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Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Updated: Jan 16


electric vehicle charging infrastructure

As the clean energy movement gains steam, more homes and businesses are installing solar energy systems and driving electric vehicles (EVs). Global electric car sales rose 31% in 2023, and more than a million EVs were sold in the U.S. last year.


General Motors pledged not to sell only electric vehicles by 2035. In California, Governor Newsom announced that only zero-emissions cars and passenger trucks will be sold by 2035.


The majority of electric vehicle owners charge at home, and 40% own solar systems, according to SolarEdge. The rise of electric car ownership creates an opportunity for solar companies to install the residential and commercial EV charging stations needed to make the shift. Likewise, solar energy can help power these vehicles instead of relying on fossil fuels from gas stations.


What Is EV Charging Station Infrastructure?

There are different types of charging equipment for electric vehicles, known as electric vehicle chargers or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). The charging infrastructure industry created a common standard known as the Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) protocol between EV charging stations and a central management system to facilitate communication between different vendors.


It is helpful for solar installers wishing to install electric vehicle chargers to get familiar with the different types of chargers available. Many solar companies also install EV chargers, especially Level II EVSE.


Level I EV Chargers

Most electric vehicles are compatible a Level I charger. Although this is the most economical charging option for most households and businesses, it is also the slowest. Level I chargers use 120-volt power and therefore do not require any electrical system upgrades.


Unfortunately, it only charges a car about 2 – 5 miles of driving range per hour, and a full charge can take 24 hours. Thus, this option is impractical for some due to long charging times but may be sufficient for many commuters. Both Level I and Level II charges use a J1772 port.


Level II EV Charging Stations

This option allows for 10 – 20 miles of charging per hour and uses 240-volts of power. Most EVSE ports at public charging stations are Level II, with a smaller amount of Level III chargers. Level II chargers come in various amperages, typically ranging from 12 amps to 80 amps and typically ranging from 3 – 20 kilowatts of power. Some Level II wireless EV chargers do not require connecting the electric car to the charger with a cable. These are expected to increase in prevalence with technological advances.


Numerous manufacturers make these devices, but they require 240-volts running from the breaker panel to the device. Some household appliances also use 240-volts, like many electric ovens or water heaters.


Level III EV Chargers or DC Fast Chargers

Also known as DC Fast Chargers or DCFC, these devices are primarily used in commercial and industrial applications. Unfortunately, they are prohibitively expensive in many applications because they require specialized equipment. DC fast charging can provide an 80% charge in 30 minutes, making them ideal for charging on long trips.


Not all Level III chargers are compatible with all vehicles, and these devices use either a CHAdeMO, CCS, or Tesla port, and they don’t use the J1772 port found on Level I and Level II chargers.


Electric Vehicle Range

One critical aspect of EV ownership is the driving range. This depends on the capacity of the EV battery and the efficiency of the vehicle. Because EV chargers are not as widespread at gas stations and they take longer to recharge than refuel, range anxiety can be a big issue for EV drivers.


The EPA rates the range of various vehicles, which spans from 114 miles for the Mini Electric Cooper to 516 miles of range for the Lucid Air. Likewise, the efficiency and battery capacity of different vehicles varies. For example, the 2024 Tesla Model S battery capacity is 100-kilowatt hours, compared to a 32.6-kilowatt-hour battery in the Mini Cooper.


There are also a variety of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) on the market. These enable drivers to run in electric mode with power from the battery for a particular range. Then when the battery is depleted, the car automatically switches to use gasoline in an internal combustion engine. As of 2021, there were 32 different plug-in hybrid vehicles on the market in the United States.


EV Charging Station Infrastructure

Currently, the charging infrastructure is owned and operated by a variety of public and private entities. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, it is critical to have fast and convenient charging infrastructure in place as drivers transition away from the internal combustion engine. Although most electric vehicle owners like home EV charging, this can be difficult for apartment and condo dwellers. Likewise, it is essential to have vehicle charging options away from home, in shopping centers, parking lots, and workplaces.


