Charging station

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Tesla Roadster being charged, Iwata city, Japan Electric motorcycle at an AeroVironment station
Nissan Leaf recharging in Houston, Texas Toyota Priuses at public station, San Francisco
Charging stations for electric vehicles:

An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point, charge point, electronic charging station (ECS), and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), is a machine that supplies electric energy for the recharging of plug-in electric vehicles—including electric cars, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Some electric vehicles have converters on board that plug into a standard electrical outlet or a high-capacity appliance outlet. Others use a charging station that provides electrical conversion, monitoring, or safety functionality. These stations can support faster charging at higher voltages and currents than residential EVSEs.

Charging stations provide a range of heavy duty or special connectors that conform to the variety of standards. For common DC rapid charging, multi-standard chargers equipped with two or three of the Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO, and AC fast charging has become the de facto market standard in many regions.

Public charging stations are typically on-street facilities provided by electric utility companies or located at retail shopping centers, restaurants and parking places. They can be operated by various private companies.

Charging station types[edit]

Charging station with NEMA connector for electric AMC Gremlin used by Seattle City Light in 1973 [1]
Charging connectors: IEC Type 4/​CHAdeMO (left); CCS Combo 2 (centre); IEC Type 2 outlet (right)

Charging stations fall into four basic categories:

  1. Residential charging stations: An EV owner plugs into a standard receptacle (such as NEMA connector in the US), recharging the vehicle overnight.[2] A home charging station usually has no user authentication, no separate metering, but may require wiring a dedicated circuit to have faster charging.[3] Some portable chargers can also be wall mounted as charging stations.
  2. Charging while parked (including public charging stations) – a private or commercial venture for a fee or free, sometimes offered in partnership with the owners of the parking lot. This charging may be slow or high speed and often encourages EV owners to recharge their cars while they take advantage of nearby facilities.[4] It can include parking for an organization's own employees, parking at shopping malls, small centers, and public transit stations.[5][6] Typically, AC Type1 / Type2 plugs are used.
  3. Fast charging at public charging stations >40 kW, capable of delivering over 60-mile (100 km) of range in 10–30 minutes. These chargers may be at rest stops to allow for longer distance trips. They may also be used regularly by commuters in metropolitan areas, and for charging while parked for shorter or longer periods. Common examples are J1772, Type 2 connector Type 3 connector, Combined charging system, CHAdeMO, and Tesla Superchargers.[7]
  4. The battery can charge in under 15 minutes. A specified target for CARB credits for a zero-emission vehicle is adding 200-mile (300 km) to its range in under 15 minutes. In 2014, this was not possible for charging electric vehicles, but it is achievable with EV battery swaps. It intends to match the refueling expectations of regular drivers and give crane mobile support for discharged vehicles where there is no charging station.

Methods of charging have changed and improved over time. New options have also been introduced on a small scale, including mobile charging stations and charging via inductive charging mats. Differing needs and solutions of various manufacturers delayed the emergence of standard charging methods, which is still an issue in 2015.

Charging time[edit]

BYD e6. Recharging in 15 Minutes to 80 Percent
Solaris Urbino 12 electric, battery electric bus, inductive charging station

The charging time depends on the battery capacity and the charging power. In simple terms, the time rate of charge depends on the charging level used, and the charging level depends on the voltage handling of the batteries and charger electronics in the car. The U.S.-based SAE International defines Level 1 (household 120 V AC) as the slowest, Level 2 (upgraded household 240 V AC) in the middle and Level 3 (super charging, 480 V DC or higher) as the fastest. Level 3 charge time can be as fast as 30 minutes for an 80% charge, although there has been serious industry competition about whose standard should be widely adopted. Charge time can be calculated using the formula: Charging Time [h] = Battery Capacity [kWh] / Effective Charging Power [kW].[8] The effective charging power can be lower than the maximum charging power of the socket or charging station due to limitations of the vehicle, charging losses (which can be as high as 25%[9]), and also vary over time due to charging limits applied by a battery management system or a charge controller.

