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Before buying electric vehicle charging stations, know this
Different charging station standards mean you need to be smart about the station you buyMaybe you want to put a charging station by
your business for customers to use. Perhaps you have a business plan to install a number of charging stations along a popular
motorway. Or you might want to install neighborhood or city charging stations.
The first thing you must know is that not all DC (direct current) fast charging stations will charge all electric car models. A Nissan Leaf
generally needs a different type of charging station than a Chevy Volt. The main point of confusion is that there are two DC fast
charging station standards currently competing for the market: Combo and CHAdeMO. In addition to Combo and CHAdeMO DC fast
charging stations, AC charging stations can provide a slower charge to a greater number of vehicle models.
Here’s a visual of several multi-standard charging stations. It illustrates which charging station standard is most likely to match which
brand of car.
company’s own DC fast chargers.
This battle of standards is particularly important for charging station buyers. Without proper planning, different charging station standards
could cost you big money.
AC charging stations
Most home charging stations are AC (alternating current) stations since home electricity outlets provide an alternating current. There are
two types of AC charging station.
The first type, called Level 1, basically means charging the car from an ordinary household outlet. Using a standard home AC electrical
outlet, you can charge most electric vehicles. However, this is also the slowest way to charge a car. Charging a Nissan Leaf straight from
an electrical outlet in the United States could take as long as 22 hours.
The second type, Level 2 AC chargers, speed up charging considerably. A level 2 AC “semi fast” 20 kW charger can charge a vehicle in
several hours. This type of charging station is one of the most common public charging stations. It’s suitable for commercial fleets, urban
areas and as an alternative to DC fast charging at service stations. The benefit of a 20 kW AC charger is that most commercial and urban
areas would not need to make big changes to their power infrastructure, which is sometimes impossible in historic, protected areas.
SAE Combo DC fast charging stations
For most commercial EV charging station buyers, the confusion about which stations to buy begins when you look at DC fast charging
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the organization that sets the standard for aerospace and automotive industry technology,
settled on the SAE Combo as an EV charging station standard. The Combo is the charging standard most used by European and North
American auto makers. Combo describes a type of DC fast charging station that can give a car an 80% charge in just 15-30 minutes.
However, for a long time the default DC fast charging station in the United States was CHAdeMO, not Combo. Whether this will change
over time is still uncertain. The first Combo fast charging station has just been installed in San Diego at the Fashion Valley Mall.
CHAdeMO DC fast charging stations
CHAdeMO, on the other hand, is the standard most used by Asian car manufacturers. Like the Combo, the CHAdeMO DC fast charger
can charge a car battery about 80% in just 15-30 minutes.
At this time, the main advantage to buying a CHAdeMO charging station is that there are far more cars on the road that are compatible
with CHAdeMO than with Combo. However, with Combo adopted as the standard in North America and Europe it’s far from certain which
standard will ultimately be most widely used.
Fortunately, charging stations are now entering the market that bring together these different standards all in one charging station.
Multi-standard chargers can come with Combo, CHAdeMO and AC charging types, or a combination of two of the three.
A nation-wide infrastructure of 200 of these multi-standard EV charging stations, spaced 50 kilometers apart, is now under construction in
the Netherlands, following another nation-wide DC fast charging station roll-out recently completed in Estonia.
Copyright 2008 ITC Engineering Solutions Inc. All rights reserved