Are you thinking that Electric Vehicle charging stations must be huge and will have to go to a station every time you need to charge your electric vehicle? Well, charging your electric vehicle isn’t a huge task, it’s simple and easy. Charging stations for electric vehicles are flexible enough to install in outdoors (on an exterior wall) or indoors (in your garage), inside your property. This means you can charge your electric vehicle at your home itself and doesn’t need to go searching for a station to charge your electric vehicle before leaving for any important work. Sounds great, right? As Electric Vehicles is the future of technology in automobiles, the bar of sales in electric vehicles is going up and hence people are also learning how to charge their electric vehicles at home for easy access.
And due to the increase in pollution day by day, it has become pre-eminent to switch to a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. If you’re among the people who own an electric vehicle or are planning to own an electric vehicle and for that reason want to install an electric vehicle charging station right at your home, it’s probably time to take a glimpse at the best EV chargers for your needs. When picking one, many factors should be taken into consideration. In this article, we’re going to tell you about those factors. Besides, we will also talk about how to understand charging levels and how to apply them as per your needs. This will permit you to make a well-informed decision.
Know your EV
The first and foremost thing that you must know about your electric vehicle is its need for energy to work efficiently. This parameter can be easily known through the datasheet or the specs of your electric vehicle. In Electric cars DC batteries are used because it holds a maximum energy capacity once they are fully charged, this is kWh parameter. For instance, for the Kia Soul EV 2019 model’s battery capacity is 31.8kWh.
Understand the different EV charging station levels
The Electric Vehicle charging station just simply acts as the point of transferring the energy from the grid to your vehicle, however, all the process of charging electric vehicles is performed inside the vehicle’s onboard charger itself. In this device, there is an inbuilt conversion for converting alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) through an electronic rectifier that lets the battery charge in DC.
Now, let’s see the three categories of charging stations that are eventually linked to the three levels of charge.
The first level of charge (level 1) is already included in all-electric cars at the time of purchase. Under level 1, the electric vehicle can be connected to any standard 120V AC wall outlet such as the NEMA 5-15 and can provide power up to 3kW with 8-16 hours of average charging speed. This charger J1772, a standard connector, which allows you to charge any electric vehicle.
The second level of charge (level 2) is needed to be installed with a charging station and connected to a supply of 240V. This type of charger can provide power ranging from 3kW to 22kW (depending on the electric vehicle brand) with ampere range between 15A and 50A. Unlike the previous models, with level 2 chargers charging times can be reduced to 3-8 hours. Such a type of charging station can be installed at your home since it permits you to increase the charging rate and can that too with small modifications. This type of charger also utilizes the J1772 connector and can also be installed either inside or outside the house (depending on the type of enclosure of the charging station).
Finally, the third level (level 3) is known as the DC Fast Charge (DCFC). This is the fastest charging station (that charges as fast as 30 minutes) but with its fastest speed comes to the highest price i.e. level 3 charging station is expensive. It also needs a supply of 480V DC which is unavailable in most of the households, therefore, it is highly suited for companies and commercial applications.
Choose the Corresponding Charging Station Level
Based on the above two sections, you will be able to find out the minimum hours that you need to charge your EV on regular days.
We can know this by using kWh capacity of the battery and then dividing it by the power output of the charger. For instance, the level 2 charger of Siemens US2 has a 7.2kW power output. If we use Siemens US2 level 2 charger to charge the 2019 model of the Kia Soul EV car, then we would need 31.8kWh/7.2kW=4.41 hours.
Based on this charging time and your daily driving patterns, you will be able to figure out the type of charger that you need for your EV. If by using a level 1 charger, you are lacking time to fully charge your EV to reach the required miles per day, then you will need to upgrade the charging station by installing a level 2 model.
Adapting your site
Once you have decided on the type of charging level that you want to install at home for your EV (level 1 or 2), the next comes to adapting your site. Depending on the suitable charging station for your EV, you’ll be able to install it both indoor or outdoor, or only indoor. This directly relates to the enclosure type of the charger and cable. If the charging station is suited for outdoors, then it probably has a have NEMA 4 type enclosure or higher as it is a waterproof charging station. While buying it, the manufacturer will inform you if the charger is suitable for outdoor conditions (including rain and snow) or not.
Figure 1. Enclosure types. Source: Clipper Creek
If it is only for indoor use, then there will be no other alternative than to install it inside your garage. Always remember that even if the charger needs to be installed indoors), the car can still be charged from outside by running the 25-foot charging cable that the charging station is likely to have, no matter if it’s raining or not. This is useful information for those who have enough space to install an indoor level 2 charger inside their garage but do not have enough space to park the car inside. If you have any intention to do this, remember not to entirely close your garage; leave a small gap so that the cable does not suffer underneath the weight of the garage door.
Figure 2. Indoor EV charging station. Source: Rolecserv
Meanwhile, in the cases where both indoor and outdoor charging is possible and you go with outdoor installations, you should install a hardwire 240V because it provides the best weather protection for electrical power connections. An outdoor installation of a plug-in unit is also an option, but for that watertight cover for the plug and the outlet, the combination is needed. And for outdoor installation, the plug-in must be attached to a freestanding pole or an external wall for charging your EV as can be seen in figure 3.
Figure 3. External plug-in for EV charger. Source: Rolecserv
No matter where you install the EV charging station, inside or outside the garage, a 240V outlet for level 2 chargers is needed. For this purpose, it is recommended to have a dedicated circuit in the main electrical panel of the household. Remember that in some cases, your main electrical panel may not have enough space to install a 2-pole breaker for the charger, therefore, you will have to install a separate panel-board. Besides, it also includes a dedicated conduit that runs from the panel-board to the location of EV supply equipment. Additionally, four new wires through the new conduit need to be added – a ground wire, common wire, and two phases which will be attached to the double-pole breaker. For this installation hire a professional electrician who will verify the building codes according to the needs. Remember that the EV charging station should always be mounted on a concrete base.
Finally, through Ethernet cables or with local Wi-Fi networks some charging stations will be able to communicate. This communication is foremost for managing the user interface and messaging for charging schedules. Therefore, the availability of a good Wi-Fi connection should be considered when assessing the sites for the installation of the charging station. If unavailable, especially in the garage (Indoor), then considering signal repeaters would be wise.