CCS Charger, Everything You Want to Know About DC Fast Charging

Rapid charging is one of the key pieces of technology that elevates an EV from fun novelty to legitimately useful vehicle you just roll up plug in swipe a credit card or dental an app and your bats get Juiced up and anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple hours. Unfortunately, Rapid Chargers are not as simple as gas pumps not all Chargers are created equal, not all cars charged the same way and some Chargers are almost completely useless. If you want to know what a DC rapid charger is how to find one how to activate one how much it’ll cost how long it’ll take your car to charge or why so many of them are best to avoid.


What is the DC fast charging?

Let’s focused on non-teslas in the North American Market other regions will be different and Tesla’s got their own supercharger Network which makes sense. Let me just say via demonstration that rapid charging isn’t difficult I just plug in with this massively thick cable enter in my credit card and boom the average electrical supply of 125 average. American Homes is now being dumped into my car all at once what is DC fast charging.

First of all terminology, AC is alternating current so-called because the flow of electrons continually alternates back and forth the power grid operates on alternating current DC is direct current the electron flow in One Direction batteries operate on direct current this new driver right here is what most people refer to as a charger but it’s actually called an EVSE and it’s a little more than a fancy extension cord with some switches in a box and a special plug on one end. This connector is what you plug into your car for AC charging because the power that comes out of this connector is alternating current straight from the grid. The actual charger is a box inside the car somewhere like this unit out of a Chevy Volt and this is what takes the alternate and current from the grid rectifies it into direct current and boosts it to meet the battery voltage to charge the battery in the car that’s what AC charging is and by the way this connector is called the j1772 port, which is possibly the least catchy name of all time you could also refer to it, as type 1 or J or thingamabob just below the J Port are two massive pins these two pins are not a connector on their own but rather combined with the j1772 port above them to create the CCS connector short for Combined charging standard because you know they’re combined with the J Port above them the CCS connector is for DC charging side, note there are two other types of DC connectors in North America.

There’s CHAdeMO but it was only ever used on these cars and once the Nissan Leaf ends production in a couple of years. There will be no more CHAdaMO cars left, there’s also Tesla’s connector used only on Tesla vehicles and before you ask, no you cannot charge your CCS car at a Tesla Supercharger. They’ve said they’re going to open it up but they haven’t done it yet and also you can charge a Tesla at a CCS station provided you have the adapter, but aside from Tesla’s connector and CHAdeMO which is being phased out CCS is the standard the car’s onboard charger can only handle. So, much power those two massive pins provide a direct connection to the car’s battery bypassing the car’s onboard charger allowing a much larger much higher power external charger like the one in this cabinet right here to charge the car’s battery at speeds much higher than the onboard charger is capable of delivering in this case 150 kilowatts. That’s all DC rapid charging is it’s a charger outside the car that connects to the car’s battery through those two big pins on the CCS connector and dumps electrons into your car’s battery like some sort of Sparky fire hose.


Where can you find DC Fast Charging?

How long will it take my car to charge it depends not all cars charge the same way and not all Chargers charge the same way let’s talk about the Chargers first. First, some units a watt is a unit of electrical power a kilowatt is one thousand Watts battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours. For example, if you have a 20 kilowatt hour battery that means that your battery can deliver on average 20 kilowatts for an hour technically any charger that bypasses the car’s on-board charger is a DC charger and any charger that can output 24 kilowatts or more is considered a rapid charger however 24 kilowatts is anything but rapid for example it would take my Pulstar here over two hours to charge to 80 percent at this 24 kilowatt station and a Hummer EV it would take that eight hours to charge to 80 percent in other words 24 kilowatt stations are useless unless you have a vehicle with a tiny battery which is exactly what this one’s for electric motorcycles thankfully there are very few 24 kilowatt Chargers in existence and the CCS standard allows for all the way up to 500 kilowatts so how do you know how fast any given charger is well sometimes it says right on the box that one says 150 kilowatts this one says 350. This charger says on the screen it’ll do 125 kilowatts but I’m actually getting 80 out of it and unplugs here it says 62 and a half why is that we’ll talk about that later and if the speed isn’t permanently displayed on the charger well whoever put up that charger should be ashamed.

