What to consider when choosing an electric car charger
Safety is the most important aspect when installing a charging station for your electric car. But you should also think about the future.
Are you one of those people who still charge your electric car via the wall socket? This is entirely legal, as long as the wall socket meets a number of requirements from the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB). But it should be avoided other than in “emergency charging situations”.
This is also important in communal parking facilities
Simen Døvre at K2 Elektro has the impression that the majority of people have become better at budgeting in the costs of home chargers when buying their first electric car.
But there are many who are lagging behind, such as housing cooperatives, co-ownership properties and business owners.
“They should also see the benefits of installing charging stations. It doesn’t only make the garage facilities safer. It is also a great investment for when the residents eventually sell their properties,” he says.
Charging stations provides peace of mind
“It takes a great deal of power to charge an electric car at a continuous load. It means that the charging station and installation have to be dimensioned to prevent the risk of overheating and, in the worst case scenario, fire. A number of wall socket fires have been seen as a result of electric cars,” says Knut Braut from ZAPTEC.
Further reading: ZAPTEC provides safe, smart charging for electric vehicles
Choose a smart charger
What kind of charger should you choose for your electric car?
Døvre and Braut both recommend buying a powerful and smart charging station.
In your own garage at home, a smart charging station will be able to control the output and adjust it downwards when you are using a lot of power, for example while cooking, and then “give it some gas” afterwards. In a communal garage or parking facility, the output can be adjusted up or down depending on how many other cars are charging at the same time. This ensures maximum utilisation of the available power in the building without requiring any upgrades to the electrical network.
Further reading: Everything you need to know about electric car charging
A static charging station, on the other hand, would have to be configured for lower output for each charging point to avoid overloading the system and the limits of the main fuse. It is then a short jump to saying that there is not enough capacity and you want to upgrade the power inlet to get a higher output for electric car charging.
“Even though the car you have now cannot be charged at such a high output for this to be necessary, you should think about the future. Your next electric car will probably charge at a higher output,” says Simen Døvre.
For the same reason, he recommends choosing a charging station that can also charge 3-phase at 230 volts. While this was only possible for Teslas before, it is now also a possibility for Audi e-tron and e-Golf cars.
Other requirements you should place on your charging station
To meet the requirements applicable to charging systems, you should also ensure that your charging station meets the majority of the following:
- Integrated earth fault protection relay in the charging station: ensures that charging stops if an earth fault is detected. This is especially important for electric cars, as the chassis of the car is attached to earth during charging and a common fault in the charging system of the car is of a type that is not detected by the earth fault breaker in the fusebox. You do not want to experience electric shock as a result of an earth fault in your electric car.
- The mechanical protection of the charging station itself must be resilient to shocks, dust, water and sun. In short, the charging station must be safe over time, even if you were to knock into it with a ladder. It must also be able to withstand UV rays, water and large temperature fluctuations without the plastic becoming brittle.
- Type 2 connectors are standard in Europe and mean that all electric cars can be charged using the charging station. Buying a charging station with a fixed charging cable offers less flexibility as it will be specific to the car it is intended for. There are several different variants, such as Type 1 or Type 2 charging connectors for cars, single phase or 3-phase power and 16, 20 or 32 ampere charging current. It is easier to buy a new charging cable if you buy a new car than to replace the entire charging station.
For larger charging systems, the following is also important:
- Integrated fuses are a major advantage in larger systems, such as for housing cooperatives or workplaces. In the event that an overload fault occurs, the integrated fuses will ensure that the fault is resolved locally instead of the entire charging system being stopped. This prevents the entire neighbourhood from being unable to charge their cars as a result of your charging cable being damaged.
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