An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point, charge point, electronic charging station (ECS), and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of plug-in electric vehicles—including electric cars, neighborhood electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids.
For charging at home or work, some electric vehicles have converters onboard that can plug into a standard electrical outlet or a high-capacity appliance outlet. Others either require or can use a charging station that provides electrical conversion, monitoring, or safety functionality. These stations are also needed when traveling, and many support faster charging at higher voltages and currents than are available from residential EVSEs. Public charging stations are typically on-street facilities provided by electric utility companies or located at retail shopping centers, restaurants, and parking places, operated by a range of private companies.
Charging stations provide a range of heavy-duty or special connectors that conform to the variety of standards. For common DC rapid charging, multi-standard chargers equipped with two or three of the Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO, and AC fast charging have become the de facto market standard in many regions...
The charging time depends on the battery capacity and charging power. In simple terms, the time rate of the charge depends on the charging level used, and the charging level depends on the voltage handling of the batteries and charger electronics in the car. The U.S.-based SAE International defines Level 1 (household 120V AC) as the slowest, Level 2 (upgraded household 240 VAC) in the middle and Level 3 (supercharging, 480V DC, or higher) as the fastest. Level 3 charge time can be as fast as 30 minutes for an 80% charge, although there have been serious industry competition about whose standard should be widely adopted. Charge time can be calculated using the formula: Charging Time [h] = Battery Capacity [kWh] / Charging Power [kW]
The usable battery capacity of a first-generation electric vehicle, such as the original Nissan Leaf, is about 20 kWh, giving it a range of about 100 mi (160 km). Tesla was the first company to introduce longer-range mass-production electric vehicles, initially releasing their Model S with battery capacities of 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh, with the latter having an estimated range of about 480 km (300 mi). Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a capacity of roughly 3 to 5 kWh, for an electrical range of 20 to 40 kilometers, but the gasoline engine ensures the full range of a conventional vehicle.
For normal charging (up to 7.4 kW), car manufacturers have built a battery charger into the car. A charging cable is used to connect it to the electrical network to supply a 230 volt AC current. For quicker charging (22 kW, even 43 kW and more), manufacturers have chosen two solutions:
Use the vehicle's built-in charger, designed to charge from 3 to 43 kW at 230 V single-phase or 400 V three-phase.
Use an external charger, which converts AC current into DC current and charges the vehicle at 50 kW (e.g. Nissan Leaf) or more (e.g. 120-135 kW Tesla Model S).
Charging stations can be found and will be needed where there is on-street parking, at taxi stands, in parking lots (at places of employment, hotels, airports, shopping centers, convenience shops, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses, etc.), as well as in the workplaces, in driveways and garages at home. Existing filling stations may also incorporate charging stations. As of 2017, charging stations have been criticized for being inaccessible, hard to find, out of order, and slow; thus reducing EV expansion. At the same time, more gas stations add EV charging stations to meet the increasing demand among EV drivers. Worldwide, hotels are adopting a policy of providing their guests with electric car charging.
Consumers and fleets considering plug-in electric vehicles (PEVS)—which include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all-electric vehicles (EVs)—benefit from access to charging stations, also known as EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment). For most drivers, this starts with charging at home or at fleet facilities. Charging stations at workplaces and public destinations may also bolster market acceptance. Community leaders can find out more about getting ready for PEVs from Clean Cities PEV vehicle community readiness projects or through PEV readiness planning. The EVI-Pro Lite tool is also available to estimate the quantity and type of electric vehicle charging infrastructure necessary to support regional adoption of electric vehicles by state or city/urban area.
The Alternative Fueling Station Locator allows users to search for public and private electric vehicle charging stations. Suggest new charging stations for inclusion in the Station Locator using the Submit New Station form.
Charging equipment for plug-in electric vehicles PEVs—which include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all-electric vehicles (EVs)—is classified by the rate at which the batteries are charged. Charging times vary based on how depleted the battery is, how much energy it holds, the type of battery, and the type of charging equipment. The charging time can range from less than 20 minutes to 20 hours or more, depending on these factors. Charging the growing number of PEVs requires a robus network of stations for both consumer and fleets.