That’s very important information to be hiding away but you can still find out pretty easily there’s a website and an app called plug share you can look up any charger on plug share like this EVGO unit here and it’ll tell you the speed that charger is capable of for instance this squatty little dumpster is only capable of 50 kilowatts which is probably one. No one ever uses it, so just plug into the fast charger available then right.

Now we need to talk about the second part of the equation. How fast can your car charge there’s two parts to this there’s a charging Peak the highest rate at which your car can charge and then there’s the charging curve with all EVS as the state of charge increases the charging rate decreases the crossover graph between those two figures is called the charging curve while it’s easy to look at the peak charging number that number doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, a Tesla Model 3 charges at a peak rate of 250 kilowatts, while a Kia EV6 charges as a peak rate of 230 kilowatts, so which one charges up faster the EV6 and not by a small margin either the 10 to 80 percent charge time of a model 3 is 27 minutes an EV6 18 minutes and the two cars have a nearly identical size of battery pack.

Because the model 3 Can Only hold that peak rate of 250 kilowatts for a short amount of time, before it starts derating the EV6 can hold its peak rate well beyond 50 state of charge the charging curve is important that comparing graphs is tedious and confusing that’s why the often quoted number is how long it takes your car to charge from 10 to 80 percent. For some examples here’s the smattering of EVS they’re Peak charging speeds and their 10 to 80 charge times. Why 10 to 80 as I mentioned earlier as state of charge increases charge rate decreases there’s a lot of variance here but generally 80 percent state of charge is about the point where charging slows down, so, much that you’re just wasting time and blocking a charger by continuing to charge my pole star for instance charges from 10 to 80 in just a bit over 30 minutes, but, to get from 80 to 100 percent that takes over an hour generally, it’s recommended once you hit 80 unplug and move on to the next Charger unless you absolutely need that extra 10 or 20 percent these. Electrifying America Chargers even recommend unplugging at 80% and the reason it’s 10 to 80 percent well unless your name is Kyle O’Connor you’re probably not going to be showing up to a charger completely dead so 10 to 80 percent gives you a good real world idea of how long you’re going to be spending at chargers. So a higher power car will charge your car faster but your car can only charge so fast if you have a Kia Niro that can only rapid charge at 100 kilowatts don’t use the 350 kilowatt charger.

If there are slower power options on site this EVGO station for instance has 200 kilowatt Chargers and a shared 350 kilowatt charger, If your car can only accept 100 kilowatts or less use one of those instead of that one. If you have the option how do you find these chargers here’s a recommendation I already mentioned plug share in the plug share app or website you can view all the chargers around you on a map and you can filter on any number of things type of connector the network the speed anything you want to. For example, let’s look in my area for CCS rapid Chargers there’s quite a few of them but remember not all chargers are created equal let’s cut all the 50 kilowatt chargers quite a bit fewer options now. That’s why it’s so important to know about charger speed 50 kilowatt chargers aren’t useless they’re good for cars with small batteries or for placing outside of businesses you’ll spend a lot of time at like a mall or a grocery store, but for charging as quickly as possible to get, where you’re going in the shortest time possible. Which I’d argue is most of the time they’re pretty useless which means the worst place for a 50 kilowatt charger is a gas station, right off the interstate no one’s going to use this thing it doesn’t work anyway but no one would use it, if it did I mean this one’s at a bank so it’s not really much better my car would take over an hour to charge to 80 at one of these in a larger battery.

Vehicle like a rivian would take over two hours now let me just pop in and refinance my house real quick that makes sense who decided to put this here given this big jumble of information you might think planning a road trip in an EV would be a big hassle but actually no in lots of EVS like my pole star there’s built-in route planning mine’s through Google Maps so I just enter in my destination for instance Salt Lake City Utah hit add charging stops and it plans my entire route for me picking the fastest Chargers along the way so that I get to my destination in the shortest time possible it even tells me how long to charge at each stop to arrive at the next charger with 10 state of charge, so I don’t waste time charging. Unnecessarily, Also available as an app say same concept you tell it what car you’re driving you tell it where you’re starting you’re tripping ending your trip and it gives you the whole route planned out with optimal, charging speeds telling you how long to charge at each charger Etc this is also a really good tool for Cross Shopping EVS.

