Direct current fast charging stations are used to charge electric vehicles (EVs), and lately, they’ve been spawning all around the US following the hype surrounding electric vehicles. There are several levels of DC fast charging stations, each with different levels of power for different vehicles.
DC Fast Charging currently offers the fastest charging capacity of all charging stations, but should you use it? More importantly, can your vehicle’s battery receive this much power? It can be worth your while, depending on your vehicle and how you use it in your everyday life.
In this article, we’ll explain what DC fast charging is, how it differs from other levels of power, and why you should consider them to power your electric vehicle
What Is DC Fast Charging?
When it comes to EV charging stations, there are three levels of power. The first level is the standard wall plug you can find at home. It delivers 120V, and you can expect to get between two and five miles worth of charging power every hour. The second level delivers twice the amount of power with 240V, which offers 40 to 65 miles for every hour it’s plugged in. DC Fast Charge is the third and most potent level of charge for EVs. It delivers 480V, which can fill 80% of most car batteries in 30 to 40 minutes.
In the US, you can find three types of DC Fast Charging stations: CCS Combo, CHAdeMO, and Tesla Superchargers. Tesla’s technology is widely available in the US, with 35,000+ Superchargers across the nation. CCS is mainly used for several brands, including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Mazda electric vehicles. CHAdeMO supports Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Citroën, and Kia vehicles.
The power delivered by each charging system is similar. In fact, it’s even possible to charge a Tesla Model S with CCS or CHAdeMO by using an adapter. The difference between them is that Tesla is American, CCS is German, and CHAdeMO is Japanese.
How Does DC Differ From AC Charging?
AC stands for alternating current, and DC stands for direct current. AC is the standard electricity you use in your home to charge your devices or use everyday objects. The current flow alternates between positive and negative due to alternators powering outlets.
Alternators create electricity with a magnetic field, so it creates positive and negative power using polarity. This system allows electricity providers to carry the current over long distances, but it can’t deliver as much power as direct current.
DC power, on the other hand, moves in a straight line. It can be produced by solar cells, batteries, or modified alternators. AC power can be converted into DC power with transformers. DC power isn’t reserved for electric vehicles, as it can power some household utilities like your fridge or your washing machine. It’s more consistent than AC, and it delivers a higher voltage. However, DC power is more expensive to produce than AC power because it requires transforming AC into DC in most cases, and it can’t travel as far.
Why You Should Favor DC Fast Charging Stations
When you resort to a DC fast charging station, your car receives power constantly at a higher voltage. These charging stations can fill your battery to 80% in around 40 minutes. It’s perfect for prolonging your car’s battery life expectancy, as experts recommend to charge batteries at 80% of their capacity. DC fast charging is more convenient and proves vital if you must drive for long distances without the opportunity to charge along the way.
However, DC fast charging may not be compatible with your electric vehicle since it delivers up to 350kW, and not every car battery can handle this much power. So, before plugging into such charging stations, it’s essential to know what your vehicle’s battery input is and if you can use DC fast charging to power it. Furthermore, these stations deliver more power at a faster rate, so naturally, they’re more expensive to use.
How To Find a Charging Station?
A few years back, finding a charging station was like prospecting gold in the river. Thankfully, nowadays, it’s easier than ever to find a charging station near you. The leading app to find a charging station is, obviously, Google Maps, with new stations added daily.
If you have a membership to an EV charging network, you likely already have an app on your phone to find compatible stations around you. The US Department of Energy (DOE) also has a locator service you can use to find charging spots. DOE’s service is also helpful if you have a vehicle using alternative fuel like Bio-Diesel.
DC Fast Charging – The Future of EVs?
DC fast charging comes with a lot of perks for EV users; faster charging means drivers can get back on the road faster. It’s vital if you drive a vehicle with a large battery and don’t want to spend hours waiting at the station. However, the technology is still expensive and developing. New stations are implemented throughout the country, but it’s still not as common as level-two charging stations.
If you own an EV intended to be used with this technology, like a Tesla, then it’s in your interest to resort almost exclusively to DC Fast Charging, but for smaller EVs or hybrids, it’ll depend on their capacities.