The usable battery capacity of a first-generation electric vehicle, such as the original Nissan Leaf, is about 20 kWh, giving it a range of about 100 mi (160 km). Tesla was the first company to introduce longer range mass production electric vehicles, initially releasing their Model S with battery capacities of 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh, with the latter having an estimated range of about 480 km (300 mi). Plug-in hybrid vehicles have capacity of roughly 3 to 20 kWh, for an electrical range of 20 to 80 kilometers (15 to 50 miles), but the gasoline engine ensures the full range of a conventional vehicle.

For standard charging (up to 7.4 kW), some vehicles have in-built chargers, and can connected to the grid. For quicker charging (22 kW, even 43 kW and more), manufacturers have chosen two solutions:

  • Use the vehicle's built-in charger, designed to charge from 3 to 43 kW at 230 V single-phase or 400 V three-phase.
  • Use an external charger, which converts AC current into DC current and charges the vehicle at 50 kW (e.g. Nissan Leaf) or more (e.g. 120-135 kW Tesla Model S).
Charging time for 100 km of BEV range[citation needed]
Power supply Power Voltage Max. current Charging time
Single phase 3.3 kW 230 V AC 16 A 5–6 hours
Single phase 7.4 kW 230 V AC 32 A 2-2½ hours
Three phase 11 kW 400 V AC 16 A 1½-2 hours
Three phase 22 kW 400 V AC 32 A 44–55 minutes
Three phase 43 kW 400 V AC 63 A 22–28 minutes
Direct current (DCFC) 50 kW 400–500 V DC 100–125 A 19–24 minutes
Direct current (DCFC) 120 kW 300–500 V DC 300–350 A 8–10 minutes

The user finds charging an electric vehicle as simple as connecting a normal electrical appliance; however to ensure that this operation takes place in complete safety, the charging system must perform several safety functions and dialogue with the vehicle during connection and charging.


Costs vary greatly by country and the available power suppliers.

United States[edit]

In 2017, Tesla gave the owners of its Model S and Model X cars 400 kWh of Supercharger credit.[10] Afterwards, drivers using Tesla Superchargers have to pay per kWh. The price ranges from $0.06 to $0.26 per kWh in the United States.[11] Tesla superchargers are only usable by Tesla vehicles.

Other charging networks are available for non-Tesla vehicles. The Blink network of chargers has both Level 2 and DC Fast Chargers and charges separate rates for members and non members. Their prices range from $0.39 to $0.69 per kWh for members and $0.49 to $0.79 per kWh for non-members, depending on location.[12] The ChargePoint network has free chargers and paid chargers that drivers activate with a free membership card.[13] The paid charging stations' prices are based on local rates (similarly to Blink). Other networks use similar payment methods as typical gas stations, in which one pays with cash or a credit card per kWh of electricity.


A Sunwin electric bus in Shanghai at a charging station
A battery electric bus charging station in Geneva, Switzerland

Although the rechargeable electric vehicles and equipment can be recharged from a domestic wall socket, a charging station is usually accessible to multiple electric vehicles and has additional current or connection sensing mechanisms to disconnect the power when the EV is not charging.

There are two main types of safety sensor:

  • Current sensors which monitor the power consumed, and maintain the connection only if the demand is within a predetermined range. Sensor wires react more quickly, have fewer parts to fail and are possibly less expensive to design and implement.[citation needed] Current sensors however can use standard connectors and can readily provide an option for suppliers to monitor or charge for the electricity actually consumed.[citation needed]
  • Additional physical "sensor wires" which provide a feedback signal such as specified by the undermentioned SAE J1772 and IEC 62196 schemes that require special (multi-pin) power plug fittings.

Until 2013, there was an issue where Blink chargers were overheating and causing damage to both charger and car.[14][15] The solution employed by the company was to reduce the maximum current.[16]

IEC-61851-1 Charging Modes[edit]

IEC 61851-1 - the International standard for electric vehicle conductive charging system has defined 4 Modes of EV charging.

