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Electric vehicles

How to Choose an Electric Vehicle Charger

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Publication date: 22/04/24

With the advancement of technology and the growing concern for sustainability, electric cars are becoming an increasingly popular option among consumers. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 2019 to 2022, the sale of battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in Europe increased by 356%.

However, one of the key issues that arises when purchasing an electric vehicle is ensuring an efficient and convenient way to charge it. In this context, the choice of the appropriate electric car charger plays a crucial role in optimizing the user experience, whether for personal use at home or in public locations and service stations.

When considering the purchase of an electric charger, a series of considerations arise to ensure the right choice. From power and compatibility to additional features and safety certifications.

In this text, we will explore the main points to consider when selecting an electric car charger, providing valuable insights and useful guidance to help you make an informed and satisfactory decision. By understanding the different types of chargers, available sockets, usage scenarios, and more, you will be ready to embark on the journey towards the world of electric mobility with confidence and safety.

Types of Chargers

When looking for an electric car charger, you will find a wide variety of options on the market, each with its own characteristics in terms of size, features, and power. The charger's power is a fundamental factor that directly influences the vehicle's charging speed. Below, we present the types of chargers classified according to their power.

Slow Chargers

These chargers have a power of up to 3.7 kW (230V / 16A) and take more than 8 hours to fully charge an electric car battery, ideal for overnight charging. They are often found in places where vehicles can be parked for long periods, such as residences or workplaces.

The most common chargers in this power range are the portable ones, as they do not require installation and can be directly plugged into the socket via the Schuko connector. Some models offer electric current control for charging and allow scheduling the start of charging.

Normal Chargers

With a power that can reach up to 22 kW (400V / 32A), these chargers offer a faster alternative to recharge electric vehicles compared to lower power models. This capacity allows completing the charging of an electric car in a significantly shorter period - between 6 and 2 hours depending on the power -, making them ideal for users who need faster recharging during the day.

Found in various locations, including residences, commercial parking lots, and other public charging points, these chargers are a popular choice for those seeking convenience and efficiency in their daily electric charging.

The most common normal chargers are the wallboxes, and they can be found in versions with or without communication protocol (OCPP) capable of connecting to remote management and monitoring services. In addition to wallboxes, it is also possible to find portable chargers with this power.

Fast Chargers

Fast chargers are designed to offer quick and efficient charging, ideal for drivers who need to charge their vehicles quickly on trips or emergency situations. With powers of up to 100 kW, these chargers can even have more than one socket for charging and are commonly found at service stations, charging hubs, and some commercial locations.

These devices provide power in direct current (DC), unlike the previous chargers that provide alternating current (AC). Therefore, they are often called DC Fast Charge. With fast chargers, a charge of up to 80% of the battery takes less than 1 hour.

However, due to their ability to provide a large amount of energy in a short period of time, fast chargers tend to be more expensive and require a more robust electrical infrastructure to operate efficiently.

Ultra-Fast Chargers

Ultra-fast chargers are an even more efficient option for charging electric vehicles. With powers exceeding 100 kW, these chargers can complete a recharge in less than 30 minutes, making them extremely fast.

Furthermore, some of these chargers feature more than one socket, which increases convenience for users. They are located in strategic public places, such as service stations and even within cities. This provides quick and easy access to charging, whether on long trips or in everyday city life.

Like fast chargers, ultra-fast chargers operate at high speed until the vehicle's battery reaches 80% of its capacity. After this point, the power is reduced as a safety measure to preserve the integrity of the battery. This is why many of these chargers also offer an alternating current connector of 22 kW, ideal for completing the charge.

It is recommended that, upon reaching 80% charge, the driver frees up the fast or ultra-fast charger for another user and connects their vehicle to a standard charging connector. This way, it is possible to charge the battery up to 100% safely and efficiently.

It is important to note that, like fast chargers, ultra-fast chargers tend to be more expensive and require a more robust electrical infrastructure to handle the large amount of energy they transfer.

Socket Compatibility

Modern electric cars come equipped with two sockets for charging. One is intended for slow and normal charging, using alternating current, while the other is reserved for fast or ultra-fast charging, which requires direct current. When choosing a charger for an electric car, it is essential to ensure compatibility with the types of sockets used by the vehicle.

In slow and normal chargers, the most common sockets are Type 1 and Type 2. In fast and ultra-fast chargers, the common options are CHAdeMO and CCS2. Some of these fast and ultra-fast chargers may also offer the option of charging in alternating current. Generally, the socket available for this type of charging is Type 2.

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Applications and Specific Uses of the Charger

A crucial point when considering the purchase of an electric car charger is to understand the type of use or application it will have. Although all are intended for charging electric vehicles, understanding their specific needs allows determining which one to buy and where it can be installed, the available resources and functionalities, and whether it will be necessary to implement management and access control.

