Choosing the right EV Charger in Europe
We know, this is isn't the last article you'll read about choosing the right home charger, and it's also probably not the first. Getting the basics down with home chargers is a must and should not be neglected, because you and your battery's safety are at stake.
Where to start:
The first thing you have to ask yourself is, where will I be installing this? If you live in a stand-alone house, then you're in luck and you'll be able to do as you please. However, if you live in an apartment complex or multi-unit housing where the grid is connected, you'll need to find the proper authorities and ask them if you are allowed to install an AC charger.
Notice how I said AC charger. There are available DC chargers, which stands for direct current as opposed to AC or alternating current. However DC chargers are much more expensive and tend to be used in commercial settings. For the vast majority of individuals, an AC charger will be perfectly fine for their needs. Since your battery's capacity is based on DC power, your car will convert the AC power internally into DC power for storage in the battery.
The next question is how fast do you want your car to charge? The speed of charge is directly related to three different units of measurement. Kilowatts, Amps, and Volts.
Watts = Amps x Volts
Watts can be thought of as the speed of which energy is created or used. In EV charging cases you will see chargers posted in kW Kilowatts in which 1000 watts = 1 kW
Amperes or Amps for short can be thought of as the strength of an electrical current or the volume of electricity flowing through an electrical circuit. Higher amps means faster charge times.
Volts differ from country to country with Europe being 230 volts and 50Hz.. Volts can be thought of as the speed at which the electricity passes through which is directly related to the pressure which pushes it through.
So how is this important to your EV charger? To keep it simple, slower charges will likely have lower kW's and amps, and faster chargers the opposite.
If you can choose 22kW over 7kW then do it as you'll be charging faster. We should mention you'll need to check to see if you have single phase or three phase electricity supply. Most of Europe has 3 phase supplied energy so you're in luck. 3 Phase can support the 22kW which will lead to a quicker charge. Different car models have different accepted charging speeds, so that's something to keep in mind, however, a good EV charger like Autel's AC Wallbox will last a long time (3 year warranty, standard useage life of 8 years, and tested beyond 13 years) so it's better to prepare for future EV's which will get better and more efficient at charging over time even if your current EV can't support 22kW yet.
What about weather protection?
Protection from weather is a must if you are installing outside, and IP ratings are a good way to know how protected your EV charger will be. If you plan on installing your EV charger outside where it's exposed to the elements, you should likely look for an IP rating of no less than IP54 with IP65 being the ideal solution. IP65 protects from dust, and water directed and shot from a nozzle. IP54 has limited dust protections and can protect from water being sprayed. If you are planning on an indoor install then you can be more lax with weather protection and an IP41 would likely do but you will have no dust protection and only condensation protection.
Lastly we will mention safety standards. In Europe the German TUV certification is the current standard and means the EV charger has passed a thorough safety check. If the charger doesn't have this, we would advise to stay away. No need to risk buying a product that could fail or hasn't gone through rigorous testing, because safety is always paramount.
Other useful features that aren't strictly necessary but definitely nice to have include
- APP connectivity- Being able to monitor your charge via bluetooth or over Wifi with an APP. Functions may vary but you can setup charging schedules, see charging kW's and times, as well as comparing charging history.
- RFID car- If you plan on sharing a charger with someone or multiple people and RFID card solution would work best. When you're ready to charge you can swipe your card and the charger will know who is initiating the charge and keep track of how much energy is used by each person.
- Stand options- If you prefer your charger to be mounted on a stand as opposed to the wall it's good to have sturdy options to choose from that are from the manufacturer. This way you end up with a matching stand built for your charger and don't need to go out and build one yourself or have one custom made which could get pricey.
This is a run down of choosing an EV charger and is surely not an exhaustive list. There are many more functions such as RFID card swiping to charge, APP interfaces, smart charging ability, touchscreen functions, etc. Do some research and figure out what works best for you. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.
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