Range and battery: What should I know about charging an electric car if I don’t know anything about it?

You can’t go wrong charging an electric car battery, can you?

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Autonomy and batteryWhat should I know about charging an electric car if I don’t know anything about it?

Electromobility is on the rise, but uncertainties about charging are a major obstacle to buying an electric car, for example, for our reader. What should he know as a neophyte?

20 minute reader question

Maybe I’ll buy an electric car. Do I really need a “real” charging station at home, and as a neophyte, what should I know about charging on long trips?

Reply from Markus Peter from UPSA*

Unlike semi-electric plug-in hybrids, which can sometimes be powered from household outlets, a battery-powered all-electric car should only be charged in a Wallbox at home or work. With a standard Swiss 230 V domestic socket, the continuous current is limited to 8 A. These sockets do not support the maximum possible current of 10 A. Thus, the charging power is limited to 1.8 kW, so a recharge guarantees a 100 km track takes approximately 12 hours.

The car manufacturer or garage usually offers Wallboxes suitable for the vehicle itself, but energy providers and many independent service providers also offer them. These Wallboxes are easier to assemble than charging stations used in public spaces and are sometimes very efficient and therefore much cheaper. It is not recommended to connect your Wallbox yourself, as it is essential to previously check the electrical installation, correctly dimension and secure it.

An all-battery electric car should only be charged in a Wallbox at home or work.

Markus Peter, UPSA

Basic rules for choosing the right Wallbox: At home, at night, an 11 kW Wallbox provides enough power. If you only take shorter trips and have enough time to recharge, you might also consider a simpler 3.7W Wallbox. In the semi-public sector, ie when the downtime is shorter, for example when shopping or at work, 22 kW AC charging stations are often used. But beware, not all electric cars are equipped with such powerful internal chargers and therefore they “only” charge from 11 kW to a 22 kW Wallbox. To install the Wallbox plus, it is necessary to count between 1500 and 3000 francs.

If you are a tenant or co-owner, you need the agreement of the lessor or co-owners. As far as collective garages are concerned, it is best to consider a basic installation for all locations. There are, for example, models where all co-owners pay first for the basic installation – for example, for a power distributor – and each one buys or rents their own Wallbox for their own space from that distributor, if necessary.

When traveling, you can refuel “normally” with alternating current (AC) or on fast direct current (DC) chargers. When charging at an AC charging station, the current first passes through the car’s internal charger and is converted to direct current before charging the battery. Since during fast DC charging, power flows almost directly to the battery and no conversion is required, significantly higher powers of over 100 kW are possible. However, the maximum charging power in the case of fast charging is not available during the entire charging time, which will lead to overheating and premature aging of the battery. At the Wallbox at home, electricity costs around four francs per 100 km, as long as it is not produced using a photovoltaic installation. Depending on the provider, charging speed and circumstances (roaming abroad!), a full battery can cost more than a full tank of gas.

When traveling, you can refuel “normally” with alternating current (AC) or on fast direct current (DC) chargers.

Markus Peter, UPSA

This is certainly the most important information for a neophyte. Your mechanic will be happy to provide you with more information on electromobility and other alternative drives as a competent mobility consultant.

Email your questions to autortgeber@20minuten.ch. The most interesting current questions, as well as their answers, will be published weekly in the “20 Minutes” Lifestyle section.

*The Swiss Professional Automobile Union (UPSA) is the association of Swiss mechanics. 4,000 companies employing 39,000 people (including 9,000 young people in initial and continuing education) ensure that we move safely, reliably and energy-efficiently. The UPSA legal department and UPSA team of experts, including Markus Aegerter (trade and services), Olivier Maeder (training) and Markus Peter (technical and environment), ensure that everything is clear.

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