What Is AC EV Charger? Pros, Cons, and Types – Comprehensive
Electric vehicles (EVs) rapidly transform our roadways, promising cleaner, more sustainable transportation. At the heart of this revolution is a critical component – the EV charger. These devices replenish the power of our electric vehicles, much like a fuel pump does for traditional gasoline cars.
However, with the rise of EVs, understanding the various charging options becomes essential for prospective and current EV owners. Among the types of chargers available, Alternating Current (AC) chargers are a prominent option, offering a blend of convenience, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility.
This comprehensive guide will delve into the world of AC EV chargers, demystifying their workings and examining their various types.
What is an AC EV charger?
An AC (Alternating Current) EV (Electric Vehicle) charger is a device that provides electric energy to recharge electric vehicles using AC from the power grid. The power from an AC charger is converted to DC (Direct Current) by the vehicle’s onboard charger to charge the battery.
An AC EV charger consists of three key components:
- The connector or charging plug: This connects the charger to the vehicle.
- The power unit regulates the flow of electricity from the power source to the vehicle. The team pulls AC power from the grid, and the vehicle’s onboard charger converts it to DC power.
- The user interface can be a screen or a simple LED indicator showing the charging status.
When to use it
It is mainly suitable for home charging, residential, public, and office parking. It only takes 5-8 hours to charge the car with charging AC Compared with a DC EV charger, an AC EV charger has less loss to the car battery.
An AC EV charger is crucial to the infrastructure supporting electric vehicles. It offers a flexible charging solution that can be used in various locations, from homes to workplaces to public charging stations, making EV ownership more convenient and practical.
Regarding AC EV chargers, I have to introduce a DC EV charger; click here to read everything about it.
How does it work
An AC (Alternating Current) EV (Electric Vehicle) charger works by converting AC from the power grid into DC (Direct Current) that can be used to charge an electric vehicle’s battery. Here are the steps of how this works:
- Connection. The charger is connected to the electric vehicle via a charging cable that fits into a charging port on the car.
- AC Supply. Once connected, the charger draws AC from the power source (a standard home outlet or a specially installed charging point).
- Communication. The charger and the vehicle communicate to establish things like the maximum safe level of current and the charging speed.
- Conversion. The AC power is fed into the vehicle’s onboard charger. The onboard charger’s job is to convert the AC power into DC power. It’s important to note that the charging speed can depend on the capacity of this onboard charger. If it can only handle a specific power conversion rate, having a more robust charging point will not necessarily result in faster charging.
- Charging. The converted DC power is then used to assess the vehicle’s battery. During this process, the charger monitors the battery status and modulates the charging rate to prevent damage to the battery. It typically slows down as the storm gets closer to full charge.
- Completion. Once the battery is fully charged, the charger will automatically stop charging, although it will usually still maintain a trickle charge to keep the battery at total capacity. The vehicle and charger then stop communicating, and it’s safe to disconnect the charging cable.
It’s worth noting that while AC EV chargers are standard due to their lower cost and more straightforward installation, they generally offer slower charging compared to DC fast chargers, which provide DC directly to the vehicle’s battery, bypassing the onboard converter and thus achieving much quicker charging times.
Why Use the AC EV Charger?
Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers come in different forms and can broadly be categorized into AC (Alternating Current) chargers and DC (Direct Current) chargers. Here are several reasons why one might opt to use an AC EV charger:
- Home Charging. AC chargers are commonly used for home charging because residential electrical systems generally operate on AC power. This means you can conveniently charge your vehicle overnight, ensuring it’s ready for use the following day.
- Cost. AC chargers are typically less expensive than DC fast chargers, both in terms of the unit and installation costs. This makes them a more economical option for many EV owners.
- Battery Health. Slow, steady charging using AC power is generally better for the long-term health of EV batteries. Rapid DC charging can generate heat and stress the battery, potentially reducing its lifespan.
- Grid Stability. Slow charging is also easier on the electrical grid. If everyone with an EV were to use fast DC chargers, it could significantly strain the grid, especially during peak usage times.
- Wide Availability of Charging Stations. Many public and private parking spaces have Level 2 AC chargers. These are easy to use and, while not as fast as DC fast chargers, they provide ample charging for people parking for a few hours or more.
However, it’s important to note that the choice between AC and DC charging isn’t an either/or situation. Many EV owners use AC charging for their daily charging needs and then use DC fast chargers for long trips when they need to recharge quickly on the road. The best solution depends on your specific needs and circumstances.
What are the different levels of AC EV charging?
The AC (Alternating Current) electric vehicle (EV) charging levels are Levels 1 and 2.
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 Charging is the simplest form of EV charging. A standard 120-volt AC household outlet can take 8 to 20 hours or more to fully charge an electric vehicle.
They typically provide about 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging, making them best suited for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or overnight charging for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with smaller batteries.
Level 2 Charging
Level 2 chargers require a 240-volt AC circuit, similar to what extensive household appliances use (like clothes dryers or ovens).
Level 2 chargers are significantly faster than Level 1. On average, a fully depleted battery can be fully charged in 4-6 hours with a Level 2 charger, although some high-capacity batteries may take longer.
And it provides about 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging. This makes them suitable for all-electric vehicles and charging at public charging stations.
Please note that the charge rates can vary widely depending on the car’s acceptance rate and the amperage of the Level 2 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), among other factors. In other parts of the world, where residential voltages are typically higher, the distinction between Level 1 and Level 2 charging may differ.
How do I get started with AC EV charging?
If you’ve recently purchased an electric vehicle (EV) or are considering buying one, setting up an AC EV charging station can be straightforward. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Understand the Basics. Familiarize yourself with the basics of EV charging. As I mentioned in earlier responses, there are different levels of charging. Most home charging occurs at Level 1 (standard 120V outlet) or Level 2 (240V outlet).
- Choose the Right Charger for Your Needs. If you plan on charging mainly at home. Your daily driving is within the range provided by a night’s charge at Level 1, and you may not need anything more than the charging cord that comes with your EV. If you drive long distances daily, invest in a Level 2 charger for faster charging.
- Check Your Vehicle Compatibility. Not all EVs and charging stations use the same type of plug, although many use the J1772 standard in the US. Make sure that the charger you select is compatible with your vehicle.
- Home Installation. For Level 2 charging at home, you may need to hire a professional electrician to install a 240V outlet unless you already have one (like those used for large appliances). Then, you can plug in a portable Level 2 charger or install a permanent one. Always follow local codes and regulations.
- Public Charging. Familiarize yourself with the public charging options available in your area. There are various networks; some may require membership or specific payment methods.
- Mobile Apps. Many EV manufacturers and charging network providers have mobile apps that can guide you to the nearest charging station, allow you to pay for charging, and sometimes even monitor your vehicle’s charging status.
- Understand Your Electricity Bill. Depending on where you live, your utility may offer special rates for EV owners or lower rates for off-peak charging. Understanding your electricity rates can help you save money.
- Maintenance. Generally, EV charging stations require minimal maintenance but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Check occasionally for any wear and tear.
- Lastly, always follow the vehicle manufacturer’s guidance regarding charging procedures to maintain the health and longevity of your EV’s battery.
How can we help you?
Piwin is one of the best AC EV charger suppliers in China; if you have any questions, contact our experts, and we will reply within 30 minutes.
- Provide a one-stop service.
- Provide customized logo, language, appearance, etc.
- Provide technical support, OCPP joint debugging, etc.
Provide after-sales service and engineer solutions.