Mode 1: Domestic socket and extension cord[edit]

Mode 1 : Fixed, non-dedicated socket
Mode 2 : Non-dedicated socket with cable-incorporated protection device
Mode 3 : Fixed, dedicated circuit-socket
Mode 4 : DC Connection

The vehicle is connected to the power grid through standard socket-outlets present in residences, which depending on the country are usually rated at around 10 A. To use mode 1, the electrical installation must comply with the safety regulations and must have an earthing system, a circuit breaker to protect against overload and an earth leakage protection. The sockets have blanking devices to prevent accidental contacts.

The first limitation is the available power, to avoid risks of:

  • Heating of the socket and cables following intensive use for several hours at or near the maximum power (which varies from 8 to 20 A depending on the country).
  • Fire or electric injury risks if the electrical installation is obsolete or if certain protective devices are absent.

The second limitation is related to the installation's power management.

  • As the charging socket shares a feeder from the switchboard with other sockets (no dedicated circuit) if the sum of consumption exceeds the protection limit (in general 16 A), the circuit-breaker will trip, stopping the charging.

Mode 2: Domestic socket and cable with a protection device[edit]

The vehicle is connected to the main power grid via household socket-outlets. Charging is done via a single-phase or three-phase network and installation of an earthing cable. A protection device is built into the cable. This solution is more expensive than Mode 1 due to the specificity of the cable.

Mode 3: Specific socket on a dedicated circuit[edit]

The vehicle is connected directly to the electrical network via specific socket and plug and a dedicated circuit. A control and protection function is also installed permanently in the installation. This is the only charging mode that meets the applicable standards regulating electrical installations (IEC 61851). It also allows load shedding so that electrical household appliances can be operated during vehicle charging or on the contrary optimize the electric vehicle charging time.

Mode 4: Direct current (DC) connection for fast recharging[edit]

The electric vehicle is connected to the main power grid through an external charger. Control and protection functions and the vehicle charging cable are installed permanently in the installation.

SAE Charging Levels (North America)[edit]

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) defines the general physical, electrical, communication and performance requirements for the EV charging systems used in North America, as part of the standard SAE J1772.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has adopted a majority of the SAE J1772 standard under IEC 62196-1 for international implementation.

Charging "Levels" are based upon the power distribution type, standards and maximum power.

Alternating Current (AC) Supply[edit]

AC charging is the most commonly available charging infrastructure both publicly and privately, as it is able to connect directly to the existing power infrastructure of a home or business. AC charging stations connect the vehicle's onboard charging circuitry directly to the AC Supply.

  • AC Level 1: Connects directly to a standard 120 V North American residential outlet; capable of supplying 12-16 A (1.4-1.92 kW) depending on the capacity of a dedicated circuit. Nearly all new electric/ electrified vehicles sold in North America will include a Level 1 adapter.
  • AC Level 2: Utilizes 240 V residential or 208 V commercial power to supply between 6 and 80 A (1.4-19.2 kW). This is the most common publicly available and networked station, as it provides a significant charging speed increase over Level 1 charging with many of the same infrastructure benefits.

Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging[edit]

Commonly incorrectly called Level 3 Charging, DC Fast Charging is categorized separately. In DC fast charging, grid power is passed through an AC/DC Inverter before being passed directly to the vehicle's battery, bypassing the onboard charging circuitry.

  • DC Level 1: Supplies a maximum of 80 kW at 50-1000 V.
  • DC Level 2: Supplies a maximum of 400 kW at 50-1000 V.

Additional Standards and Extensions[edit]

In addition to these standards for electric cars and light trucks, an extension to the CCS DCFC standard is being developed for large commercial vehicles. This is being led by the CharIN Association which developed CCS. It will be called High Power Charging for Commercial Vehicles (HPCCV). HPCCV is expected to operate in the range of 200-1500 V and 0-3000 A for a theoretical maximum power of 4.5 MW. The proposal calls for HPCCV charge ports to be compatible with existing CCS and HPC chargers.[17]

Public charging stations[edit]

Public charging park in Germany
Prototype modified Renault Laguna E.V. cars charging at Project Better Place charging stations in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, north of Tel Aviv.
Public charging stations in a parking lot near Los Angeles International Airport. Shown are two old/obsolete (6 kW level-2) EVSE units (left: inductive Magne-charge gen2 SPI, right: conductive EVII ICS-200 AVCON).
REVAi/G-Wiz i charging from an on-street station in London
Car charging point in Scotland