What kind of charger is suitable for my car?

If you plan to do a lot of road tripping for instance here’s St Louis to Salt Lake City and my pole star now, here’s the same trip in the Kia EV6 the EV6 is much more efficient and charges a lot faster and that makes a big difference now. Here’s the same trip in a bolt maybe don’t get a bolt if you plan to do a lot of road tripping. Unless you have a lot of patience, how do you activate a charger all chargers should have credit card readers but unfortunately a lot of them like this, charge Point Unit don’t with this charge Point Unit you either have to order a charge point card through the mail or set up the app on your phone.

Set up the account enter in your credit card information load up a balance and then once all that’s done then you can tap your phone to the screen and it starts right up, but it shouldn’t have to do any of that I should be able to just stick my credit card reader in it pay it and then have it start up that way look even The Squatty little dumpster has a credit card reader it doesn’t work but it has one even this 6 kilowatt AC charger has to be activated with the app and the best part this one’s free. so unfortunately way too many of these chargers require an app and no I don’t like it either at least the chargepoint app works on several different networks. So that’s a little bit of a bonus I guess how much does it cost. This one’s kind of all over the place most chargers charged by the kilowatt hour but some charge by the minute EVGO charges a three dollar starting fee and then charges by the minute in some states they don’t allow reselling of power at all.

So all of the chargers in those States charge by the minute the cheapest rapid charger. I’ve seen is 25 cents a kilowatt hour and the most expensive one I’ve seen is 60 cents per minute for comparison’s sake, my home charging rate is eight cents a kilowatt hour which works out to about three cents a mile in my car. However, it’s still early days and lots of free DC rapid Chargers can still be found. For example, these two chargers in the parking lot of Saint Paul Chevrolet in Herculaneum Missouri they’re 120 kilowatts and they don’t cost a dime assuming it’s during business hours and the gates are open otherwise you can’t get to them. For example, last year I took a road trip from Chicago to Florida in a Hyundai ionic 5 with Alec from technology connections and those stops. We stopped at Electrify America each time averaged 25 dollars per session but that’s at the base rate. Electrify America also has a monthly membership program that costs 4 dollars a month and gives you access to a reduced rate. If you would have that membership then each stop would have averaged about 17 so that membership pays for itself in one charge.

But also, we passed through several States along the way that don’t allow reselling of power and in those States the chargers charged by the minute and the average stop in those States was 5 dollars, because the ionic 5 charges so quickly like I said is all over the place. What to look out for this is the rather unfortunate thing about the current state of Rapid Chargers, they’re not very reliable you might think what is there to look out for plug it in done work must be broken right a lot of the times. If a charge is broken it’ll say unavailable or it’ll give you a nice red error message if you want to see a broken charger in person.

Go to your nearest Electrify America they’ll probably have a few, but more often than not these chargers fail in more subtle nuanced ways like limiting charging power and not telling you about it I know that at low states of charge. My Pulsar should be accepting 150 kilowatts or somewhere near there but numerous times I’ve plugged into an Electrify America station and been giving a reduced charging speed of 90 40 or even 12 kilowatts with no warning or error.

I just have to be watching the number and know that it’s wrong in fact the first Electrify America station that I recorded for this blog reduced power to 40 kilowatts it’s not a rare occurrence what I’m saying is don’t just plug it into your car and then walk away plug it in make sure the charger ramps up to the proper power that you would expect then you can walk away. Unfortunately this requires you to have a basic understanding of your car’s charging curve for instance right now I’m at 55% and I’m only pulling 84 kilowatts I know based on prior experience that 84 kilowatts is all I can expect at 55 state of charge and I hate that I have to add this warning but right now Rapid Chargers especially at Electrify America are just not reliable enough to plug in and walk away without checking on them.