For information on currently available EVSE models, see the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s GoElectricDrive website, which includes information on charging networks and service providers. When choosing equipment for a specific application, many factors, such as networking, payment capabilities, and operation and maintenance, should be considered. For additional information on selecting the right charger, see the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) EV Charger Selection Guide.
Tesla Direct-current (DC) fast charging equipment (typically 208/480V AC three-phase input), enables rapid charging along heavy traffic corridors at installed stations. As of 2019, about 15% of charging outlets in the United States were DC fast chargers. There are three types of DC fast charging systems, depending on the type of charge port on the vehicle: SAE Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO, or Tesla.
The CCS (also known as J1772 combo) connector is unique because a driver can use the same charge port when charging with Level 1, 2, or DC fast equipment. The only difference is that the DC fast charge connector has two additional bottom pins. The CCS connector is used by Chevorlet and BMW PEVs, for example
The CHAdeMO connector is the most common of the three connector types and is used by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota PEVs, for example.
Tesla vehicles have a unique charge port and connector that works for all their charging options including their fast charging option, called a supercharger.
J1772 charge port
AC Level 2 equipment (often referred to simply as Level 2) offers charging through 240V (typical in residential applications) or 208V (typical in commercial applications) electrical service. Most homes have 240V service available, and because Level 2 equipment can charge a typical PEV battery overnight, it is commonly installed at PEV owners' homes for home charging. Level 2 equipment is also commonly used for public and workplace charging. This charging option can operate at up to 80 amperes (Amp) and 19.2 kW. However, most residential Level 2 equipment operates at lower power. Many of these units operate at up to 30 Amps, delivering 7.2 kW of power. These units require a dedicated 40-Amp circuit. As of 2019, over 80% of public outlets in the United States were Level 2.
Level 2 charging equipment uses the same J1772 connector and charge port that Level 1 equipment uses. All commercially available PEVs have the ability to charge using Level 1 and Level 2 charging equipment. Although Tesla vehicles do not have a J1772 charge port, Tesla does sell an adapter.
J1772 charge port
Alternating Current (AC) Level 1 equipment (often referred to simply as Level 1) provides charging through a 120 volt (V) AC plug. Most, if not all, PEVs will come with a Level 1 cordset, so no additional charging equipment is required. On one end of the cord is a standard NEMA connector, (for example, a NEMA 5-15, which is a common three-prong household plug) and on the other end is an SAE J1772 standard connector (often referred to simply as J1772, shown in the above image). The J1772 connector plugs in to the car’s J1772 charge port, and the NEMA connector plugs in to a standard NEMA wall outlet.
Level 1 charging is typically used when there is only a 120V outlet available, such as while charging at home, but can easily provide charging for all of a driver's needs. For example, 8 hours of charging at 120V can replenish about 40 miles of electric range for a mid-size PEV. As of 2019, less than 5% of public charging outlets in the United States were Level 1.
Increasing available public and private charging equipment requires infrastructure procurement. Learn about how to successfully plan for, procure, and install charging infrastructure.
Once charging infrastructure has been procured and installed, it must be properly operated and maintained. Learn about charging infrastructure operation and maintenance considerations.
An additional standard (SAE J3068) is under development for higher rates of AC charging using three-phase power, which is common at commercial and industrial locations in the United States. Some components of the standard will be adapted from the European three-phase charging standards and specified for North American AC grid voltages and requirements. In the United States, the common three-phase voltages are typically 208/120 V, 480/277 V. The standard will target power levels between 6kW and 130kW. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office is pursuing research that will bridge the technology gaps associated with implementing an extreme fast charging network in the United States. A 2017 report(PDF) highlights technology gaps at the battery, vehicle, and infrastructure levels.
Inductive charging equipment, which uses an electromagnetic field to transfer electricity to a PEV without a cord, has been introduced commercially for installation as an aftermarket add-on. Most currently available wireless charging stations operate at power levels comparable to Level 2, though this technology is also available at higher power levels for mass transit operations.
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