Since electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, they are gaining more popularity than ever. Environmental responsibility is a key factor in the surge among consumers along with the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) requiring automakers to produce more eco-friendly vehicles. Hence, businesses are offering charging stations to accommodate EV drivers.
EV’s offer a significant reduction of emissions because they are powered by electricity produced by solar panels or wind turbines. In the event, an EV must rely on a fossil fuel-powered electrical grid, the emissions are still reduced because combustion engines in vehicles are more harmful to the environment than power plants that use fossil fuels.
Charging an Electric Vehicles
Vehicles that are fueled by electricity from a power grid are called plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). To fully utilize your EV, you will need to regularly charge the battery. Battery charging times are determined by these two main factors
- Battery capacity – PEV batteries are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), depending on the type of vehicle, range from 4 to 90 kWh.
- Features of the Charging Stations – charging speed and capacity limits.
Three Classes of Electric Charging Stations
The electric grid that an EV is plugged into is called the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). The EVSE is classified into three major categories, based on the amount of power required from the grid to charge the battery.
1. Level 1 – Provides a charge through a standard household 120 Volt – 3-prong plug and delivers 2 to 5 miles range per hour (RPH) of charging depending on the manufacturer specifications of the car and battery. With a Level 1 charge, to add 40 miles of range the battery will take 8-20 hours of charging time.
Level 1 only has a narrow amount of usefulness and works best on very short trips.
2. Level 2 – Provides a charge through a 208-240 V for a residential or commercial power supply that offers a 10 to 30 RPH charge. Since it has higher voltages, Level 2 charging stations require additional installation of charging equipment that is either configured to a network or a stand-alone system.
Level 2 works best if the vehicle is available for longer charging times maybe overnight or all day at work.
3. DC Fast Charge – (Previously known as Level 3) provides a charge through a 208-480 V three-phase power and required specialized equipment in the vehicle and charging unit. The DC fast charge rarely works with the Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. These powerful charging levels are normally found in public charging stations designed by electrical engineers to provide a quick charge. In just 15 to 45 minutes they can deliver 100-200 RPH depending on the battery type, the depletion percentage, and capacity.
The DC Fast Charge is great for long-distance trips and serves best when the charging time is less than one hour. If the vehicle is parked longer than an hour, it is often a waste of resources.
As automakers have stepped up the game on designing EVs, and public charging stations are becoming more available, the desire for these low-emission vehicles is booming.
Author Bio: Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of Chicago Engineers. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech class of 2004, with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with honors. His innovative approach to MEP engineering comes from graduating GE’s Engineering Leadership Program, where he designed wind turbines and biofuel power plant engines. Michael’s passion within design is energy efficiency and green technology.