Charging stations for electric vehicles may not need much new infrastructure in developed countries, less than delivering a new alternative fuel over a new network.[18] The stations can leverage the existing ubiquitous electrical grid and home recharging is an option, since most driving is local over short distances which reduces the need for charging mid-trip. For example, in the United States, 78% of commutes are less than 40 miles (64 km) round-trip.[19] Nevertheless, longer drives between cities and towns require a network of public charging stations or another method to extend the range of electric vehicles beyond the normal daily commute. One challenge in such infrastructure is the level of demand: an isolated station along a busy highway may see hundreds of customers per hour if every passing electric vehicle has to stop there to complete the trip. In the first half of the 20th century, internal combustion vehicles faced a similar infrastructure problem.

Currently charging stations are being installed by public authorities, commercial enterprises and some major employers in order to stimulate the market for vehicles that use alternative fuels to gasoline and diesel fuels. For this reason, most charge stations are currently either provided free of charge or accessible to members of certain groups without significant charge (e.g. activated by a free "membership card" or by a digital "day code").

As of December 2012, around 50,000 non-residential charging points were deployed in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.[20] As of August 2014, there are 3,869 CHAdeMO quick chargers deployed around the world, with 1,978 in Japan, 1,181 in Europe and 686 in the United States, 24 in other countries.[21] As of December 2013, Estonia is the first and only country that had completed the deployment of an EV charging network with nationwide coverage, with 165 fast chargers available along highways at a maximum distance of between 40 to 60 km (25 to 37 mi), and a higher density in urban areas.[22][23][24]

As of August 2018, there were 800,000 electric vehicles and 18,000 charging stations in the United States.[25] As of March 2013, 5,678 public charging stations existed across the United States, with 16,256 public charging points, of which 3,990 were located in California, 1,417 in Texas, and 1,141 in Washington.[26][27] As of November 2012, about 15,000 charging stations had been installed in Europe.[28]

As of March 2013, Norway, which has the highest electric ownership per capita, had 4,029 charging points and 127 quick charging stations.[29] As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, the Dutch government initiated a plan to establish over 200 fast (DC) charging stations across the country by 2015. The rollout will be undertaken by Switzerland-based power and automation company ABB and Dutch startup Fastned, and will aim to provide at least one station every 50 kilometres (31 miles) for the Netherlands' 16 million residents.[30] In addition to that, the E-laad foundation installed about 3000 public (slow) charge points since 2009.[31]

As of December 2012, Japan had 1,381 public quick-charge stations, the largest deployment of fast chargers in the world, but only around 300 slow chargers.[20] As of December 2012, China had around 800 public slow charging points, and no fast charging stations.[20] As of December 2012, the country with the highest ratio of quick chargers to electric vehicles (EVSE/EV) was Japan, with a ratio of 0.030, and the Netherlands had the largest ratio of slow EVSE/EV, with more than 0.50, while the U.S had a slow EVSE/EV ratio of 0.20.[20]

As of September 2013, the largest public charging networks in Australia exist in the capital cities of Perth and Melbourne, with around 30 stations (7 kW AC) established in both cities – smaller networks exist in other capital cities.[32]

In April 2017, YPF, the state-owned oil company of Argentina, reported that it will install 220 fast-load stations for electric vehicles in 110 of its service stations in national territory.[33]

As of August 2019, in the U.S., there are 2,140 CHAdeMO charge stations (3,010 plugs), 1,888 SAE CCS1 charge stations (3,525 plugs), and 678 Tesla super charger stations (6,340 plugs), according to the U.S. DoE's Alternative Fuels Data Center.[34]


