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EV Charging: Everything You Need to Know

Before diving deep into EV charging, did you know that the first electric carriage was built in the 1830s by a Scottish, Robert Anderson? A hundred years later, electric cars were all the rage. But it wasn’t until after World War II that gasoline-powered cars took over, and the electric car was forgotten.

Until recently, of course.

With concerns about climate change, fossil fuels, and air pollution, there’s a renewed interest in electric vehicles (EVs). Some companies are even vowing that they will stop at nothing until every car on the road is electric and emits zero emissions. Is this practical or just a pipe dream?

One of the biggest barriers to electric cars’ wider adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure.

In January 2022, the U.S. had almost 113,600 charging outlets for electric vehicles. Many of these EV chargers can be found in California, with nearly 41,300 public and private charging outlets. More EV charging outlets are essential to increase electric vehicle sales and accelerate adoption.

Projections suggest that there will be close to 8 million public charging outlets in Europe and North America by 2025. This is good news for electric vehicle owners, as it will make charging much easier and more convenient and will go a long way to alleviate range anxiety.

EV charger installers are accelerating the deployment of EV charging stations to try and meet the required numbers, but many still feel the charging infrastructure isn’t being deployed fast enough. Barriers to the deployment of the infrastructure include limited power available from the electric grid and expensive grid upgrades. By utilizing battery storage and EV charging, these barriers can be removed speeding up the rollout rate.

Let’s look at EV charging – what it is, how it works, and some of the different types of chargers.

WHAT IS EV CHARGING?

EV charging refers to transferring electrical energy from an external source into an electric vehicle to charge its battery. The most common type of EV charger is a plug-in charger, which plugs into a standard wall outlet. EV charging at its most simplest level is similar to that of mobile phone charging, you need an electrical outlet and a charging cable. You plug the charging cable into the charging inlet in your electric vehicle and your vehicle’s battery will begin to charge. EV charging begins to get a little more complicated when you look at the different types of charging that are available.

HOW DOES EV CHARGING WORK?

You need to know two types of electrical current: AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). A wall outlet generates AC energy. A battery stores energy as DC; therefore, the electricity needs to be converted from AC into DC before reaching the electric vehicle battery.

AC-type EV charging outlets deliver AC power into the electric vehicle; an onboard charger built inside the car then converts power from AC to DC and then feeds it into the vehicle battery. This process happens automatically whenever you plug your vehicle into an AC-type charger. This is the most common method of charging an electric vehicle today, and most EV chargers installed deliver AC power.

DC-type EV chargers convert AC power to DC within the charger before the power is fed to the car. This allows for fast charging speeds as DC-type charging goes straight to the vehicle battery and bypasses the need to convert AC to DC inside the vehicle. Not all types of electric vehicles can use a DC charger.

Unlike traditional gasoline-powered cars, where you can refuel anywhere (even on the side of the road), charging an electric vehicle is a little more complex. You need to find an EV charger and connect your car using a cable.

TYPES OF EV CHARGERS

There are three main types of EV charging outlets:

  • Level 1 or slow
  • Level 2 or fast
  • Level 3 or rapid / ultra-fast

The main difference between the three levels of EV charging is their amperage (current) – which affects how fast your electric vehicle charges. There is also off grid electric car charging and wireless EV charging which is quickly being pushed onto the market.

LEVEL 1 CHARGER (1 – 1.8 kW)

This EV charger plugs into a standard wall outlet (120 Volts). It’s the slowest type of charger and uses a J1772 EV connector in North America and Canada. As the standard household electricity in Europe is 230 Volts, nearly double the voltage used in North America, there is no level 1 charging.

An hour charge from a level 1 charger is enough to give your vehicle between 3 to 7 miles of range. The charger takes around 12-18 hours to entirely charge a standard battery electric car (BEV). Unless you’re charging your car at home, this charger is not very practical. Although a level 1 charger may be good for the battery life, a vehicle needs to be convenient. You don’t want to spend a whole day waiting for your car to charge fully. All BEVs and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) can use level 1 chargers.

If you use your car regularly, you’ll likely need to find a level 2 or level 3 EV charger. Most level 1 chargers are used only as a backup when you can’t find level 2 or 3 chargers available.