Some employers offer charging opportunities to employees to encourage electric vehicle ownership. Often, there are more EV chargers in high-density areas, available to use when people wish to access them. In rural areas, drivers typically have fewer chargers available, adding to vehicle range issues.


What Types of Plugs are There are EV Charging Stations?

There are several types of plugs used for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and different manufacturers and regions may adopt different standards. Two of the most widely used plug standards are:


CCS (Combined Charging System)

CCS is a standard for DC fast charging. It has a two-part connector with an additional two pins for high-voltage DC charging. CCS is commonly used by many automakers in North America and Europe.


Tesla Supercharger Connector - North American Charging Standard

Tesla has its proprietary charging connector used exclusively for Tesla vehicles and is known as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). While Tesla Superchargers are designed for fast-charging Tesla vehicles, Tesla has also included an adapter that allows some Tesla vehicles to use CHAdeMO and CCS charging stations.


NACS vs. CCS

There two EV charging plugs dominate the electric car industry.


CCS

  • Type: CCS is a standardized DC fast charging system widely adopted in North America and Europe.

  • Connector: The CCS connector combines the traditional J1772 connector (for AC charging) with additional DC pins, allowing for both AC and DC charging. It has two connectors: Type 1 (mainly in North America) and Type 2 (mainly in Europe).

  • Compatibility: CCS is used by various electric vehicle manufacturers, promoting interoperability.

Tesla Charging Plug - NACS:

  • Type: Tesla uses a proprietary charging system.

  • Connector: Tesla vehicles come with a unique charging connector specifically designed for Tesla Supercharger stations. Tesla's connector is different from the standardized CCS connector used by many other manufacturers.

  • Compatibility: Tesla Superchargers are designed exclusively for Tesla vehicles, and Tesla cars are not compatible with standard CCS or CHAdeMO chargers without an adapter. However, some automakers plan to start using NACS plugs on EVs soon.


The Future Of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The most robust charging infrastructure exists in California, where the government has invested over $2 billion over the last decade in electric vehicle incentive programs, including equality in the distribution of chargers. Yet, a more robust charging infrastructure is needed to meet the growing demand for charging throughout the United States. Also, studies have shown that chargers aren’t evenly distributed in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, raising equality concerns.


The Biden administration has pledged to install 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030, and the Infrastructure Law is allocating $7.5 billion for EV chargers, yet many hurdles exist for implementing this plan. One of the biggest hurdles is zoning and permitting requirements, which can delay EV charging projects.


In addition, seven automakers announced they will begin constructing a high-speed EV charging network. The first charging stations are supposed to begin operation in 2024, and include both CCS and NACS charging capabilities.


How Can Solar Installers Start Installing EV Charging Stations?

Because the electric vehicle industry requires a scaling up of infrastructure, it presents a prime opportunity for solar installation companies to grow their businesses and diversify their service offering. In fact, installing electric vehicle chargers requires similar knowledge of electricity and should be completed by a certified electrician. Many solar companies already have licensed electricians on staff and can easily expand their services.


Likewise, solar panels and electric vehicle chargers go together like wine and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. And, many solar shoppers also own or plan to own an electric vehicle in the near future. As a result, some will be interested in installing an electric vehicle charger now in preparation.


In many cases, it is also a good idea to oversize the solar system in anticipation of the additional load of electric vehicle charging. Estimating the extra energy use can be a bit tricky and depends on how much they drive the electric car, its efficiency, and where they charge. All of these scenarios present an opportunity to increase sales while offering more value to customers.


Building the Electric Vehicle Charging Network

As the U.S. gradually electrifies the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work is needed to create the EV charging infrastructure necessary to power these fleets. In addition, it creates a valuable opportunity for solar installation companies to expand service offerings to provide more renewable energy options to customers.


GreenLancer is dedicated to accelerating the clean energy movement. We specialize in EV charging infrastructure design, engineering, and permitting. Sign up here or complete the form below for more information on our EV charging station plan sets, electrical diagrams, and engineering reviews.





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