Quick guide: What you need to know about electric vehicle chargers

Planning to buy an EV?
by Drei Laurel | Jul 11, 2022
photo of a Jaguar I-Pace recharging at the Shell Recharge station in SLEX Mamplasan
PHOTO: Leandre Grecia

On paper, the lapse of the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) into law is a sign that perhaps Philippine motoring is finally ready to start making up lost ground in electric vehicle adoption. But it isn’t just infrastructure or import guidelines where we need to play catch-up—there’s a ton of basic EV know-how we need to read up on as well.

One such topic is charging. Now, we reckon many of you have grasped the basic concept already: You plug in, juice up, and get to driving. How often you drive and need to charge, though, will depend on where and how you go about the entire process.

The three levels of EV charging

Electric vehicle being charged

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There are three levels of EV charging: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. See? Not so hard, is it?

On a more serious note, your charging time and experience will differ vastly with each one. Let’s get into them.

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Level 1 charging

Also known as trickle charging, this is easily the most convenient way to go about juicing up. All you need is a regular power outlet you can plug your car’s included charging cable into. This requires no installation work at all.

As the name implies, though, this is also by far the slowest option. Trickle charging can restore between 13km to 16km of range per hour. Depending on the size of your EV’s battery, you could need to be plugged in for up to a day or more if you’re charging from empty.

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On the bright side, Level 1 charging is perfectly adequate for regular day-to-day use provided you plug in whenever possible.

Level 2 charging

This is where a home-installed wallbox comes in. Level 2 charging utilizes the same circuit (up to 240V) that heavy-duty appliances like washing machines and dryers use. You can also find these devices at some malls and parking lots.

Using a Level 2 charging wallbox will charge your EV up to three to four times faster than Level 1 trickle charging, depending on what your charger is rated for. A 40kWh EV battery can be topped up in six hours if you go this route, so filling up overnight is definitely doable.

Keep in mind, though, that installing a wallbox inside your garage will require a certified electrician.

Level 3 charging

It might not refill your range as fast as a traditional gas pump does with a regular fuel tank, but it’s the closest thing to it. Level 3 charging is the quickest way to go about filling up a battery, as it sends a DC current straight from the power grid at up to 350kW. This allows EVs to be juiced up and ready to go in minutes, not hours.

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Tesla’s supercharging network is an example of a Level 3 charging setup, with the car brand claiming over 320km of range charged in just 15 minutes using its proprietary cable. If that isn’t quick, we don’t know what is.

A word of caution, though: Some EV manufacturers advise against the use of fast chargers often, as it can speed up battery degradation.

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Charging cables

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What charging cable you use depends on what level of charging you plan to go with. Level 1 and Level 2 charging, for example, utilize an alternating current (AC), while Level 3 fast chargers use a direct current (DC). This is reflected in the cables they use.

Type 1 charger

A Type 1 charging cable comes with five pins and an 11kW capacity, supports 230V, and is rated for up to 32A. There’s a common household socket on the other end.

Type 2 charger

This features seven pins and up to 43kW of capacity, supports 230V or 440V, and is rated for up to 32A.

CHAdeMO

This featurse a four-pin connector and 50-100kW of charging capacity, with support for 500V, and is rated for a 125A current.

Type 2 CCS

A Type 2 CCS charging cable has nine pins, supports up to 170kW of capacity and 450V, is are rated for a 125A DC current.

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AC vs. DC charging

Yes, all these currents and kilowatts being thrown around can make this topic seem like rocket science, but it’s actually a pretty simple concept to grasp.

AC chargers send an AC current to your EV’s on-board charger, which then converts the current to DC. DC chargers, meanwhile, bypass this process entirely and juice up your EV battery directly, hence the faster charge time. Simple enough, right?

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Factors that affect EV charging

Battery size and charge

Obviously, batteries with a larger capacity will take longer to fill up compared to those with smaller ones. EVs also tend to charge faster the lower their battery level is.

Temperature

With all that electricity flowing into your vehicle’s battery, you can bet a fair bit of heat is created in the charging process. As with smartphones, an EV’s on-board battery management system will work to prevent overheating by reducing the charging rate. Something to keep in mind when choosing where you plug in.

Battery health

EV batteries degrade over charges and time, eventually resulting in less range. To prolong your EV’s battery health, manufacturers say you should avoid exposing your electric car to high temperatures for a prolonged period, using fast chargers too often, and filling your charge up to 100%.

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PHOTO: Leandre Grecia
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