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How Do EV Charging Stations Work?

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales have soared since 2016. The trend will likely continue with the rollout of the 2021 Infrastructure Law, which aims to accelerate electric vehicle (EV) adoption by implementing a stronger vehicle charging network across the country. Today, only 30% of Americans have access to home chargers for their EVs and those that do often wait several hours for a complete charge. Some residential properties aren’t even eligible to meet EV charging demands, making access to public charging options vital.

Public charging stations make EV charging simple, especially when installed near busy areas. There are currently fewer than 47,000 public charging stations in the United States, meaning the rise in EV sales will likely continue positively affecting the electric vehicle charging stations industry.

Producing more commercial EV charging stations for businesses and other commercial properties is one way to meet these growing needs and support a more sustainable future — but to do that, you must first understand how electric charging stations work so you can invest in top-quality components to protect the equipment.

What Is an EV Charging Station?
Many EV owners are familiar with “range anxiety,” or the fear that their vehicle will run out of charge before they reach the next charging station. They may use a combination of tools to predict and prevent these scenarios better. For example, EVs with advanced navigation displays might show a visual aid representing the battery’s current level with a time estimate for how much longer they can go until the battery dies. Smartphone apps can also help users find public charging stations and plan their travel routes accordingly.

Drivers typically find electric charging stations on various public lands, like gas stations, hotels, airports or near large business complexes or community gathering places. For now, most charging stations are near heavily populated cities.

A property’s owner or occupants are called the site hosts. Because the National Electrical Code (NEC) considers EV charging stations a continuous load, site hosts can’t build or install a commercial charging station until acquiring all legally necessary permits from their local building and permitting authority.

An EV charger falls into one of several categories, depending on its voltage handling power. Most public stations are type 2 chargers with currents up to 240 volts and various electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and wiring that enables faster charging than standard at-home type 1 chargers. Commercial charging stations targeting EV fleets might have an ultra-powerful type 3 charger to charge compatible EVs to near capacity in just half an hour.

How Commercial EV Charging Stations Work
Owners park near power charging stations for electric cars and plug the vehicle’s connector into the charging port. What happens next looks simple from the outside but requires a combination of carefully placed components and technology inside the charging station and the EV’s internal system.

EV CHARGING STATION COMPONENTS
Two crucial pieces of EVSE are the charger and EV feeder cabinet. The feeder cabinet houses the components that control the charger’s current. It also detects any hardware problems and safely disconnects the current flow to protect the battery, charger and EV. Because charging stations are outdoors, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has specific standards that all EV cabinet and infrastructure manufacturers must meet.

Additional components of EV charging stations include:

Enclosures: Effective full-coverage enclosures should protect all the charging station’s sensitive equipment while still creating a seamless, easy-to-use experience for the driver.

Connections: Charging stations need a continuous connection to a power source to function. The power grid is what powers charging stations for electric cars, while a network operating center helps the charging station, connectors and battery initiate and move through their processes in the correct order. Connections power the unit through different connector types, often called plugs.

Ports: Each EV requires one EVSE port to charge. Some charging stations have multiple ports per unit.

Software: EV charging software establishes the necessary connection points for the driver and the charger while compiling and displaying critical data, like a live display of costs or fault detection. The software is either web- or mobile-based, depending on the unit.

Battery: Most EV charging station batteries are lithium-ion. They rely on the power conversion system to function.

Power conversion system: The power conversion system inside the enclosure includes the power inverter and temperature regulating equipment to keep the batteries safe.

HOW COMPONENTS WORK TOGETHER TO CHARGE VEHICLES
Charging station battery currents are either direct currents (DC) or alternating currents (AC). Most type 2 chargers run on AC, while the fast-charging DC units are reserved for type 3 chargers. Larger, more demanding EVs take longer to charge, regardless of battery type. Some EV batteries have higher capacities than others — these models take longer to reach full charge and can go farther on one charge as a result.

These currents deliver electrons through the charging equipment and to the EV battery. Inside the vehicle, the battery pack, drivetrain and regenerative braking work together to convert that current into usable energy, charging the battery until full via the onboard charger (OBC). The OBC also uses an inverter that controls how fast the motor goes and determines how quickly the vehicle can accelerate and decelerate. Once the battery reaches full power — or whenever the driver ends the charging session — that energy powers the EV’s electric motor, turning the wheels.

Though the components and processes differ for hybrid EVs — electric vehicles that also support gasoline fuel as a battery backup — they are still compatible with public charging stations.

Contact APX Enclosures for Your EV Charging Enclosures
Commercial charging stations are — and will continue to be — a critical part of encouraging EV ownership. The more charging stations available, the easier and more accessible traveling in an EV is. If your team is creating and manufacturing new charging station infrastructure, APX Enclosures can help!

Charging stations will not work without an efficient enclosure to keep the critical internal elements safe from extreme temperatures, severe weather, moisture damage and vandalism. APX Enclosures is the leading manufacturer of EV charger enclosures for EVs of all charger types. Our aluminum, steel and stainless steel units are durable and come equipped with internal temperature regulation and your choice of paint or decal. All enclosures are available in various sizes to fit your project’s dimensions. We’ll even take care of all the electrical integration before we even ship the enclosure to you — you’re only responsible for the final installation and connections.

Give APX Enclosures a call today at 717-328-9399 or contact us online to learn more about our NEMA-certified enclosures and request your quote today.

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