Comprehensive EV Charging Guide

September 19, 2019

Comprehensive EV Charging Guide

Comprehensive EV Charging Guide - Everything you need to know!

Electric vehicle charging is an important aspect of EV ownership. With power ratings, connector types, cable requirements and vehicle specifications to consider.

Given the wide range of charging solutions available, you may have no idea where to start. We’ll break down the basics of electric vehicle charging, the different “levels” of charging available, and help you understand how to use them. We will help alleviate any concerns you may have, in addressing the questions you may have already asked yourself, so that the process isn’t as complicated as what it might’ve been before finding this information.

Charging Technology 

Fundamentally, the batteries that power an electric vehicle are like a supersized version of the battery within your cellphone. Batteries hold direct current (DC) electricity and deliver it on demand - for when you would turn on the cell phone on, or step on the accelerator pedal in an electric car. 

Charging an electric car is really simple, you just plug it it. But the size of the battery means it takes more electricity, and a lot more time off on a standard outlet, to recharge. 

How fast an electric car recharges is dependant on 3 things: 

  1. How much electricity your vehicle can draw from the source - a 9.6 kW line supplies more electricity than a 1.4 kW line can, resulting in higher charging speeds. 
  2. How much electricity the car can accept - if an electric car can only accept up to 6.6 kW, it will limit a 9.6 kW line to 6.6 kW.
  3. The size of the battery - a larger battery takes longer to charger than a smaller one. 

Electric car drivers have control over the multiple ‘levels’ of charging, referring to how much power they’ll supply to your battery. 

Level 1 - When you plug an electric car into a standard 120- volt household power outlet, you get Level 1 charging. This makes it by far the most accessible type of charging. The majority of vehicles today are sold with a Level 1 cord set as secondary means of charging, but are primarily charged using a charging station. 

However, Level 1 charging is the slowest form of charging available, capable of replenishing 100km of range over an eight-hour overnight charge. This charging is suitable for slow and medium range plug-in-hybrids and for all-electric battery vehicle drivers with low daily driving usage.

Level 2 -  This charging uses 240-volt power, same as what’s used for high-power appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, and air-conditioners. While it’s becoming common for new houses to come with optional 240-volt power in garages specifically for electric vehicle charging, some existing homes do not have a set up. 

Electric vehicles owners usually have 240-volt line run into their garage, where they can connect Level 2 electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE). Level 2 charging at home is compatible for the vast majority of EV driver’s regular needs. The Level 2 charging stations come in a variety of amperages typically ranging from 16 to 40 amps. The charging rate typically depends on the vehicles acceptance rate and the maximum current available.

Level 2 charging is available at public charging stations. They’re a convenient choice to use when you’re out and about and away from home. They aren’t efficient when it comes to long journeys. That’s where Level 3, or DC fast charging comes in. 

Level 3 - These typically send DC electricity straight from the power grid into an electric car’s battery. This allows them to bypass the car’s built-in charging limit and supply a huge amount of electricity in a short amount of time. Electric vehicle owners cars can get recharged and back on the road within 30 minutes, making Level 3 charging an ideal solution for long journey’s.

 

Fast charging has become a crucial element in electric vehicle infrastructure around the country. ChargeNet (within New Zealand) have invested in DC charging stations throughout the country, to further the reduce the amount of time it takes to charge a car. The Level 3 charging stations throughout the country should not be considered for daily charging needs, as regular DC charging can reduce the life of the battery.

Breakdown of charging levels 

Below is a quick breakdown of how long it takes to charge three popular battery electric vehicles at the aforementioned levels.  

Note: Level 3 charging is typically measured in time to 80% charge, as speed tappers off after that point. 

It can be seen that Level 1 charging clearly takes the longest, given the large batteries within these cars. Level 2 works best for overnight charging - the convenience of having a home charging station is one of the biggest benefits of electric vehicle ownership. Leaving your vehicle charged throughout the night, will allow you to wake up every morning with a fully charged electric vehicle. 

The future of fuelling your vehicle with electricity will be within your home, this will take away the generic model of filling up your car at a local gas station. 

While the electric vehicle infrastructure is relatively new within New Zealand, the government and other privately owned organisation are building new chargers at places throughout the country. Level 2 chargers are now available in many public places, allowing for the convenient recharging during your everyday errands. The creation of Level 3, DC infrastructure,  is giving EV owners more liberty to travel to destinations throughout the country.  

The cost of charging an electric vehicle

The cost of charging an EV is equivalent to buying petrol for 30 cents a litre. 

However the cost of electricity for charging will vary, but as an example a typical pure electric car charged on a domestic powerpoint over night (Level 1 or Level 2) will cost less than $3 per 100km, or up to $5 per 100km during the day (depending on the electricity rates). A top-up charge would be a fraction of this. If using a fast charging unit, a typical pure EV can be given as mentioned up to 80% charge in less than 20 minutes for around $4-$7 in electricity costs.

To date, most building owners or tenants have provided free charging for users, or malls and hotels have used the availability of free electric car charging as an incentive to attract business. 

As the market continues to grow, there are an increasing number of public slow and fast charging stations available around New Zealand. To further find public charing stations, visit the PlugShare website or download the app.