What your mother never told you about electric vehicle charging stations

When it comes to the confusiong world of electric vehicle charging stations there are a number of things you need to know.  And as is the case with many hight tech items knowing what questions to ask can be the most elusive.

Lets start with one of the first questions that will come up as you look through the available charging stations for your car.  What is Level 2 and do I want or need it?

Level 2 charging stations are the next step up beyond plugging your car in to a standard household electric outlet.

This brings us straight to the crazy wacky world of Voltz, Amps, and Kilowatt hours. Sounds exciting and interesting doesn’t it?  Well, no.  But the good news is that what you need to know when it comes to electricity measurements and electric vehicle charging stations can be picked up fairly to make your decision considering you budget, your vehicle, and the available options. Once you’re up and charging you can happily go on without thinking about it again.

When buying an EV (electric vehicle, of course) charging station you need to know this because each specific vehicle model is most likely not optimally compatible with all of your charging choices.

So let’s just get through this by using a standard pipe and water flow analogy… because it works.

Think of volts as a pump pushing water through a pipe.  Stronger pump, more water pressure.

Amps will be the size of the pipe.  Wider diameter allows the pump to push more water.  A more accurate analogy would be to make the amperage be the amount of water that can flow, but we’ll visualize that as a wider pipe because it will allow more flow.

Kilowatt hours equates to how much water you are able to use or store so we’ll put it in buckets and save as it comes out of the pipe.

Some charging stations can handle a lot of pressure in a large pipe while others might be able to handle a lot of pressure but only through a smaller pipe.  This is important because (a) it will effect how fast your EV can charge and (b) your EV might not be compatible with all of the available choices.  If your electronic vehicle is rated to take 15 amps (flow.. or in electricity terms “current”) and 3.5kwh while your charging station can put out 40 amps and 7kwh it has more capacity than you need and depending on it’s electronics, it may even damage your ev’s internal charging system.

On the other hand, if your vehicle can take the higher amount but the charging station only puts out the lower amount it will take longer to charge than is necessary.  Which may be perfectly ok with some vehicle owners who might only use their EV for one trip to work and back each day or who might be generating their own electricity and want to have specific lower pull on their system.  To those people paying more for a higher capacity charging station would be a waste of funds.

Here are the things you will need to consider and then balance out what you want:

1) Does my vehicle have any limitations for power supply specifications?

2) Do I want a fast charge?

3) Do I have an existing appropriate power outlet near the location of my charging station?

4) Do I have a specific budget?

5) What are the reliable options?

 

Let’s take a side step here and look at #3.  A Level 2 charging station that can typically charge your vehicle faster need a 240 voltz outlet (some may consider a 230 volt station an level 2) which requires special wiring and, if the device is not going to be directly wired, a special socket like what you would typically find a clothes dryer using.  It is very common to not have one of these, in which case you would need to hire an electrician to put one in.  Some electricians may charge over $1,000 but you can except to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars.  Make some calls.  Most electricians should be pretty familiar with this scenario.

Ok, back to your EV.  Lets look at a close to real world scenario.  You have an EV with a capacity of 20 kWh.  This means it can store 20 kilowatt hours of electricity.  Not 20 hours of driving, but a measurement that says if I need to use 1,000 watts in an hour I can have power for 20 hours.  Your car uses considerable more than that but in terms of distance it would probably be around 100 miles.  If your charging station can put out 7 kWh it would take roughly 3 hours to charge your vehicle from 0 to capacity.

Another consideration is whether or not your EV Charging Station will be positioned outside.  Water can definitely effect your electronic vehicle charging station. In order to have the charging station outside it needs to be enclosed in a “Nema” rated case of 3, 3S, 3X, 3R, 4, or 4X.  Some higher Nema ratings may apply but will not typically be found in charging stations.  Nema is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and defines standards for various electronic devices.  An external charging station would also need to be hard wired rather than plugged in.

So now you have ammunition to make a decision.  The next step is to find a reliable charging station that fits your budget and needs.  One of the best ways to do this is to read reviews from a site such as Amazon where real world users give their opinions and experiences.  Click here to see our selections and read  some reviews.

We are currently compiling reviews and will be adding a rating listing to this article soon.

 

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