What Good Are EVs Without Chargers?

(Rick Sander, CEO, Tuesday June 1, 2021)

One of the most overlooked parts of the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem are EV chargers, also known aselectric vehicle support equipment (EVSE) or charging infrastructure (in the case of EV fleets). People often think of the relationship between EVs and EV chargers like that between smartphones and their chargers – the charger is clearly required for the operation of the phone, but they are interchangeable and aren’t particularly “technological wonders”. While Level 1 and Level 2 chargers (120VAC input, 1.3-2.4kW output, 3-5 miles of charge/hour for Level 1; 240VAC input, 3-19kW output, 18-28 miles of charge/hour for Level 2) can largely fit this mold, they are also fairly slow in charging EVs. That is why DC fast chargers (30kW to 350kW of DC power output, and able to charge an automotive EV fully in less than 2 hour) are the future of charging. This is especially true for medium- and heavy-duty (M/HD) EVs, which can have battery capacity of 150kW to 600kW or more.

DC fast chargers are also where the innovation in charging technology becomes more and more important, and the cost of DC fast chargers reflect that. A typical IGBT DC charger (the typical charger technology today) has an efficiency of 90% to 95%; the remaining 5% to 10% of power turns into heat. For a 60kW DC fast charger, that 5%-10% represents 3kW-6kW of heat energy (note that this is greater than the power output of a Level 1 charger!). Unlike Level 1/2 AC chargers (which are the most common chargers in residential settings), DC fast chargers are typically used by fleets and in charging networks, and their cost reflects that (the retail cost of a 60kW DC fast charger can be $60,000. That is why many of the government grant programs at the state and federal level are focused on building and deploying DC fast charging networks, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. It is also why a lot of research and development is going into improving DC fast charging technology. Bottom line, EV chargers are for EVs like gas pumps for internal combustion engine vehicles – they are critical to making EVs work.

If you are looking for made in the USA high-power DC fast charging systems for those EVS, look to Rhombus Energy Solutions. Our market-leading bi-directional EV charging systems (which are designed from the start for the needs of fleet operators) are designed and built in the USA. Rhombus also excels in the design of high-power smart inverters for next-generation renewable energy and energy storage deployments. Our expertise in energy management system (EMS) software is also embedded in our VectorStat EMS controller and software which is embedded in our EV charging systems and smart inverters. We have built over a thousand V2G-capable high-power, high-reliability chargers and bi-directional smart inverters for a variety of different sizes and classes of EVs. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at news@rhombusenergy.com, or by reading our Vehicle to Grid Solution Brief.