EV Charging 101

Posted: August 09, 2017
Tagged As: Asset Management, Electric Vehicles, Electricity, Energy, Energy Bills, Fleet Management, GHG Emissions

Okay, you’ve signed the papers for that shiny new electric vehicle. How are you supposed to keep it charged and ready to hit the road?

Charging Levels

Electric vehicles use a standardized set of devices to keep their batteries topped up. They break down into three ‘levels’:

Level 1: 110 volt, 8-16 amp. A normal household plug. Adds ~6km range per hour. Can work well for many PHEVs or BEVs with smaller batteries. Included with most electric vehicles.

Level 2: 220 volt, 20-100 amp. The most common charger level, allows relatively quick charging (2-6 hours). Adds between 20-80km range per hour. Most run in the 30-40 amp range, which is about the same as an electric dryer or oven.

Level 3: Three-Phase 480v DC, 32-260 amp. Fast charging, allows 200-450km range to be added per hour. Big power, big install costs. Future proof chargers are being installed that will allow for even higher rates than cars currently on the road can handle, allowing for full charges in just a few minutes. 

The plug system is also standardized, but there are a few out there to keep track of.
J1772 Electric Vehicle Charge Port

CHAdeMO Electric Vehicle Charge Port

SAE Combo
SAE Combo / J1772 Combo EV Electric Charge Port

Tesla EV Charge Port

The most common, present on most electric vehicles or at least usable with an (usually included) adapter. Likely the one you’ll be using most of the time. Many EVs, in particular PHEVs, only have a J1772. This plug is only used for Level 1 and 2 charging.

Two competing standards for Level 3 charging are CHAdeMO and SAE Combo. Many Level 3 stations include both connectors. These connectors are large, with thick cables allowing for very high levels of power transfer.

SAE is preferred by General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, and Volkswagen; CHAdeMO is supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. CHAdeMO can be used by Tesla vehicles with an adapter.

Tesla cars use their own plug, which allows for all three levels of charging. Any Tesla branded chargers (ie: Superchargers) only use the Tesla plug, and therefore allow only Tesla vehicles to charge. All Tesla vehicles include a J1772 adapter, and a CHAdeMO adapter is available for purchase.

Smart Charging

Smartchargers allow for greater control of charging, and provide useful information on the energy being consumed. One of the key components of smart chargers allows you to control the timing of your charge. If your vehicle returns to the garage at 4:30pm every day and charges for two hours, you’ll end up paying peak electricity rates. By allowing that charger to delay the charge time by a few hours, the electrons you consume will be the cheap non-peak variety. This is also important to help the electricity system handle an influx of EVs – the grid can handle electric vehicles, but not if all of them start charging at the same time.

Another key benefit of smart chargers is to allow ‘load sharing’ among chargers. Many municipal buildings were not constructed with EVs in mind, meaning their electrical systems may not be able to handle a large increase in demand. Smart chargers allow multiple vehicles to be charged overnight without exceeding a certain specified electricity draw. This also allows for lower installation costs – rather than running six 30-amp wires for six separate chargers for six vehicles, you may only need to run 2-3. The chargers will fire up sequentially or charge at lower levels throughout the night to make sure all vehicles are ready to go in the morning. 

The data available from smart chargers can be extremely helpful to fleet managers. Using RFID tags, data can be collected about the energy use of each vehicle. If part of a larger network, this can include chargers at different locations, even ones at the employee’s home. It lets you know when, where, and how much charging each station is doing.

Smart chargers can also allow for mixed use of chargers. Do you have one at your City Hall that’s used at night by fleet vehicles but not during the day? Open it to public use, maybe even with an option for payment. If the charger is in an open location but reserved for municipal vehicles, use the RFID to restrict use to only authorized vehicles. The chargers can be customized to meet whatever your needs are at that exact moment.  If your charger has a wider network, the RFID chip can be used to access their public chargers in other locations, without the driver needing to worry about billing.

What does this all mean for everyday use? For the vast majority of charging, a J1772 charger is what you’ll need. For a Battery Electric Vehicle, a Level 2 charger is preferable, whereas for a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, a Level 1 may do the trick.  Smart charging can provide huge benefits in terms of energy management and data collection.

The LAS Fleet Management Service includes customized charging recommendations to let you know what you’ll need to keep your newly electrified fleet charged up and ready to go. For additional information please contact Tanner Watt at 647-456-5516.

Lamya Baraam
Like to have more info and update news
8/16/2017 9:39:32 AM