EV Charger Care and Common Misconceptions Re December 16, 2022

EV Charger Care and Common Misconceptions

Ohme EV Charger installed

EV (Electric Vehicle) chargers will soon be a regular site on all new homes and will need some EV charger care. As of June 15th, 2022, they will be required to be included in all new builds as standard. As EVs are becoming more popular with drivers, EV chargers will also be popping up on all types of properties.

There are a few brands of EV chargers currently on the market, including Wallbox, Zappi from Myenergi and Rolec, amongst others. These chargers offer home and commercial charging points, each offering the same function but various features. No EV charger is the same; they all operate differently but ultimately do the same job.

The EV charger will need general love and attention to keep it fully operational. This does not mean playing with electric wiring, which would be completely unadvisable, but rather more dusting and polishing to keep the unit free from debris and anything that could prevent reduced functionality. EV charger care is important and can prolong the life of the unit. 

How long do EV chargers last?

When purchasing an Electric Vehicle, it is almost like buying a new mobile phone, as it will need to come with a charger. It would not be implausible to say you likely have a functional phone charger still in use today that came four phones ago. This can be the same for your EV charger.

There isn’t a specific expiration date for an EV charger. Although depending, how well it is looked after will determine the unit’s longevity. As with any other product, you get what you pay for. So, the cheaper options may tend to come with more complications. These can range from limited component lifespan to easy wear and tear on the casing.

Very little can cause issues with a charger if installed correctly and maintained. However, something can and will go wrong now and again.

The most likely time to change an EV charger is when a more efficient one is developed, or a new type of charger is introduced. There are two types of connections, type 1 and type 2 chargers. Soon enough, there will be a new and improved type of connection where adapters may not be so suitable, resulting in an essential upgrade. When researching an EV charger’s life expectancy, you may see many dates, charging figures and stats. However, for the average EV driver, your charger will last, and the chances are you will be upgrading your vehicle or the charger yourself before replacing it due to failure.

There are several chargers to choose from, all being unique. Chargers come in both tethered and untethered models. Tethered units have a fixed cable, usually 5m long, whereas untethered units do not have a fitted cable where the length can vary up to 10m. Instead, they are portable cables that plug into the charger and the vehicle and can be used at public charge points. All will have varying expiration dates and result from how much it is cared for. It is wise to research each charger to see which is best suited to your needs, making it more efficient and enduring.

How can you care for an EV charger?

A simple tip to keep an EV charger clean is to give it a once-over while the vehicle gets washed at home. You can even wash them during charging. If you don’t personally clean your car, then washing the unit twice a month will keep it clean and free from debris. All EV chargers are watertight, so there is no fear of damaging the unit or getting an electric shock, although do not pressure wash it or open the cover and douse it with blasts of soap and water. This is unadvisable and a bad idea.

If the components need cleaning, then it is advised that a professional is called in as they will have the correct equipment and experience to complete the task safely. This kind of task will not be required regularly, but it is something to keep in mind to prolong the unit’s longevity.

Common issues

Unfortunately, as EV Charging is still relatively new, 1st generation models can be somewhat problematic, as you may expect. L1 and L2 units that use AC (Alternative Current) have been known to have a life expectancy of 5 to 10 years, but this is only an expectancy and could easily last longer or, in some cases, shorter. L3 charging uses DC (Direct Current), which can have intense charging performance.

L1 charging is ideal for those who do not drain a full battery charge daily and only require a top up at home or work. These chargers can cause issues if you require your vehicle to be charged quickly.

 L2 chargers are typically what is found in residential and commercial settings. These are for drivers that use their car daily for commuting, dropping the kids off at school and joyriding around the countryside. It offers a higher charging speed than the L1, but some only come as fast charging, so it could catch you out when purchasing one.

L3 Charging is the fastest charger, and it can charge an EV at 3 to 20 miles of range per minute. This is where intense charging issues can occur and should not be used constantly, as the EV battery will start to decrease in performance at a speedier rate.

Future charging models will not be without the possibility of failure, but typically new developments will have increased reliability and functionality and theoretically be more efficient than their predecessors.

Overheating

RCD (Residual Current Devices) have been known to burn out from overheating and causing the power to cut out. This is often due to a fault in the current sense coil. This is a transformer that deals with the currents in and out of the charger.

