The EV charger is an indispensable part of your electric vehicle. You need to keep the battery juiced up and able to power your EV. As such, you want to understand what it is and how it works. And if planning to buy one, its cost estimate. This EV charger guide has all that’s needed to understand the device in detail.
What is an EV Charger?
The EV charger is commonly used to mean the device that, when charging an EV, connects to a power source on one end and the EV’s charging port on the other. It serves as the link between the power supply and onboard charger, thus helping to deliver electricity to the EV battery.
That said, it’s good to note that the actual charger is on the EV itself, and what’s usually referred to as the charger is more correctly an EVSE, or EV supply equipment. Nevertheless, both manufacturers and users call these chargers, and this has been widely acceptable.
EV chargers are made in many different sizes and other features. The smallest EV charger, for instance, is a portable unit that you plug into a normal household outlet, while bigger chargers are more powerful charging stations such as DC fast EV chargers.
EV Charger Parts
What is inside an EV charger? Your EV charger is composed of several different parts. While each part has a role in the working of the device, there are those that can be said to be the most important. These are: the charging connector, charging cable, and plug.
EV Charger Connector
The EV charger connector here means the part that you insert into the charging port or receptacle. It contains pins that carry power, and those that pass signals to communicate with the charging module. For any charger to work, this part must be compatible with the charging inlet.
EV charging connectors come in different designs. If using a level 1 or level 2 EV chargers, the connector will always be what’s called a J-1772 plug, and compatible with all electric vehicles.
However, if using a DC EV charger, the connector can be any of these types: CCS, CHAdeMO, or a propriety design such as Tesla or Chinese GB/T standard. The CCS connector combines a level 2 and 3, plug, while a CHAdeMO connector is only usable on Japanese cars.
EV Charger Plug
This is the part that you insert into the power source. The source can be an outlet in your home or the socket of a public charging station. It consists of pins to draw power form the source, via the cable, and to your EV battery through the onboard charging module or battery management system.
An EV charger plug can be a type 1 or type 2. Type 1 plugs are usable with standard single—phase outlets, while a type 2 plug is designed for three-phase systems. For DC charging, the plug can be a CCS type or CHAdeMO.
EV Charger Cable
The cable connects the above EV charger parts, together. It provides the length required to conveniently link your car with the supply, and can be tethered or detachable. Lengths vary across different charger brands and models bit can be up to 25 feet or longer.
A detachable EV charger cable allows for greater versatility, as you can use it with different types of plugs; you only need an adapter. An EV charger adapter is the part that you attach to make the device usable with an otherwise incompatible plug.
How do EV Chargers Work?
Although a little more sophisticated in design, the EV charger working principle is no different from that of other charging devices, which is to act as the link between the power source and the device being charged. In this case, the device being charged is the battery. This is how EV chargers work:
- As soon as you connect the charger to a power source, the EV’s onboard computer will interrogate it before charging can take place.
- During this communication, the charger and charging module will exchange crucial information, such as the maximum amount of power that the charger can supply. This is usually measured in kilowatts.
- Most importantly, the communication usually helps determine if a secure connection has been made between the EV charger cable and the charging inlet. If not, electricity will not flow.
- Depending on the speed of your EV charger or EV charging station, the battery may attain capacity in as little as only a few minutes, or for as long as 24 hours. The battery then supplies power to make your car move, until it’s time to plug it to an outlet or charging station.
AC and DC EV Charger
Your EV charger can be a device that supplies power in the form of AC current, or a DC charger that delivers the current already converted. Each device has its own design features. Most importantly, AC and DC EV chargers differ in terms of speed and price.
AC EV Charger
An AC EV charger, as its name implies, is the type of charger that’s designed to deliver an AC type of charging current. That being said, your EV battery can only be changed using DC current. So this charger usually connects to what’s called an OBCM, or onboard charging module. The module is basically a rectifier that changes the AC current to DC current.
AC EV chargers are available as level 1 and level 2 types. A level 1 charger is used with a standard 120-volt outlet, while a level 2 type requires a dedicated 240-volt circuit. An AC level 2 EV charger is also a faster device that will charge your car in 3 to 5 hours, compared to a level 1 charger that takes 12-24 hours average.
DC EV Charger
A DC EV charger delivers the charging current already rectified. As such, it doesn’t need the onboard rectifier and instead bypasses it. This has several benefits. First, it means no power is being wasted by the inverting or rectifying unit, which makes charging a more efficient process.
Secondly, a DC EV charger can deliver more power to the battery, up to 350kW or more, which is way higher than what most AC chargers can achieve. Among other things, it means ability to charge an electrically powered car in as low as 20-30 minutes or less.
EV Charger Cost
So, how much does an EV charger cost? You’re likely to spend from $200 to $1000 for a charging new unit. However, the actual EV charger cost will usually vary based on several factors: brand, power output, convenience features, and more. With that said, here is a breakdown of the costs.
- First we must point out that, with the free market, the prices of one EV charger manufacturer will always be different from that of another manufacturer.
- The EV charger price also depends on its type. A level 1 charger is the least expensive, plus you do not need to modify any existing wiring to use it. This type of charger can cost you as low as $200 to buy.
- The level EV 2 charger cost is significantly higher, with prices going to as high as $1000 or more. These may also cost you to install, seeing that you need a 240-volt line or outlet.
- A level 3 EV charger is the most expensive to buy or install, costing between $10 000 to $50 000. These are not usable in homes, though, as they need an expensive infrastructure to install, including a 480-volt service line or higher.
Other factors that influence the price of EV chargers, as earlier mentioned, include the specific amperage or power output and amount of features. That’s why the cost of commercial EV chargers will always be much higher than the cost of home EV chargers.
An EV charger allows you to draw power from a charging station (or outlet) to replenish your EV battery. Depending on your driving needs, this may be a portable or hardwired device to use in your home. The EV charger can also be a commercial type that EV owners normally use when on the move: the options are widely varied.