Here are the uses of chargers for different scenarios:

Mobility and Travel

For frequent travellers looking for independence regarding the availability of chargers, choosing a portable charger offers several advantages. Compact and accompanied by a storage bag, it can be easily transported alongside the vehicle, ensuring the convenience of charging the car at any time and place with access to a domestic or industrial socket.

Residences

Chargers for residential use, such as portable chargers and wallboxes, are perfect for recharging vehicles overnight or when not in use. These are very convenient, ensuring that your electric vehicle is always ready to be used. As they are intended for personal use, they do not require very advanced features. Additionally, when installed in garages, they do not need to be as robust to withstand adverse weather conditions.

Electric Fleets

Companies that own fleets of electric vehicles can install chargers at their facilities to keep their vehicles charged and ready for use throughout the day. In these cases, it is crucial to consider the number of vehicles to be charged to estimate the quantity and power of the chargers needed. Additionally, it is essential for the equipment to have the OCPP communication protocol to connect to a complete charging management system, allowing remote monitoring, access control, alarm system, and data analysis.

Shopping and Business Centres

For shopping and business centres, it is crucial to choose chargers that can handle multiple vehicles at the same time, especially during peak times. It is also important to opt for chargers that support different types of connectors, ensuring that all types of electric vehicles can be charged. Integration with payment and charging management systems facilitates the use of chargers and ensures efficient access control. Finally, choosing chargers with remote monitoring and proactive maintenance features helps ensure that the equipment is always available and functioning correctly, providing a reliable charging experience to users.

Public Places and Highway Services

When choosing electric car chargers for these locations, it is essential to consider the robustness and reliability of the equipment, as they will be subject to high intensity of use and varying weather conditions. It is important to select high-power chargers to ensure fast charging times and reduce waiting time for users. Additionally, compatibility with different types of connectors is also essential to accommodate a wide variety of electric vehicles, and the presence of integrated payment systems and intuitive user interfaces is also important to make the charging process easy and convenient for users.

Where Will the Charger be Installed?

When choosing an electric car charger, one of the key questions is: where will the vehicle be charged? In a garage or outdoors? This is crucial because not all chargers are sufficiently robust to withstand weather variations. Additionally, safety is a significant concern. When installing an outdoor charger, it needs to be able to withstand weather conditions and possible vandalism or theft attempts.

For indoor installations, it is essential to choose a location close to the vehicle, as residential chargers typically have shorter cables. Outdoors, in addition to proximity to the parking space, it is important to decide whether each space will have its own charger or whether they will be shared. In the latter case, a charger with multiple outputs may be the best option.

Regardless of the installation location, it is essential to consider the distance between the power point and the charger. Generally, the installation cost increases as this distance increases. Therefore, when planning the installation, consider this distance to avoid unnecessary additional costs.

Features and Functionalities

Electric car chargers vary in their features, from simple models dedicated only to charging to more advanced options equipped with LCD screens and remote monitoring and data analysis features. The choice between a device with more or fewer features will depend on the individual needs of the user.

Some of the common features include:

  • LCD Display: Displays real-time charging information,
  • Charging Current Adjustment: Allows configuring the vehicle's charging power,
  • Connectivity: Offers the possibility to track and monitor charging status remotely, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or 4G, often through apps that facilitate charger control and management,
  • Access Control: Restricts charger usage only to authorized users, ensuring security and preventing misuse,
  • Charging Schedule: Allows the driver to schedule the duration or a specific time to start and finish vehicle charging.

It is important to note that the availability of some features may depend on whether the charger includes the OCPP communication protocol.

Warranty and Safety Certifications

The warranty and safety certifications are crucial points when choosing a charger for electric vehicles. It is always recommended to opt for models that have been tested and certified by respected national and international bodies, such as CE, UL, or TÜV. Additionally, it is essential to check the warranty period offered by the manufacturer, as well as the availability and type of technical support for the chosen charger.

The reputation of the company offering the product is another factor to consider. Choosing known distributors and brands ensures the reliability and quality of the investment made. These measures provide security and peace of mind to the user, ensuring efficient and safe charging for the electric vehicle.

Conclusion

The process of choosing an electric car charger involves a careful analysis of various aspects. From considering the different types of chargers and their compatibility with the vehicle to evaluating the required features and functionalities to meet the individual needs of each user.

It is also essential to consider the specific usage context, ensuring that the selected charger is appropriate for the environment in which it will be installed.

In summary, by understanding the different types of chargers available, their characteristics, and the specific usage requirements, consumers can make informed choices and ensure an effective and safe charging experience for their electric vehicles.

If you are interested in purchasing an electric car charger, charging cables, or charger accessories, check out our catalogue at the miio Store.