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Do you already own an electric car, or are perhaps considering buying one? Remember to also think about charging the car. Many people assume you can charge a car just by plugging a cable into a simple power socket. While they are correct, this method has serious disadvantages, including the time it will take to fully charge the car’s battery.
Electric vehicle sales are on the rise. (Courtesy of Smart)
With the pilot phase and market introduction more or less complete, 2016 will take us into Phase 3 of establishing a new product, i.e. the volume market. More and more people will be driving on electricity. Hence, the importance of taking the appropriate measures inside your home in order to optimise the charging of your car.
Types of Electric Cars
There are currently several different kinds of electric vehicles. They range from micro, mild and full hybrids to plug-in hybrids with a range extender and a fully electric car. It is the latter two types that consume the greatest amount of electricity. The plug-in hybrid with the range extender has a small fossil fuel engine which serves as a generator, providing a supplementary battery charge. This increases the practical range of the vehicle. Full electric vehicles no longer have a fossil fuel engine.
Charging at Home
In most cases, electric cars are charged where they’re parked: in the street, the parking garage, the shopping centre, at work or at home. This is a major difference to cars running on fossil fuels that must be filled up at gas stations on the road.
The charging rate and time depend on various factors. The charge still remaining in the battery plays its part, but also the type of connection to the charging point. A mono-phased connection to a standard 16A/230V power socket (3.7kW) will require many hours (sometimes up to 11 hours) to fully charge an electric car’s battery. Using a multi-phased 32A/400V connection reduces the charging time dramatically. It is wise to adjust the capacity of your home charging station to that of your vehicle. A home charging station with a large charging capacity of, for instance, 22 kW offers the greatest flexibility. You can use it to charge all types of electric cars, regardless of whether they have a 3.7, 7.4, 11 or 22 kW charger on board.
Your Home Connection
In most cases, a home connection has a limited maximum capacity, which is often too small to charge a car within a very short timeframe. In that event, you can choose to have a larger maximum capacity installed, preferably with a multi-phased connection.
Types of Plugs
There are Type 1 and Type 2 charging plugs. As of 2011, the worldwide standard is the Type 2 plug, which can be used for mono- and multi-phased connections and currents of 13 to 63A. In addition, the Type 2 plug enables you to transfer energy from the public power grid to the vehicle, as well as the other way round. The latter can be interesting if you also have solar panels at your home. However, when there is no or little sunshine, the stored energy can be used for other energy consumers in and around the home. Beginning in 2017, all electric vehicles will be equipped with a Type 2 connection cable.
A Charging Station at Home
Certain manufacturers offer a charging station that you can use at home. This device is installed in the garage and fed the required voltage. Some models also have a wireless connection to the internet (WiFi), enabling you to start, stop or pause the charging process via an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Furthermore, such a charging station has multiple charging methods in order to reduce the cost of energy or maximise the use of self-generated solar power. In this way, you use electricity to fill up your car’s battery at the cheapest rate. You can track and monitor your electricity consumption both via your charging station and your app.