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The charging station - your guide to the ideal charging station for electric vehicles

February 22, 2024

The future is electric. With the increasing importance of electric vehicles (EVs), the demand for a reliable, efficient and accessible charging infrastructure is also growing. Charging stations play a crucial role in this. They are the filling stations of the 21st century and an indispensable part of the electric mobility ecosystem. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about charging stations - from the basics to the latest developments.


Charging station basics


Charging stations, also known as charging points or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), are devices that provide electrical energy for charging plug-in electric vehicles. These include battery electric vehicles, electric trucks, electric buses, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.


Types of charging stations


There are two main types of charging stations - alternating current (AC) charging stations and direct current (DC) fast charging stations. Electric vehicle batteries can only be charged with direct current, while electricity from the grid is usually supplied as alternating current. This is why most electric vehicles have a built-in AC/DC converter, also known as an onboard charger.

With an AC charging station, the alternating current is supplied directly to this internal charger, which converts it into direct current and thus charges the battery. DC fast charging stations, on the other hand, already have the converter integrated and supply the direct current directly to the vehicle, bypassing the internal conversion. This type of charging station enables significantly faster charging than AC stations.


Standards for charging stations


There are various international standards for charging stations that are intended to ensure interoperability between different providers. These standards include nomenclature, performance characteristics and connector types.


Several organizations, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), have defined standards for charging connectors and protocols. Tesla, as one of the main players in the field of electromobility, has developed its own proprietary technologies, but is increasingly opening up its network to vehicles from other manufacturers.

Charging power and times


The charging capacity of charging stations is specified in kilowatts (kW). The charging time of an electric vehicle depends on several factors, including the capacity of the vehicle battery, the charging power of the charging station and the current battery charge. As a general rule, the higher the charging capacity, the shorter the charging time.


Public vs. private charging stations


Public charging stations are accessible to all users and are often located on roadsides, in shopping centers, at public facilities and in parking lots. Private charging stations, on the other hand, are usually installed in residential buildings, at the workplace or in hotels.


Choosing the right charging station


Choosing the right charging station depends on various factors. Here are some considerations you should take into account when making your choice:


Location and accessibility


Think about where the charging station should be installed. Should it be at home, at work or in a public place? Accessibility is crucial, especially if you plan to make the charging station publicly accessible.


Charging power and speed


Decide what charging power makes sense for your needs. For home use, an AC charging station might be sufficient, while a DC fast charging station might be appropriate in high-traffic locations such as cab ranks or fleet parking lots.


Plug types and compatibility


Make sure that the charging station is compatible with your vehicle. The most common plug types in Europe are type 2 (Mennekes) and the CCS system (Combined Charging System). Vehicles from North America and Japan often use type 1 (SAE J1772) or CHAdeMO.


Smart functions


Modern charging stations offer smart functions such as app integration, remote monitoring and dynamic load management. These can significantly improve the charging experience and are particularly interesting for operators of multiple charging stations.


Costs


Consider the total cost, including purchase, installation and maintenance. There may be government subsidies or grants that can reduce costs.


Sustainability


Think about the environment. Some charging stations use renewable energy or can be combined with solar panels to ensure a sustainable energy supply.


Installation and operation of a charging station


The installation of a charging station should always be carried out by a qualified electrician to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations. After installation, it is important to maintain the charging station regularly to ensure optimal functionality and safety.


The future of charging stations


Charging station technology is constantly evolving. Trends such as inductive charging, ultra-fast charging and V2G (vehicle-to-grid), where electric vehicles can feed electricity back into the grid, are promising developments that could revolutionize electromobility.