An Ather Grid electric scooter charger in a park in Bengaluru, India

Charging stations can be found and will be needed where there is on-street parking, at taxi stands, in parking lots (at places of employment, hotels, airports, shopping centers, convenience shops, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses etc.), as well as in the workplaces, in driveways and garages at home. Existing filling stations may also incorporate charging stations. The electrical facilities at RV parks are sometimes used for charging - especially in rural areas where normal EV charging facilities are not available. As of 2017, charging stations have been criticized for being inaccessible, hard to find, out of order, and slow; thus reducing EV expansion.[35] At the same time more gas stations add EV charging stations to meet the increasing demand among EV drivers.[36] Worldwide, hotels are adopting a policy of providing their guests with electric car charging. Recent evidence using machine learning and artificial intelligence suggests that U.S. consumers may be equally satisfied with government-run versus privately run charging stations and that urban locations garner higher negative sentiment as compared to non-urban locations.[37]

Vehicle and charging station projects and joint ventures[edit]

Detail of the wireless inductive charging device

Electric car manufacturers, charging infrastructure providers, and regional governments have entered into many agreements and ventures to promote and provide electric vehicle networks of public charging stations.

The EV Plug Alliance[38] is an association of 21 European manufacturers which proposes an alternative connecting solution. The project is to impose an IEC norm and to adopt a European standard for the connection solution with sockets and plugs for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Members (Schneider Electric, Legrand, Scame, Nexans, etc.) argue that the system is safer because they use shutters. General consensus is that the IEC 62196 and IEC 61851-1 already have taken care of safety by making parts non-live when touchable.[39][40][41]

Battery swapping[edit]

A battery swapping (or switching) station is a place at which a vehicle's discharged battery or battery pack can be immediately swapped for a fully charged one, eliminating the delay involved in waiting for the vehicle's battery to charge. Battery swapping is common in warehouses using electric forklift trucks.[42]


The concept of an exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896, in order to overcome the limited operating range of electric cars and trucks. It was first put into practice between 1910 and 1924, by Hartford Electric Light Company, through the GeVeCo battery service, and was initially available for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle, without a battery, from General Vehicle Company (GeVeCo), part-owned by General Electric,[43] and the electricity was purchased from Hartford Electric through the use of an exchangeable battery. Both vehicles and batteries were modified to facilitate a fast battery exchange. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. During the period of the service, the vehicles covered more than 6 million miles.

Beginning in 1917, a similar successful service was operated in Chicago for owners of Milburn Electric cars, who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries.[44] A rapid battery replacement system was implemented to keep running 50 electric buses at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[45]

The SunRay and Caballito on their way to Micronesia for a conferrence on global warming.

In 1993, Jonathan Tennyson created Suntera, The Solar Electric Chariot Company.[46] With the focus of reintroducing battery-swap stations to the world, Suntera developed a two-seat 3-wheel electric vehicle called the SUNRAY, which came with a battery cartridge that swapped out in minutes at a battery-swap station located along a highway or roadside. In 1995, Jonathan exhibited his SUNRAY and a 2-wheel battery-swap motor scooter designed by TUCKER car designer Budd Steinhilbur [47] at the Geneva Motor Show. After Jonathan Tennyson died from cancer in 1997, his electric car and motor scooter company was renamed Personal Electric Transports[48](P.E.T.). In 2001, P.E.T.’s C.E.O. Anthony Locricchio added Electric Vehicle artist & inventor Todd Bank[49] to the team to prototype Todd’s EV’s and battery-swap stations under pilot-program funding from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Along with Budd’s new electric bus, the P.E.T. team spent the next five years exhibiting their vehicles and battery-swap station designs and physical prototypes around the world. In 2004, Todd's Road Ski, a 3-wheel stand-up EV won 1st place at the 5-day long American Tour De Sol electric vehicle race.[50] Due to lack of interest in BEV’s (battery-Electric vehicles), and hydrogen-highway politics of the time, Personal Electric Transports closed their doors for business in 2006. Jonathan Tennyson's solar-electric car racer and SUNRAY EV were quickly inducted into the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, along with a fuel-cell battery-swap LAND GLIDER EV designed by Todd Bank. P.E.T. battery-swap EV's can also be seen at the California Automotive Museum in Sacramento and the Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona.

