Buying an electric vehicle and not sure which charger you need? Here’s what to consider when purchasing your new charger or charging station.
Power delivery explained
If you find electrical terms confusing, we’ll try to keep this as simple as possible! Power delivery is measured in amps. This is important because it helps you understand what sort of charger you need.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have smaller batteries than full battery electric vehicles (BEVs). That means you don’t need as many amps to charge them. Typically, PHEVs can only accept 16 amps, so buying a more heavy-duty charger is a waste of money. BEVs, on the other hand, can accept up to 48 amps. In very basic terms, the extra amps determine how fast your vehicle will charge.
It’s important to consider this carefully because your needs really depend on how you use the car. If you only want to do a full charge every few days, you’ll need your charger to be strong enough for a full charge overnight. If you just like to top the car up every night, a charger with fewer amps may be fine.
Do I need smart features?
Some EV car chargers come with a range of smart features. Much like other ‘smart’ items around the home, you can do more with these chargers. Features include the ability to monitor real-time charging, start or stop a charging session, schedule charging to start at a certain time and collect data on how you use the charger.
It’s a personal choice whether you want these features or not. If you get a charger without all of the smart features, it will still stop charging once your car’s battery is full. So, you may not find much need for all the bells and whistles.
Can I use a universal EV charger?
The other issue to consider is whether you can use a universal EV charger. In most cases, the answer is yes. As long as you choose a high-quality universal EV charger that’s installed to manufacturers’ specifications, it should work to charge most electric vehicles. If you have any doubts about this, it’s worth checking your car owner’s manual or contacting the car dealer for confirmation.
Plug-in or hardwired?
Most electric vehicles come with a plug-in charging option, but many of them don’t give you the power you really need. Sort of like getting a cheap, small spare tire in a new car. It will work in a pinch, but you’ll want something better for regular use. The issue here is that a very low-amp charger (12 amps) is probably fine for a PHEV, and it uses a 120v power outlet, so it’s easy for most households to just plug in and charge.
However, for something capable of charging a BEV, you’ll need a 240v power outlet, which is an added installation cost. Also, if you want anything above 40 amps, it needs to be hardwired anyway. Plug-in chargers give you the flexibility to move them, but in reality, this usually isn’t necessary. So, if you want a more powerful, hardwired solution, you’ll need a licensed installer.