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Greenlight's new electric-car recharger comes at a price

With an array of electric cars coming to the market the next few years, the chargers for the cars are starting to pop up as well, but they come at a price!

The ChargeBar has illuminated sockets to take the guesswork out of plug location.

Washington based start-up Greenlight is launching a new charger aimed at electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but it's not exactly cheap.

The ChargeBar can charge both 120-volt (the standard U.S. household socket) and 240-volt batteries, and the company says it will work with virtually any electric car or plug-in hybrid, including the upcoming GM Volt.

The exception is electric cars that use 480-volt charging, which according to the company is not yet an established standard for upcoming electric cars.

A number of electric sedans are planned for market introduction in the next two years. But automakers say that establishing a charging infrastructure in public places is critical for their acceptance with consumers.

The charging time for the ChargeBar will be about seven to eight hours for 110-volt cars, and about four hours for 240-volt cars. The charger will cost $3,200 including installation--not exactly cheap. That is the equivalent of 1,300 gallons of gas in California today.

The product is aimed at the consumer market: indoor garages, family houses, businesses, and institutions such as museums.

However, the charger has no billing mechanism.

"In our first release, there is no point-of-charge mechanism," said Max Brown, partner and co-founder of Greenlight. "Right now it is only about a dollar a day to charge a car."

Instead, Greenlight hopes companies and institutions see the charger as an amenity to attract customers, tenants, and employees.

Unlike the DOE lab smart controller, the charger doesn't have a function that allows car owners to customize their electric charging based on demand and price profiles.

Recharging at peak hours could not only be more costly for the user, but German World Wildlife Foundation said in a recent study that it could cause grid overload at peak hours. Greenlight says this concern is exaggerated.

"There is plenty of grid capacity for the number of cars we are talking about, certainly the first couple of years," Brown said.

Currently, the ChargeBar is in its final testing phase.

Manufacturing is expected to start in three months, and no orders have been placed yet. Greenlight will primarily market to the East Coast, with deliveries expected in the first quarter of 2010.

The ChargeBar, shown in a prototype rendering, will comply with electrical safety standards for electric-vehicle recharging units to make sure that recharging an electric car is safe, according to the manufacturer. Greenlight