all want to sell us a slow-charge battery vehicle which, in a few years, will be entirely obsolete and materially worthless when their quick ‘refillable’ models start landing in the showrooms. The moment these mythical motors hit the highways, the second-hand market for today’s battery cars will crash in a fireball faster than a Tesla on autopilot.
Don’t take me as some typical aluminium-foil hat asshole; I do believe electric cars are the future, but I’ve also been the owner of one and I can report the performance claimed by the manufacturer was nothing like reality. The electric public charging network is also a mess. Imagine if we’d just invented petrol cars – it would be a nightmare with today’s technical expectations. You wouldn’t be able to stop at any fuel station without having their specific app to even dispense the fookin' fuel in the first place! Going on a long journey? Better install the Shell app on your smartphone. And the Esso app. And the BP app. And the Texaco app. Oh, and don’t forget all the individual supermarkets – no point trying to stick your nozzle in if you can’t log into your Tesco Clubcard or Nectar account… which rather reminds me of a cheap hooker whose acquaintance I used to frequent…
...anyway, unlike many, I also had the advantage of a driveway for the convenience of time-consuming (overnight) charging of my own EV jalopy, but not everyone has such, so if home charging is not a long-term answer for the masses, then what is? Getting the smelly proles off the road entirely in favour of low-cost and efficient public transport, or a fast-recharging network that remains accessible to all the smelly proles?
Low-cost and efficient public transport are words that will probably never go together in a sentence without sarcasm, and even if it were the case that one could hop onto a mass-transit system without being fleeced, none of us want to sit next to today’s style of degenerate commuter who happens to be openly watching Xhamster with his hand down his trousers, nor do we want to be dropped off at a stop, station or terminus that’s any inconvenient distance from our intended destination.
I guess the answer depends on how the world continues to turn soon after I've passed caring and sober up for the final time to angrily meet the massive wanker who put me on this fucking planet in the first place – and, I assure you, they’ll be getting an earful that fateful day.
Meanwhile, I’m not pissing around with anymore stupid EV chargepoints. Well... not unless you’ve bought it and you’ll support it after I’ve simply, although correctly and professionally, connected it up and waltzed off to the pub with your money in my pocket.
EV chargers? I’ve shit ‘em mate.