How to Select the Right Electric Vehicle Charging System

BTC Power

Electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations are all over the news. With tremendous consumer demand for EVs and new federal subsidies to build a national EV charging infrastructure, retailers and property developers are moving rapidly to install chargers that will make EV charging stations quick, accessible and convenient. This is a great starting point in the journey of finding the right EV charging system and manufacturer.

However, not every site is the same, and neither is every charging station. What works for one installation may not be the right choice for another. So how do retailers decide what’s best? When faced with investing in a charger for a business or location, it pays to examine the distinctive features each technology offers to help make a better choice.

There are two basic power types available for charging an EV: Alternating current (AC)  or direct current (DC)charging platforms.

Alternating current electricity reverses its direction multiple times every second. Most power grids around the globe are based on AC current. For example, on the United States power grid,  the AC power reverses its direction 60 times every second. Transformers reduce high voltage and control the stream of power that travels from the grid into homes and businesses.

Direct current is a power source that runs in one direction only. Many modern technologies rely on DC power for their batteries. EVs, computers and LEDs rely on DC electricity.

EV batteries can only store power in DC form. EVs come with an AC to DC converter, which allows an EV to charge with an AC power source but has limitations due to spatial and thermal constraints. DC power is not restricted by an EV’s onboard converter, allowing for faster charging speeds.

The three levels of speed for EV charging equipment, including AC and DC chargers

There are three levels for charging units that each pose advantages and disadvantages, depending on the use case scenario.

Level 1

A Level 1 charger represents the slowest type of charge but perhaps the most convenient for individuals because it can operate using a standard residential outlet of 120 volts. This would be an AC charger. An empty battery can take 50 to 60 hours to charge using a Level 1 charger.

Level 2

Level 2 chargers also are AC-powered. Assorted styles of Level 2 chargers are designed to handle either residential 240-volt outlets or commercial outlets of 208 volts. A Level 2 charger is smaller than a DC charger and less expensive for the initial capital investment due to the lack of rectification components. These components significantly increase the complexity and cost of the unit. These are considered destination chargers, as it can take hours at a time to fully charge a car.

A Level 2 charger can charge a completely empty EV battery in anywhere from four to 10 hours, and a hybrid vehicle battery within one to two hours. These are easy to install in almost any location, from an individual’s garage or home to small businesses.

An example of a Level 2 charging system is the L2 Single Port, which is offered in 30 amps, can function as a wall-mounted or pedestal option and is also available in duel port. It offers quick release from the power connections and is small and lightweight for more economical shipping, storage and installation.

Level 2 chargers are available as single phase or split phase options. Their benefits include initial cost, size, and ease of installation. However, buyers should be aware that as with any AC charger, the speed is slower than a DC charger.

Possible use case scenarios may be a workplace where staff is on location for several hours. Another use case would include destination locations or anywhere that patrons would stay for several hours or overnight to allow adequate time for charging. These could include hotels, multi-family complexes, resorts or even entertainment facilities.

Wall-mounted or pedestal versions of Level 2 chargers come in 30-, 40-, and 70-amp versions. Pedestal chargers can stand alone near sidewalks or spaced out in a parking lot, if they are connected underground to the power grid. The 70-amp Level 2 charger is designed for fleets and commercial vehicles, such as buses, or delivery vans, parked overnight in a dedicated lot.

DC Fast-Chargers (Level 3)

Level 3 chargers are DC chargers, which output DC to the vehicle. Rapid chargers will have kilowatt (kW) capabilities of 50 kW and up. The higher the kW capability, the faster it will charge. These are much faster than any AC-type charger, as it converts AC to DC within the charger and bypasses an EVs onboard AC to DC converter, charging the battery directly.

A rapid charger can charge a compatible EV from zero or empty to 80% in less than an hour. BTC POWER recently introduced its GEN4 180-kW All-In-One (AiO) DC fast charger, supplying enough power to reach 80% on an EV battery in as little as 12.5 minutes.

Fast chargers with this level of power transfer, such as the 180 kW All-In-One charger, meet use case scenarios where there are larger vehicles or a quick turnaround benefits the business owner. This could include fleet operators for transit shuttles, school buses and other specialty vehicles, or, on the retail side, fueling stations, convenience stores and retail outlets.

The footprint on these fast-charging stations is sized similar to a standard gasoline pump and the stations are built with sufficient charging capabilities to adapt to increased power capacity of future vehicles.

BTC POWER offers unique and customizable charging station options for either AC or DC power. Still unsure which power source might be best? With an installed base of more than 20,000 charging stations worldwide, BTC Power is the ideal partner as an EV charger supplier to help retailers sort through technology options. To learn more, visit www.btcpower.com.

This post is sponsored by BTC Power


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