Understanding the Charging Standards for Electric Vehicles

October 8, 2020 , in Automotive, Blog

It is enigmatic, or at least funny, that languages are developed to clarify, yet some words can be interpreted in many different ways. For example, the word standard can mean normal or typical. It can also be used to signify the acme or pinnacle as in “...he sets the standard” or the standard by which others are measured. This, of course, lends itself to clarification which necessitates additional words like sub-standard. Fortunately, for the word standard at least, there are usages where its meaning is crystal clear.

There are a large number of PCBA standards that oversee the design, building, and operation of the electronics that control and drive automobiles today. Most of these standards are regulatory and in place to assure the safety of motorists and pedestrians. There are others, however, that regulate fuel or energy sources. These are the charging standards for electric vehicles (EVs), including plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), that ensure these automobiles are able to utilize a common set of charging types. Let’s take a look at the options for electric vehicle charging and the standards that govern them.

Charging EV with a standard cable

Standard cable charging for EV

Options for Electric Vehicle Charging

Although electric vehicles were not an unusual sight around the turn of the century (that is, the 1800s to the 1900s) when EVs outsold all other vehicle types, there has never been a time when charging your EV was as easy as today. Obviously, this is a consequence of the continual improvement in capabilities, especially EV battery storage, favorable ecological impact (approximately ⅓ of fossil fuel vehicles), rapidly expanding consumer choices (predicted to almost double in 2020), and increasing sales resulting in more EVs on the road that need access to charging. Access to charging can be categorized as one of the following options:

Electric Vehicle Charging Options

  • Home charging

Most drivers with a direct outside entrance have access to an outdoor socket, which has traditionally been used for yard work tools, such as weed eaters or to provide exterior lighting, etc. Virtually all EVs can be charged through these electrical ports.

  • Public charging

Next to home charging, the greatest source for EV charging is through public charging stations. These facilities, which are open to anyone, range from single-vehicle outlets to multi-vehicle structures that may provide different types of charging. An example is shown in the figure below. Offering free access to public chargers and charging stations has been used effectively by manufacturers, such as Tesla, to incentivize owners to purchase their EVs.

Public charging stationExample of a public EV charging station (Source)

  • Private charging

There are also private charging stations where usage is restricted. These stations may be a part of a network that requires membership, such as EVgo, ChargePoint, Electrify America, and others. There are also private stations by employers that are installed for use by their employees only.

Collectively, these options provide most EV drivers with a convenient means of charging their vehicle(s), provided they are able to use one of the standard charging types discussed below.

The Charging Standards for Electric Vehicles

Operationally, electric vehicles must meet the same standards as do other automobiles. Additionally, all subsystems shared with other vehicle types, such as drivetrain, steering, and suspension, are similarly regulated. However, EVs have a much larger power requirement and the methods of supplying this energy have to also be standardized. This has been accomplished by the establishment of well-defined electric vehicle standard equipment (EVSE) for charging. This includes the EV station nozzle, connector, cabling, and vehicle charge port. And there are three types or standard rates of charging, listed below, that this EVSE will accommodate.

Rate of Charging Standards for Electric Vehicles

Rate of Charging Standards for Electric Vehicles
Note: All electrical parameters are estimates and actual values may vary slightly.

* Charging times are equated to the charge necessary such that the vehicle will have a range of approximately 249 mi (400 km).

** Will only work with Tesla EVs.

As shown in the above table, the time required to charge an EV is directly dependent on the standard charging rate and can vary greatly. In operation, these rates are regulated by the electronics and PCBAs that monitor and control current and voltage levels and provide protection against overcurrent and overvoltage. The building of these boards is regulated by IPC PCBA standards, primarily IPC-6012DA.

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  • Entire turnkey PCB manufacturing in as fast as 4 days.
  • Agile manufacturing process to quickly adapt to fast-evolving EV and AV industry.
  • Extreme temperature environment targeted manufacturing.
  • Board cleaning and protection techniques to avoid contamination and premature failure.
  • Use reliable supplier component sourcing for quality, reliability, and traceability.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during PCB assembly to ensure quality for prototyping and low volume production.

Although there are no penalties or sanctions for not utilizing these standards, automakers are self-regulated by the fact that their vehicles will not be able to utilize the charging options that are available. To aid automakers, you should ensure that your boards are developed by an experienced PCBA builder that can meet the requirements for EV charging systems, such as Tempo Automation.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on charging standards for electric vehicles or building boards to support compliance, contact us.

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