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Everything to Know About AC Charging Stations

Last updated: March 3rd, 2023 | Infrastructure

DC chargers are flashy and exciting. Those large cabinets sitting at gas stations or in parking lots garner a lot of attention. That’s because they charge fast and charge a premium price for it. Drivers can roll up, plug in, and be on their way quickly; there’s very little dwell time needed with DC charging. That’s not the case with AC charging stations.

However, AC chargers are the unsung workhorses of the EV charging world. They’re common at daily-use and destination locations: shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, workplaces, and multi-family residences. These are places where drivers are expected to spend larger amounts of time, allowing the AC charging station to charge waiting vehicles. Most importantly, AC chargers are much less expensive. For the price of a single DC charger, a location can typically install 10x that many AC stations. 

How do AC chargers charge vehicles?

Power grids deliver AC power. Vehicle batteries, however, require DC power. This is a non-issue when the driver plugs into a DC charger (and is part of why those chargers can be so fast). With an AC charger, though, the vehicle’s internal rectifier needs to convert the incoming AC power to DC power. After that, it can be channeled into the battery for charging.

Charging Times

Charging times vary depending on the vehicle and the charger. AC chargers charge more slowly, as stated above, because the vehicle has to pick up the work of converting the AC charge to DC. The size of the car’s battery also helps determine how fast it’ll go from 20% to 80% (although the flow of power is technically not any faster). 

What do you need in an EV charger?

An AC charger should be able to meet the specific needs of your business. That means you have wall and pedestal mount options depending on available space. Its amperage won’t exceed what’s available from your power panel. The management software that runs it should be both robust and reliable. Additionally, stations should be quality certified by the appropriate local certifying body (UL/CE certification, for example). 

What are the specs for an AC charger?

Obviously, every charger is a little different. Some connect to cloud networks, and some don’t. Some require more amps, and some require fewer. Here are the specs for the Noodoe EV AC30P AC charger:

  • Output Power: Up to 7 kW
  • Input Power: 1-phase, 3-wire, 200~240 Vac, 32 A maximum
  • Network Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi
  • Vehicle Connector: SAE J1772
  • Certifications: UL, cUL, FCC

For amps, this means that you’ll want to check the amps available for chargers. Divide that number by 32, and you’ll know how many chargers can be installed on your site. That said, Noodoe EV OS (our powerhouse of a cloud-based charger management system) does have a way to intelligently balance charger load when the panel capacity cannot meet the charging demands. 

What are UL, CE, and OCPP certification?

These are certifications given by authorized parties to consumer goods that have been labeled safe for sale and usage. 

UL certification comes from Underwriters Laboratories, a company founded at the end of the 19th century. It does safety testing for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). UL certification covers products, personnel, facilities, and processes. This certification is specifically for the United States and important for products sold and used there.

CE certification, on the other hand, is specific to the European Union. It’s required for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). It’s particularly important for products created outside the EEA but sold within it (such as practically all electronics). While the certification is for the EU, it’s used in other countries as a mark of conformity.

OCPP is the Open Charge Point Protocol. It’s an open-source standard for EV charging station hardware and software. If a station is OCPP-compliant, that station can run any OCPP-compliant software. Noodoe EV charging stations and Noodoe EV OS are both OCPP-compliant, making them good choices for installation and use if a manager is looking for futureproof flexibility.

Charger Management System

Every smart charger needs a good management system to run it. That system should be able to meet all of your business needs. That means offering everything from reports to system recovery to extended features for those special requirements. Noodoe EV OS has all of this and more. Our engineers have focused especially on making it easy to use, automating functions (like fund transfers and system diagnostics) through the cloud operating system that doesn’t require consistent monitoring. 

The Bottom Line

As exciting as DC charging stations are, AC stations have an important place in the EV charging eco system. EV drivers know that each 30 minute session at an AC charger – a quick grocery run, picking up coffee, etc. – adds up in the long run. They keep cars running and divers happy.

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