In recent years, Better Place, Tesla, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have been involved with integrating battery switch technology with their electric vehicles to extend driving range.[51][52] In a battery switch station, the driver does not need to get out of the car while the battery is swapped.[53] Battery swap requires an electric car designed for the "easy swap" of batteries. However, electric vehicle manufacturers working on battery switch technology have not standardized on battery access, attachment, dimension, location, or type.

In 2013, Tesla announced a proprietary charging station service to support owners of Tesla vehicles. A network of Tesla Supercharger stations was supposed to support both battery pack swaps for the Model S, along with the more-widespread fast charging capability for both the Model S and the Tesla Roadster.[54][55] However, Tesla has abandoned their battery swap initiatives in favor of rapidly expanding fast-charging stations.[56] This decision has driven Tesla to be a market-leader in fast charging stations, amounting to 1,210 stations worldwide, as of April 2018[57] and 1,971 stations (17,467 plugs), as of July 2020.[58]


The following benefits are claimed for battery swapping:

  • Fast battery swapping under five minutes.[59][60]
  • Unlimited driving range where there are battery switch stations available.[61]
  • The driver does not have to get out of the car while the battery is swapped.[62]
  • The driver does not own the battery in the car, transferring costs over the battery, battery life, maintenance, capital cost, quality, technology, and warranty to the battery switch station company.[63]
  • Contract with battery switch company could subsidize the electric vehicle at a price lower than equivalent petrol cars.[64]
  • The spare batteries at swap stations could participate in vehicle to grid storage.[citation needed]


A Better Place battery switching station in Israel

The Better Place network was the first modern commercial deployment of the battery switching model. The Renault Fluence Z.E. was the first electric car enabled with switchable battery technology available for the Better Place network in operation in Israel and Denmark.[65] Better Place launched its first battery-swapping station in Israel, in Kiryat Ekron, near Rehovot in March 2011. The battery exchange process took five minutes.[59][66] Better Place filed for bankruptcy in Israel in May 2013.[67][68] Under Better Place's business model, the company owned the batteries, so the court liquidator had to decide what to do with customers who did not have ownership of the battery and risked being left with a useless car.[69]

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping.[51] In June 2013, Tesla announced its goal of deploying a battery swapping station in each of its supercharging stations. At a demonstration event in 2013, Tesla showed that a battery swap operation with the Model S took just over 90 seconds, about half the time it takes to refill a gasoline-powered car used for comparison purposes during the event.[60][70] The first stations were planned to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California because, according to Tesla, a large number of Model S sedans make the San Francisco-Los Angeles trip regularly. Those stations were to be followed by ones on the Washington, DC, to Boston corridor. Elon Musk said the service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners could pick up their battery pack fully charged on the return trip, which was included in the swap fee. Tesla would also offer the option to keep the pack received on the swap and pay the price difference if the battery received was newer, or to receive the original pack back from Tesla for a transport fee. Pricing had not been determined.[60] In June 2015, Musk indicated that Tesla was likely to abandon its plans to build a network of swap stations. He told his company's shareholders that, despite inviting all Model S owners in the California area to try out the one existing facility, at Harris Ranch, only four or five people had done so. Consequently, it was unlikely that the concept was worth expanding.[71]

Delta's DC EV Quick Charger installed in New Zealand.
Battery Swap Station for light commercial vehicles in Slovakia
Battery Swap Station for light commercial vehicles in Slovakia
loading a Voltia electric LKW battery pack
Loading a Voltia electric LKW battery pack

Other battery swapping service providers include Gogoro, Delta Electronics, BattSwap,[citation needed] and Voltia.[72][73] NIO has 131 swap stations in China.[74]


These battery swapping solution have been criticized for being proprietary. By creating a monopoly regarding the ownership of the batteries and the patent protected technologies the companies split up the market and decrease the chances of a wider usage of battery swapping.[75]

Charging station manufacturers[edit]

The principal suppliers and manufacturers of charging stations offer a range of options from simple charging posts for roadside use, charging cabinets for covered parking places to fully automated charging stations integrated with power distribution equipment[76]

An operator manages charging stations from one or more manufacturers.

