Electric vehicles (EVs) are going from strength to strength globally, and their rise has taken hold in Ireland, with more people choosing electric when upgrading their car. 

The most obvious difference between electric vehicles and petrol or diesel fuelled cars is that they have a battery, which is powered by electricity rather than burning gas. 

For the battery to run, it must be charged by an electric vehicle charger, which come in three different Levels and are made up of a number of components. We’ll explain everything you need to know about these different electric car chargers, and explain the function of each of the EV charger components.

Electric Vehicle Charger Components

What is an EV Charger?

An electric vehicle charger is what is needed in order for your car to run. It charges the battery by way of electricity, which can come from the main power supply for home chargers. 

The type of electricity used depends on the level of charger that is being used – Level 1 and 2 use AC electricity, while Level 3 chargers, which are generally not used for home charging, use DC electricity. 

Both Level 1 and Level 2 are commonly used for home EV charging, and while they can both charge the battery of your car, there are many benefits that Level 2 chargers have which set them apart from their Level 1 counterparts.

EV Home Charging in Ireland

Type 1 Charger

  • Included when purchasing a new electric vehicle
  • Slow charging speeds
  • Uses a 120-volt 3 prong household power socket
  • AC electricity charges the EV battery
  • May not be suitable for people who have long commutes
  • Can give around 5km for each hour of charge

Type 3 Charger

  • Much faster than Level 1 charging
  • Can typically charge an EV to 80% overnight
  • Used for home charging
  • Government grant of €300 available towards installation and unit cost
  • Also used at many public and work charge points

Type 3 Charger

  • Not suited to home charging
  • Fastest of all charging types
  • Uses DC electricity to charge car batteries
  • Can charge car batteries to 80% in just 30 minutes
  • Sometimes found along motorway service stations

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What components make up an EV Charge Unit?

There are a number of components that make up an electric car charger, including the power source, the connector, power cable, control board and user interface. 

Each of these components have their own unique function, and work together in order to provide the battery of electric vehicles with the electricity they require.

The power source is one of the most important components of an EV charging system. The electrical infrastructure is the foundation of home charge points, and Level 1 and Level 2 chargers both use AC electricity.

You should ensure that the maximum electricity capacity of your home is adequate, as charging an electric car battery is energy intensive. 

While most homes will be able to handle the load associated with charging an EV, in some cases an upgrade to the electricity infrastructure and meter box may be needed.

Many home chargers are now equipped with smart features, however, which can regulate energy usage, preventing any issues associated with the high load.

IEC 62196

The connector is essentially the plug which is inserted into the electric vehicle. In Ireland and across Europe, IEC 62196 connectors are typically used to charge EVs at home. 

They are sometimes called ‘Mennekes connectors’, after the German plug manufacturer which originally proposed it in 2009.  The circular connector has a flattened top edge and 7 pins. These connectors have a typical maximum electrical output of 7.2 kW using single-phase AC, and 22 kW with three-phase AC. In 2013, the IEC 62196 Type 2 connector was chosen as the official AC charging plug of the European Union by the European Commission. Since then, it has been adopted as the recommended connector in many countries across the world.

CCS

Combined Charging System (CCS) is a connector that combines a Type 2 AC connector with two additional DC pins, and supports charging up to 350 kW. These are used for fast charging at some public charge points in Ireland.

CHAdeMO

Also used for fast charging, these connectors use DC electricity in electric vehicles at some charge points across the country. They can supply up to 62.5kW of electricity — typically 50kW.

The charging cable is the other main component of all battery electric vehicle chargers, alongside the plug, or connector. Power cables attach the connector to the power source at the wall or stand-alone unit which is connected to the grid. 

The power cable’s quality and length can affect the safety and convenience of charging an electric car. Length is important, as shorter cables may be more suitable for restricted spaces, while longer cables could be more useful in open areas. The cable’s flexibility is another important factor to consider. More flexible cables can be easier to handle, however, they are potentially more damage prone.

The user interface or management system of an electric vehicle home charger can make the charging process much clearer and efficient. 

Touchscreens can display information such as the charging status and energy being used, while mobile apps for phones and tablets can allow EV owners to manage their charging remotely, choosing when to begin and end the process. 

For commercial EV charge units, other management features allow station owners to manage payments and handle user authentication.

The Cost of EV Chargers in Ireland

With the grant of €300 from the SEAI, it could cost between €800 and €1,200 to have a charge unit installed in your home. The grant is open to everyone, whether they own an EV or not. 

To receive the €300 grant (previously €600 before January 2024), a Safe Electric Registered Electrical Contractor must be used. Eligibility criteria also include off-street (at home) parking, and the charger being connected to the back of the home.

Cost of EV charging station for business

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