As suggested by its name, an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station is an establishment for recharging plug-in electric cars. One can also describe it as an element used to charge electric cars. The station consists of hi-tech equipment and infrastructure that connect electric vehicles to a source of electricity in order to charge them.
Notably, electric cars do not use gas or petroleum. Instead, they require electric energy to operate. For this reason, electric cars come equipped with several battery packs that require a recharge after a few hours.
Typically, the charge on an electric car battery lasts for a specific period of continuous use, before requiring a recharge. Essentially, you need to charge it when it runs low, similar to what you would have done when the fuel tank of a gas-propelled car runs empty. For you to recharge your vehicle, it is imperative that you drive to an EV charging station near you or use a home charger that came with the car.
This is how you use an EV charging station
Let’s face it. Many drivers and car owners are yet to join the EV bandwagon. In any case, the idea of driving electric cars is still very new. For this reason, it is understandably normal for electric vehicle owners to face a few challenges on how to use an EV charging station.
The good news is that recharging your vehicle at an EV station is easy. All you have to do is to plug in your vehicle into a designated charging port connected to an electric grid. Here are steps on how to use an EV charging station.
- Turn off your EV before charging
Importantly, you should turn off your EV before plugging the car into an outlet. It is advisable that you shut off at least a couple of hours before charging. This not only minimizes wastage of energy, but also prolongs the life of the EV battery. Moreover, the battery tends to charge faster when the vehicle is off.
- Unlock the charging connector
Electric cars use different charging connector types. For this reason, it is essential to know if your car is compatible with the type of charging connectors available at a particular EV station. In addition, most stations lock their connectors, and you have to subscribe to a charging network operator to unlock the charger.
- Lift the connector
This step is rather straightforward. All you have to do is to press the conspicuous button, next to the connector, to haul it up from the holster. The work of the holster is to protect the connector from damage when it is not in use.
- Plug in the connector
To start charging your car, you need to plug in the connector into the designated charging port. Interestingly, you have the option of choosing your preferred charging speed, ranging from slow to rapid. However, the ideal charging speed will depend on the type of charger used and your vehicle’s battery capacity.
- Allow your car to charge
The process of charging an electric vehicle takes between 30 minutes and 12 hours, depending on the type of battery and the speed of the charger used. On average, you should expect your vehicle to take about 8 hours to charge from empty to full, for a standard 60 kWh battery using a 7kW charger.
Make sure the battery is charging by checking relevant indicator lights situated on the dashboard. You might receive an alert message on your phone if you are recharging from a subscribed charging network.
- End the charging session
To end the charging session, you just need to turn off the charger by pushing the marked button on the control panel and unplug the connector from your electric vehicle. The charging station will indicate how much you need to pay for charging your car.
Preferably, you should allow the vehicle to recharge fully before ending the charging session. This will extend battery life, subsequently reducing the number of times you will need to charge your car in a day.
From the look of things, charging an EV is relatively simple. Nevertheless, a number of factors will determine the simplicity or difficulty of the charging process. Here are a few points that you ought to consider to charge your electric car effectively.
Levels of EV charging stations
One can classify EV charging stations into three levels. These include:
A Level 1 station refers to a charging point that uses a 120-Volt AC plug connected to a standard household power outlet. Level 1 charging does not require additional equipment other than the charger that came with the car. The only downside is that they tend to be slow, and can only deliver 2-5 miles of range per hour of uninterrupted charging. This makes it ideal for electric vehicles that only travel short distances.
Level 2 charging stations use a 208-Volt or a 240-Volt plug connected to a higher-output power source to charge electric vehicles. Unlike Level 1 chargers, Level 2 chargers are faster and more convenient. They can charge up to 35 miles of range per hour of charging. However, they are seemingly more complicated, and they require the expertise of a professional electrician to set up the charger.
Level 3 charging stations are undoubtedly the fastest, and they can add up to 100 miles of range within just 20 minutes. The chargers use very high voltage, ranging from 600 Volts to 1000 volts.
However, level 3 chargers are extremely expensive, and the continuous use of these chargers tends to damage the battery life. For this reason, many car experts do not recommend Level 3 chargers.
Types of Connectors
The type of connector your vehicle has will determine the speed of charging. It will also determine if you will be able to charge your vehicle at particular charging stations. With this in mind, it is important to know if your car’s connector is compatible before driving into a public charging station. Here are the most common types of EV connectors.
- SAE J1772 EV plug
The J1772 is the most common type of connector used for both Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations. In addition, it is 100% compatible with all types of electric cars.
CHAdeMO is a direct current (DC) level 3 connector installed in most public charging stations around the world. The connector is popular for its quick charging abilities. Nevertheless, you might require an adapter in order to use the connector, as it is not compatible with all EVs.
- SAE Combo (Combo Charging System)
The SAE Combo, also known as the Combo Charging System, is a high voltage DC connector used for level 3 charging. However, the connector is not universal, meaning that you have to check your EV for compatibility. Typical power ratings associated with the CCS connector include 50kW, 150kW, and 350kW.
- IEC 62196 Type 2 Connector
The IEC 62196 is the most common type of connector used for charging electric vehicles in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. It comes in a circular shape, and it consists of a flattened top edge tailored to fit into a standardized male inlet.
- Tesla HPWC
As the name implies, the Tesla HPWC is a level 2 connector designed for Tesla electric vehicles only. The connector delivers fast charging of up to 35 miles of range per hour.
What are the factors that affect charging speeds?
Charging an electric vehicle takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours, depending on the type of charger used. However, other external factors may also affect charging speeds. These include:
- Maximum charge rate
The maximum charging rate of your electric car determines the speed at which it will charge. For instance, if the maximum charge rate of your car is 3.7 kW, it will not charge any faster even if you use a charge point with a 22 kW power rating.
The same applies to the maximum charge rate of the charging station or charge point. For instance, if the charging station can only deliver 7kW of power, your vehicle will charge at a rate of 7 kW.
- Type of battery
The type and size of battery your vehicle uses significantly affect charging speeds. Essentially, bigger batteries in terms of capacity take a longer time to charge. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries charge relatively faster in comparison to other types.
- State of battery
Apparently, it takes a longer time to charge an empty battery than when you are topping up a half-full battery.
- Environmental factors
Environmental factors such as fluctuating temperatures can affect charging speeds. Essentially, colder temperatures tend to render electric vehicles less efficient subsequently lowering charging speeds.
How much does it cost to charge an EV at a charging station?
When using a public charging station, you may be required to pay for it. The costs vary from station to station. However, most charging points charge a flat connection fee and an additional rate billed per hour.
Electric vehicles are certainly the future. These cars are environmentally friendly, efficient and easy to maintain. Furthermore, the cost of operation is extremely affordable. The fact that you can charge your vehicle from home, makes it worth every dime.