Choosing the Right EV Charger for Your Needs

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Guide

 

As more individuals and businesses make the switch to EVs, the demand for charging infrastructure is on the rise. And part of this demand is choosing the right EV charger for your needs. This is a crucial step in ensuring convenient and efficient charging. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the factors to consider when selecting an EV charger, empowering you to make an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and requirements.

 

Charging Speeds and Levels

EV chargers come in varying speeds from 3kW all the way up to 360kW+. These speeds have different levels assigned to them to help you determine, generally how quickly your vehicle will charge. The three main levels are:

 

Level 1:

Level 1 charging is the charging power that most people utilise currently, this charge is up to around 3kW being the power that comes out of a standard 3 pin plug. Not from a charger. At this power output the chargers are the slowest charging option taking up to if not longer than 18 hours to charge a car from 20 – 80%. This charging method is only ever recommended as a backup solution when there are issues with a charger This uses a standard household outlet (120V) and is the slowest charging option, suitable for overnight charging or as a backup solution.

 

Level 2:

Level 2 charging encapsulates chargers from the 3- 22kW range. These chargers are most commonly found in residential and lower dwell time businesses. Dependant on the charger output you purchase you can expect charging speeds between 4-13 hours on average. With 7kW chargers usually being the maximum capabilities available for residential charging solutions, and 22kWs being most commonly found at hotels and other long stay locations.

 

Level 3 (DC Fast Charging):

Level 3 charging also known as rapid or fast charging at the fastest chargers available. These chargers have a huge range from 20kW all the way up to 360kW. Having an average charge time of 150min – 2 hours dependant on the speed of the charger and vehicle capacity. All chargers found at this level are DC –  meaning that the power that is supplied to them is using direct current instead of AC (Alternative current), that is found in lower level chargers. These chargers are most commonly found in public charging stations like motorway service stations and other short stay locations.

 

Understanding your and your customers daily driving patterns and charging requirements is essential in helping determine which level of charger is the best fit for you.

 

Charging Location

Where you plan to install the charger is another crucial factor to consider whether you need a home charger or if you require a charger for your workplace or public locations.

 

Home Charging:

For residential charging, a Lower end level 2 charger is often the preferred choice, providing a balance between charging speed and cost. Most households will have an adequate supply to run a 7kW charger with no issue. However, you should always ensure you have adequate electrical capacity to support the charger, and consider factors like cable length and weather protection for outdoor installations.

 

Workplace Charging:

If you’re looking for a charger for workplace solutions. Understanding your staff and customer types is essential. If you have a very static based workspace, a higher end level 2 may be substantial to offer your staff the charge they need. While if your workplace runs in a more active way, looking at low to mid-tier level 3s may be more your speed.

 

Public Charging:

Public charging stations vary widely in terms of charging speed and availability. Level 3 chargers are usually found in public locations for quick top-ups, while Level 2 chargers are more common for longer stays. For situation like these it can be educational to complete a feasibility study to best understand where and how long potential customers dwell time is and install accordingly. To learn more about public charging check out our blog here.

 

Compatibility

When looking at a worldwide network not all EVs are compatible with every charger type. Before purchasing a charger, it can be educational to ensure that it’s compatible with your vehicle’s charging port and capabilities. Luckily in the UK most vehicles have a standardised port that allows the public charging network be more sufficient with only a few small exceptions. These main connectors are CHAdeMO or CCS connectors. So often times if the charger is for public use utilising an untethered solution can allow you to be compatible with most vehicles.

 

Smart Features and Connectivity

Most modern EV chargers come with smart features or can have smart features installed onto them that enhance user experience and convenience for a range of different uses. It is important that you always choose a charger that has the features that you need for your business.

 

Connectivity:

In order for a charger to be ‘smart’ it is essential that there is some way to can connect it to the internet in order to control it. These chargers can have either wi-fi connectivity, 4G connectivity, ethernet or even a mix of any of those 3. You should always analyse which of these options are best for your charger location and choose accordingly.

 

Backoffice

The Backoffice is an uncommonly spoke about aspect of EV chargers with most charger brands having their own versions that have different capabilities, these different capabilities include:

 

Scheduling and Timers:

Scheduling and timers is exactly what it sounds like, enabling you or your customers to set charging schedules. This not only allows the consumers to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates and ensuring their car is fully charged when they need it, but it also allows customers to plan their day effectively and reserve the chargepoint for use later on.

 

Energy Monitoring:

If the data around monitoring is important for you it may be worth looking at these features. Allowing you to track your charging usage, average charging time sustainability targets and also helps optimize your energy consumption.

 

Payment Integration:

For chargers that are going to be used for profit payment integration is essential. Many backoffices offer these types of payment solutions directly from the charger or associated apps.

 

There are also third party backoffices available that usually have a larger amount of features within to allow you to do all of these different features and more. This also allows you to install different brands of chargers with them still being able to communicate with each other.

 

Installation and Costs

The cost of purchasing and installing an EV charger can vary significantly. Factors influencing costs include charger type, electrical upgrades, labour costs, maintenance and materials needed. To learn how to save money on your EV chargepoint installation check out our blog here.

 

Brand Reputation and Warranty

Opt for chargers from reputable manufacturers with a history of producing reliable and safe charging equipment. A good warranty will provide you with peace of mind and protection against potential defects, but also look for installers that offer inspection and testing and maintenance contracts due to the legal need to reach safety standards for businesses. To find an installer that can do this for you check out our blog “How to choose an OZEV approved installer”.

Conclusion

Selecting the right EV charger is a critical step in maximizing the convenience and benefits of electric vehicle ownership. By considering factors such as charging speeds, location, compatibility, features, installation, and costs, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your individual needs and lifestyle. As the EV landscape continues to evolve, investing time in research and planning will undoubtedly pay off in the form of seamless and efficient charging experiences for years to come. If you need help deciding on the best charger for you enquire now.

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