Block heater power supplies[edit]

In colder areas such as Finland, some northern US states and Canada there already exists some infrastructure for public power outlets provided primarily for use by block heaters and set with circuit breakers that prevent large current draws for other uses. These can sometimes be used to recharge electric vehicles, albeit slowly.[77] In public lots, some such outlets are turned on only when the temperature falls below −20 °C, further limiting their use.[78]


Voltage and power[edit]

The US-based SAE International defines Level 1 charging as using a standard 120 volt AC house outlet to charge an electric vehicle. This will take a long time to fully charge the car but if only used to commute or travel short distances, a full charge is not needed or can be done overnight.[79] Level 1 is not used in countries where houses typically have 200-240 V.

240 volt AC charging is known as Level 2 charging. In North and South America, 240 V is used for household appliances such as clothes driers but in many countries it is the default for most households. Level 2 chargers range from chargers installed in consumer garages, to relatively slow public chargers. They can charge an electric car battery in 4–10 hours.[80] Level 2 chargers are often placed at destinations so that drivers can charge their car while at work or shopping. Level 2 charge points are standard in many countries outside of North and South America. In North and South America Level 2 home chargers are best for drivers who use their vehicles more often or require more flexibility.

"AC Level 3" charging was defined in early editions of SAE J1772 at up to 400 amps, but has been dropped. Edition 7 of J1772 (2017) states in Appendix M "AC Level 3 charging has never been implemented. The following is historical information for reference only." The term "Level 3" appears to have been adopted colloquially to mean DC "fast" charging, although "Level 3" was never defined to mean that in J1772. Table 17 in Appendix M of J1772 (2017) lists AC Level 2 and AC Level 3 from 208 to 240 VAC, and DC Charging with 208-600 V input and 0–1000 V DC output. A Level 3 charging station may cost $120,000.[81]

DC charging generally supports charging up to 500 volts for passenger cars. Some newer high-end passenger car EVs and many heavy duty EV trucks and buses use DC charging with a nominal DC voltage of 700 V or higher, but below 1000 V peak. The organization CHAdeMO was the world's first standardized fast charging protocol with mass-produced EVs in the market.[82] DC chargers in North America often use a 480 VAC input delivering 62.5 kW (peak power can be as much as 120 kW and is varied across the charge. 208 VAC inputs to the charger are also used, and 400 VAC is standard in Europe. The Tesla Supercharger is the most ubiquitous in the United States.[when?] For a Tesla Model S75, a supercharger can add around 275 km (170 miles) of range in about 30 minutes or a full charge in around 75 minutes.[79] As of April 2018, Tesla reports that they have 1,210 supercharging stations and is continuously expanding the network.[83]

Another standards organization, The International Electrotechnical Commission, defines charging in modes (IEC 62196).

  • Mode 1 – slow charging from a regular electrical socket (single- or three-phase)
  • Mode 2 – slow charging from a regular socket but with some EV specific protection arrangement (e.g., the Park & Charge or the PARVE systems)
  • Mode 3 – slow or fast charging using a specific EV multi-pin socket with control and protection functions (e.g., SAE J1772 and IEC 62196)
  • Mode 4fast charging using some special charger technology such as CHAdeMO

There are three connection cases:

  • Case A is any charger connected to the mains (the mains supply cable is usually attached to the charger) usually associated with modes 1 or 2.
  • Case B is an on-board vehicle charger with a mains supply cable which can be detached from both the supply and the vehicle – usually mode 3.
  • Case C is a dedicated charging station with DC supply to the vehicle. The mains supply cable may be permanently attached to the charge-station such as in mode 4.


Charging connectors: IEC Type 1/SAE J1772 inlet (left); Tesla02 proprietary outlet (centre); IEC Type 2 connector outlet (right)

There are four plug types:

  • Type 1 – single-phase vehicle coupler – reflecting the SAE J1772/2009 automotive plug specifications
  • Type 2 – single- and three-phase vehicle coupler – reflecting the VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2 plug specifications
  • Type 3 – single- and three-phase vehicle coupler equipped with safety shutters – reflecting the EV Plug Alliance proposal
  • Type 4 – fast charge coupler – for special systems such as CHAdeMO

For Combined Charging System (CCS) DC charging which requires PLC (Powerline Communications), two extra connectors are added at the bottom of Type 1 or Type 2 vehicle inlets and charging plugs to connect high voltage DC charging stations to the battery of the vehicle. These are commonly known as Combo 1 or Combo 2 connectors. The choice of Combo 1 or Combo 2 style inlets is normally standardised on a per-country basis, so that public charging providers do not need to fit cables with both variants. Generally, North America uses Combo 1 style vehicle inlets, most of the rest of the world uses Combo 2 style vehicle inlets for CCS.