What’s even more maddening Tesla’s Supercharger Network, which you can’t use unless you have a Tesla works that’s totally reliable I was stranded in Effingham Illinois Once. Because Electrify America is a pile of garbage right across the street of perfectly functioning Tesla Supercharger that I couldn’t use so I was stuck in that town 5 hours charging off a seven kilowatt AC charger at a hotel, before I could leave Tesla please open up your Supercharger Network I don’t care. If you add a CCS handle to the Chargers sell an adapter whatever it is make it happen please that’s all you need to know about rapid charging now.

Let’s dive a little deeper with some extra information that isn’t necessary, but it is good to know power and watch is just the voltage times the amperage P equals VI where V is voltage and I is current in amps in my Pulstar. When it’s DC charging it gives you all of this information, So you can see this in action and this information is actually helpful sometimes for instance. Electrify America station that I mentioned earlier that was limited to 40 kilowatts I could see on my pole Stars Dash that it was limited to exactly 100 amps, telling me there’s a problem with the charger current is the limiting factor more current equals more power lost through heat as represented by this equation P equals. I squared r where p is the power losses I is current and R is resistance, if you double the current you’re not doubling the heat related losses you’re quadrupling them. If you’ve ever heard any hoopla over 800 volt batteries in cars this is exactly why, if you want to hit a peak charging speed of 200 kilowatts but have a 400 volt battery you need to draw 500 amps is coincidentally the maximum allowed by the CCS charging standard.


What can I do when the trval?

But if you have an 800 volt car you only need to draw 250 amps to hit that same Target and if you’re having the current you’re not having the heat losses you’re quartering them. So you can maintain that Peak charging speed for a substantially longer period of time the model 3 versus EV6 example I brought up earlier that’s why there’s such a big difference the Tesla has a 400 volt battery if the Kia has an 800 volt battery to hit that 250 kilowatt Peak speed Target the model 3 has to draw 625 amps from the supercharger which generates a ton of heat and it has to derate quickly to avoid overheating the Kia to hit its peak speed has to draw less than 300 amps which generates less than a quarter the amount of the heat of the model 3 does and it can hold that charge rate for a long period of time and go on to obliterate the model 3 in terms of charging speeds.

So what about this charger the one that says 125 kilowatts I’m pulling 80 but plug share says 62 and a half because 125 kilowatts is not the only limitation to this thing. This cable is limited to 200 amps you can pull 125 kilowatts out of this unit, but you have to have a car battery with a voltage of at least 625 volts to do. So my car with its 400 volt battery can only manage 80 kilowatts in an F-150 Lightning with a slightly lower voltage battery pack can only manage 70 kilowatts. so then why does plug share call it a 62.5 kilowatt charger, because it’s a 62 and a half kilowatt charger on its own but these charge Point units can share power and if there’s only one car charging on either one of them they can combine power for the full 125 kilowatts which is most of the time I rarely see two cars charge here.

I hope you found this blog helpful, so many people don’t know that chargers operate at different rates and a lot of people don’t know the difference between AC and DC charging I have seen way too much news coverage from people that are excitedly taking road trips and EVS for the first time, but don’t know anything about charger rates pull up to a 24 kilowatt station and wonder why they’re stuck there for two hours despite the car advertising very proudly that it can charge up in 18 minutes.

The people that wrote this article should be ashamed of themselves for not doing any research at all, if all that sounds awful to you just remember rapid Chargers don’t serve the same purpose as gas stations. I drive all over the place of my car but still I charge at home 95 of the time it’s only when I’m out and about do I have to faff around with these rapid charging stations and obviously. If you live in a situation where you can’t charge at home that won’t be the case for you I’d also like to add that I’ve been everywhere in my car from Delaware to Salt Lake City and I’ve only ever been stranded once that’s not zero times unfortunately but for a network that’s only been around barely 5 years.

Post time: Jan-04-2024
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