Sometimes when an EV is charging, it doesn’t always charge with a constant and equal flow of energy. An example is when a charger is set to function at certain times for energy saving purposes. What can happen is that the charger is hit with spikes of energy, which can cause an energy imbalance, and the circuit breaker can overheat and trigger the failsafe mechanism. This can then result in a burnt-out component and a required replacement.

This happens because during the manufacturing stage, some connectors inside the RCD may not have a flat or clean connection which can then concentrate the energy into a smaller area causing intense heat. As these types of parts are mass produced, this will likely happen from time to time.  

Fortunately, due to the safety features required on all units, this issue should not cause severe malfunctions and danger to the property, car, or life. Instead, they have fail-safes including grounding or built-in earthing wires to ensure no electricity can escape and cause harm.

Build Quality

Build quality can be a defining element of how long an EV charger will last. Depending on the cost of the unit will often determine its quality. However, this is not always the case as many manufacturers can provide quality at a fair price as they continuously use sustainable methods during manufacturing.

The cheaper units on the market can often come with a lower quality casing. Although sturdy, watertight and robust, they tend to scratch and develop cracks easier than higher quality casings, but with general care, this shouldn’t be a problem for most users.  

Cable damage

A single-phase 5-pin SAE J1772, which is a standard cable, is intended to last over 10k full charges or approximately 27 years of one charge per day if you do the math. This is much the same for all cables, so earlier failure will likely come down to bad luck or general care.

Damaged cables from malfunction are not all that common, although they are not designed for a heavy hand. These issues range from splits in the cable to belly button fluff inside the charging ports. With careful removal of the debris, the cable should be working efficiently once more.

Splits in the cables can often be general wear and tear and are mainly found in untethered cables. A key reason can be put down to their care, so if they are treated well, folded correctly and not used by the kids as a skipping rope, then the cable should easily exceed eight years.

It is also wise to ensure you put the cable back in its holster or in a safe place. The last thing you want to do is run over it or lose it to the dog up the garden.

Common misconceptions

Often the charging unit is the first point of blame for a car failing to charge as effectively as it should. This is often down to the EV battery itself. An EV battery can last up to 20 years. Still, with sustained use and charging, manufacturers suggest that a noticeable decrease will be apparent much sooner and could require replacing around 8-10 years. Batteries can cost between £0 and £20k depending on the purchase warranty and benefits. The positive from this is that by the time eight years comes around, battery development will have drastically improved, and prices will likely be much reduced.

Fast and Intense Charging

Intense charging theoretically will enhance an EVs battery’s decline in functionality, with intense charging causing a battery to struggle to hold a strong charge after an average of 500 charging cycles. This does not mean that after 500 chargers, your car’s battery will start running out of juice quickly. Although you will likely notice it running out a bit sooner. Intense charging isn’t generally carried out on your average EV daily.

Fast charging is ideal for charging at home, work and on the road. There is no real threat of damaging the EV battery, but like most things, natural depreciation will take effect over time.

Constant Charging

Keeping an EV charger plugged into a vehicle consistently has no negative impact and will not cause damage to either charger or vehicle. EV chargers will stabilise their charge to fit in with the requirement and become idle when the car is fully charged. Many Chargers will have apps that will notify you when it is fully charged, and from the app, you will be able to control all aspects of the charge itself, providing complete control over the charging process.

Charging Speeds

Charging speeds can also be confusing and portray a charger not working effectively. A misconception is that a 22kW charger will charge a vehicle at 22kW. This is incorrect. Think of it in terms of an HD-ready TV, although it is HD ready doesn’t mean it will perform at HD for all programs. This is the same for EV chargers, as the Renault ZOE is one of the few that can charge at 22kW. Most still operate a charge at 3kW to 11kw. The vehicle can still be charged via a 22kW unit; However, it will only be able to charge at its manufacturer limit. So, if you are using a 22kw unit and think that the charger is not working correctly, it is most likely to be the charging limit of the vehicle itself.

Public Charging stations

There are also approximately 15 public charging station brands in the U.K today, with Tesla, Pod Point, and InstaVolt, to name just a few.

All cars can be charged at any public charging station. Until recently, Tesla only reserved the right for Tesla owners to use their charging stations, such an Elon Musk move, but now any EV can charge at any public charging station, so less range anxiety for all.

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