Reports emerged in late July 2013 of a significant conflict between the companies responsible for the two types of charging plugs. The Japanese-developed CHAdeMO standard is favored by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota, while the SAE J1772 Combo standard is backed by GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW. Both are direct-current quick-charging systems designed to charge the battery of an electric vehicle to 80 percent in approximately 20 minutes, but the two systems are completely incompatible. In light of an ongoing feud between the two groups, experts in the field warned that the momentum of the electric vehicle market will be severely affected.[84][85] Richard Martin, editorial director for clean technology marketing and consultant firm Navigant Research, stated:

Fast charging, however and whenever it gets built out, is going to be key for the development of a mainstream market for plug-in electric vehicles. The broader conflict between the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors, we see that as a hindrance to the market over the next several years that needs to be worked out.[85]

EV charging station signs[edit]

US traffic sign used for EV charging station
Public-domain international charge station sign

In the United States, the standard charging station sign is defined in the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) 2009 edition.[86]

In July 2013, FHWA released interim MUTCD approval for charging station signs located on public roads governed by MUTCD standards.[87]

There is an open source, public domain European charge station sign proposed.[88]

Related technologies[edit]

Smart grid communication[edit]

Recharging a large battery pack presents a high load on the electrical grid, but this can be scheduled for periods of reduced load or reduced electricity costs. In order to schedule the recharging, either the charging station or the vehicle can communicate with the smart grid. Some plug-in vehicles allow the vehicle operator to control recharging through a web interface or smartphone app.[89] Furthermore, in a vehicle-to-grid scenario the vehicle battery can supply energy to the grid at periods of peak demand. This requires additional communication between the grid, charging station, and vehicle electronics. SAE International is developing a range of standards for energy transfer to and from the grid including SAE J2847/1 "Communication between Plug-in Vehicles and the Utility Grid".[90][91] ISO and IEC are also developing a similar series of standards known as ISO/IEC 15118: "Road vehicles -- Vehicle to grid communication interface".

Renewable electricity and RE charging stations[edit]

Charging stations are usually connected to the electrical grid, which often means that their electricity originates from fossil-fuel power stations or nuclear power plants. Solar power is also suitable for electric vehicles. Nidec Industrial Solutions has designed a system that can be powered by either the grid or renewable energy sources like PV (50-320 kW). SolarCity is marketing its solar energy systems along with electric car charging installations. The company has announced a partnership with Rabobank to make electric car charging available for free to owners of Tesla vehicles traveling on Highway 101 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Other cars that can make use of same charging technology are welcome.[92]

Several Chevrolet Volts at a charging station powered with solar panels in Frankfort, Illinois.

SPARC station[edit]

The SPARC (Solar Powered Automotive ReCharging Station) uses a single custom fabricated monocrystalline solar panel capable of producing 2.7 kW of peak power to charge pure electric or plug-in hybrid to 80% capacity without drawing electricity from the local grid.[citation needed] Plans for the SPARC include a non-grid tied system as well as redundancy for tying to the grid through a renewable power plan.[citation needed]

E-Move charging station[edit]

The E-Move Charging Station is equipped with eight monocrystalline solar panels, which can supply 1.76 kWp of solar power. With further refinements, the designers are hoping to generate about 2000 kWh of electricity from the panels over the year.[93]

Wind-powered charging station[edit]

In 2012, Urban Green Energy introduced the world's first wind-powered electric vehicle charging station, the Sanya SkyPump. The design features a 4 kW vertical-axis wind turbine paired with a GE WattStation.[94]

See also[edit]


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