LEVEL 2 CHARGER (3 – 22 kW)

If you have a standard battery electric vehicle, you’ll need a level 2 charger. Level 2 chargers use a 208 Volt to 240 Volt outlet in North America and a 230 Volt (single-phase) or 400 Volt (three-phase) outlet in Europe. The connector type for North America, Canada and Japan is J1772 (type 1) and for Europe its a Mennekes (type 2) connector. A level 2 charger can provide between 10 to 75 miles of range for an hour charge.

Level 2 charging is the most common type used in public charging stations. Level 2 charging equipment can be installed at home, at the workplace, and in many public places such as hotels, airports, and train stations. You’ll be likely to find one when you’re out and about.

It takes 4-6 hours to charge your car’s battery pack. If you charge your EV overnight, your vehicle will be fully charged in the morning. Having a level 2 charger installed at your home is the most convenient way to keep your car battery topped up.

Both level 1 and level 2 type EV chargers deliver AC power to to the vehicle.

LEVEL 3 CHARGER (15 – 350+ kW)

Level 3 chargers are often called DCFC – Direct Current Fast Chargers or ‘Superchargers.’ They are the fastest and most powerful EV charging option available. A level 3 charger converts AC to DC within the charger itself, resulting in faster power delivery to the electric vehicle battery; it can fully charge a standard electric car in 20 minutes.

Level 3 charging stations are often found at public service stations near motorways or highways as they are suitable for use on longer journeys. There are several other locations where faster charging is becoming more popular, including supermarkets, big box stores, distribution centers, short stay car parks, and taxi hubs. Any place where people park for short periods or where faster charging is more applicable due to vehicle usage, think delivery companies or fleet vehicles.

The demand for faster-charging stations utilizing DC power increases with larger vehicles such as buses and trucks transitioning over to electric. There are collaborations within the industry developing even faster chargers that can deliver up to 1MW of rated power. These types of high voltage, high power output chargers come with their challenges as the electric grid infrastructure doesn’t exist in the locations where they are needed. In areas where power is available, the demand charge spikes would be huge.

Types of EV charging connectors

There are four different types of level 3 connectors:

  • CHAdeMO (CHArge de MOve)
  • CCS (Combined Charging System)
  • Tesla Supercharger
  • GB/T

CHAdeMO Connectors

CHAdeMO is the official standard in Japan; almost all level 3 DC chargers in Japan use CHAdeMO connectors. In North America and Europe, a few car brands use CHAdeMO, such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. However, Nissan switched to CCS for all new North America and Europe models in 2021. CHAdeMO connectors, unlike CCS, do not share part of their connector with the type 1 or type 2 inlets. This means vehicles will need an additional CHAdeMO inlet, resulting in more space being taken by two separate charging sockets.

CCS Connectors

There are two types of CCS connectors; CCS Type 1 is used in North America and Canada; it uses the J1772 charging inlet and has two additional pins below. It ‘combines’ the J1772 connector with high speeding charging plugs, which is how it gets its name ‘Combined Charging system.’ In Europe, the same principle applies; however, the CCS connector combines the Mennekes Type 2 inlet with the high-speed charging pins; in Europe, this is known as CCS Type 2. Almost every automaker in the USA and Europe has agreed to use CCS Type 1 or Type 2 as the industry standard.

Tesla Supercharger Connectors

Tesla’s proprietary connector uses the same design for Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 fast charge. It can accept any voltage, so there is no need to switch connectors between AC and DC type EV charging. Only Tesla cars can use the Tesla connector to charge their vehicle. There are adapters available that allow Tesla drivers to charge their vehicles using other DC fast chargers with different connectors, however Tesla’s superchargers are only available for use by Tesla cars as they utilize an authentication process that identifies the vehicle as Tesla before allowing in power to be distributed. Tesla are currently trialling their superchargers to be used by non-Tesla vehicles

GB/T Connectors

GB/T is the standard used by automakers in China, which is currently the worlds largest electric vehicle market.

DO ALL EV’S USE THE SAME CHARGERS?

As you can see from the different types of connectors available for both Level 2 and Level 3 EV chargers not all electric vehicles can use all types of electric vehicle chargers, there is no universal plug used worldwide.

There are however, a number of adapters available on the market that can enable you to charge your electric vehicle with a different type of charger. For instance Tesla’s CHAdeMO and CCS adapters allow your car to be charged at non-Tesla public charging stations.

