With evermore powerful EV models coming onto the market, a major selling point is reduced charging time. These new models are equipped with efficient battery packs specially designed for rapid charging. How can you use rapid charging for your EV to optimum effect? We are going to look at 5 key points you need to know before plugging into a rapid charging station.
1. Rapid EV charging stations deliver direct current (DC)
Let’s kick off with a few basics about direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC).
What do we need to know?
- The grid delivers electricity in the form of alternating current (AC).
- The battery of your EV can only store electricity in the form of direct current (DC).
- At slow to fast charging stations (AC), alternating current is converted into direct current automatically via the on-board charger. This means charging time is considerably longer.
- Rapid charging stations (DC) are equipped with a powerful AC/DC converter which significantly reduces charging time. What effectively happens is that DC current is injected directly into the battery of your EV.
However, it should be noted that the converters found inside rapid EV charging stations may be sorely tried by external factors. For instance, this has led Tesla Superchargers to be integrated into nearby buildings rather than in the charging stations themselves, thereby ensuring more consistent and efficient operation.
2. Rapid EV charging stations are systematically equipped with a charging cable
Unlike for slow or fast charging stations, you don’t need to come equipped with your own charging cable to plug into a rapid charging station. A charging cable is necessarily attached to the charging station. This means it is especially important to take good care of the on-site equipment. Make sure that the cable is meticulously put back in place once you have finished your charging session.
VouYou will find 3 types of connectors at rapid charging stations for electric vehicles:
- The European standard for rapid charging.
- Charging stations equipped with Combo CCS deliver a power rating above 50 kW.
- Becoming increasingly rare, these connectors are mainly found on Japanese cars.
- Charging stations with CHAdeMO connectors usually deliver up to 50 kW.
Type 2 (femelle)
- European standard for AC charging.
- A Type 2 cable is fitted when the charging station delivers a power rating above 22 kW, i.e. rapid charging, usually delivering 43 kW.
Good to know: only 2 older models of Renault Zoe – Q210 (2013-2016) and Q90 (2016-2020) – are able to attain 43 kW AC. When plugged into a 43 kW AC charging station, other models are therefore limited to the maximum power rating tolerated by their on-board T2 AC charger. This is why more recently deployed AC charging stations do not exceed 22 kW.
To find out more, you can consult our article on the different types of connectors used for charging your EV.
Helpful tip: With the Chargemap mobile app, you can locate charging stations according to their power rating and/or their connectors at a glance.
3. An ultra-rapid charging station “doesn’t necessarily” charge your EV any faster
When you are learning all about charging, it is quite natural to think that the more power a charging point delivers (kW), the shorter it takes to charge. However, this is not always the case, so let us focus on a few salient points.
To start with, what is the maximum power rating tolerated by your EV’s on-board DC charger? If you charge at an ultra-rapid 350 kW charging station when your EV can only take 100 kW, all that will happen is that the power delivered by the charging station will be limited to what your EV can handle. It is therefore a waste of money since you are paying for a service which your EV cannot benefit from to the full.
Other factors can reduce the power delivered to your EV by a rapid charging station:
- the temperature of the battery,
- the weather conditions – especially if you are charging your EV in a cold snap or a heatwave,
- the battery level and its general state of repair.
To find out more, we invite you to read our article on power ratings and charging times to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
4. A pre-conditioned battery achieves higher performance levels in rapid charging
Let us start by defining a few terms. What is meant by “preconditioning a battery”? It quite simply means the battery is warmed up or cooled down to reach its ideal temperature and therefore its maximum charging capacity. As pointed out previously, this feature is particularly relevant when the weather is either very hot or very cold.
Not all electric vehicles are equipped with this feature, even if it is becoming more commonplace. Among the best known models, we can quote Tesla, Renault Megane e-Tech, Kia EV6 (2022) and Hyundai IONIQ 5 (2023) among others.
So what is the ideal moment to activate battery pre-conditioning? That depends on your EV. If we take Tesla vehicles – the benchmark in the field – battery pre-conditioning is automatic and not activated by hand. This means that if you plan a charging stop via the dashboard, preconditioning will be automatically activated to reach the right temperature at the charging station. If your vehicle only offers manual activation, it should be sufficient to start pre-conditioning 30 minutes before charging.
5. Using EV rapid charging too often speeds up wear and tear on your battery
What’s the point of having an EV with a high rapid-charging capacity if you can’t profit from it every time?
Okay, but… The problem is that if you use rapid charging with your EV too often, it will wear down your battery before its time. Rapid charging boosts the temperature of battery packs to very high levels. This overheating leads to damage to the battery cells.
To preserve your battery over time, you should ideally alternate between slow/fast charging and rapid charging. A realistic scenario would be to charge at a slow chargepoint at home on an everyday basis and to opt for rapid charging points for long journeys in your EV.
You should also note that rapid charging services are generally much more expensive, in particular due to their installation costs. To cut down on your budget, it’s in your own interest not to use rapid charging on a daily basis.
To find out more on this topic, consult our article on the 6 mistakes to avoid to preserve your EV battery’s lifespan.
What about you? Do you opt for rapid charging for your EV on a regular basis? Don’t hesitate to share your own experience in the comments 👇
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