WHAT IS WIRELESS EV CHARGING?

You will undoubtedly be familiar with wireless changing if you have a high-end smartphone. The wireless charging of an electric vehicle works similarly; you can charge the EV battery without connecting the car to a charging cable.

Wireless EV charging relies on resonant magnetic induction to distribute energy being a pad on the ground and another pad under the chassis of an electric vehicle. The ground charging pad can come in different sizes depending on the type of electric vehicle it intends to charge and is much bigger than that under the car. When the two charging pads are aligned, charging can begin. Wireless EV charging is not compatible with all EVs, and charging speeds can differ between providers. There is no doubt that wireless charging will be included in the mix of EV charging solutions available in the future.  

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CHARGE AN EV?

The time it takes to charge your electric vehicle depends on a number of different factors. These include:

  • Type of EV charger – The time your EV takes to charge will be limited by the maximum charging rate (output power) of the charger you are using. For example, if your vehicle can accept a 50kW charge rate, but you are only connecting to a 7kW charger, your car can only take 7kW, which means a longer charging duration than, say, using a 22kW or a 50kW Ev charger.
  • Size of vehicle battery – The larger the battery pack in your vehicle, measured in kWh, the longer it will take to charge.
  • State of charge of vehicle battery – If your battery is only 10% full, it will take longer to charge than if you were topping it up from, say, half full, 50% state of charge.
  • Charging rate of your EV – You can only charge an EVs battery at the maximum charging rate that that vehicle can accept. For instance, if your car has a maximum charger rate of 22kW, you will not be able to use a 50kW charge to charge it faster.
  • The temperature – As EV battery packs are lithium-based, colder temperatures can take a bit longer to charge, especially with DC fast chargers.

With that being said here are some general charging times based on different EV charger types.

EV Charger TypeRated Power (kW)Miles (Range) per HourUser Cases
Level 1 (AC)1 – 1.8 kW3 – 7 milesHome
Level 2 (AC)3 – 22 kW10 – 75 milesWorkplace, Hotels, Airports
Level 3 (DCFC)30 – 350 kW175 – 1200 milesRoadside travel, Fleets, Short Stay

In summary, the time it takes to charge an EV can be as little as 20 minutes or more than 12 hours, depending on the pre-mentioned factors. In general, the bigger your car’s battery pack and the slower the charging station, the longer it will take to charge your EV.

Most EV drivers charge whenever they get the opportunity where they park, whether this is overnight at home or a hotel or during the day at their workplace, or even while shopping at the supermarket. Instead of letting their EV battery run empty and then recharge, they use the opportunity to keep their battery topped up by charging their EVs when they are parked. Combining home charging overnight and top-up charging during the day is an effective way to keep your EV charged. However, this isn’t always possible with many people not having access to home charging due to being in apartment complexes or having no off-street parking; in this case, they must rely on public EV charging infrastructure only.

HOW MUCH DOES EV CHARGING COST?

Although charging your electric car at home is the cheapest and most convenient option, you may still need to use public charging stations from time to time.

Charging your car at a public station usually costs between $0.30 and $0.60 per kWh, which is significantly more expensive than charging at home. However, this price may vary depending on the location and type of charger, DC fast chargers will generally cost more to use than Level 2 AC chargers due to their higher charging power.

For example, Tesla owners have to pay a fee to use Tesla Superchargers, which can be up to $0.30 per kWh in some areas. However, if you bought a Tesla before 2017, you can charge for free.

Taking these average costs, you need $10-$25 to charge your car.

There are also several companies that offer EV charging for free. These include retailers and restaurants that want to attract more customers. Employers can also provide free EV charging stations as a benefit to attract EV driving employees or entice current employees to drive electric cars.

The charging cost also varies depending on the type of charger and the location. However, most people find that charging their car at home is more affordable than at a public station.

In short, EV charging is a convenient way to keep your car powered up while on the go. Whether you’re using a home or public charging station, there are plenty of options. Just be sure to do your research and use the correct charger for your EV..

Categories: Blog, Evesco

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BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE FOR EV CHARGING

Discover the benefits of combing EV charging with battery energy storage to help accelerate EV charging station deployment.

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