How to Choose the Right Electric Van Charging Solution

How to Choose the Right Electric Van Charging Solution

Choosing the right electric van charging solution depends on your business needs and the size of your fleet’s batteries. Businesses driving long distances will use the charging devices available at motorway service areas, service stations, and electric forecourts. Those travelling short distances within a city area generally recharge overnight at their business base. 

Statistics published in March 2024 by the Department for Transport, in collaboration withZapmap, highlight the following:

59.590  Number of public electric vehicle charging devices available in the UK 

52.6% of devices were fast charging 

28.9% of devices were slow charging

10.7% of devices were rapid charging

7.8% of devices were ultra rapid charging  

Best practice indicates that slow charging is currently the best option for electric vehicle batteries. We look at the various charging solutions and highlight their advantages and disadvantages. 

Types of Electric Currents for EV Chargers

With the rise of EVs in the UK, drivers need to consider a new aspect of car ownership: efficient charging. Similar to selecting the right octane rating at the pump, plugging in your EV requires choosing the correct charger type. Buckle up as we learn more about AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current) charging, unpacking their strengths and weaknesses to empower you to make informed charging decisions on the road.

AC Charging (Alternating Current)

AC charging is the most common method for topping off your EV’s battery, mirroring how we charge everyday devices like laptops and smartphones. It functions by delivering electricity in its standard wall outlet form directly to the car’s onboard charger. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Power Source: AC chargers deliver electricity in the same form it comes out of the wall outlet.
  • Charging Speed: AC chargers are slower than DC chargers. There are two levels of AC charging:
    • Level 1: This is the slowest charging option, typically using a standard 120-volt wall outlet. It’s suitable for overnight charging, but not ideal for topping up quickly.
    • Level 2: Level 2 chargers are significantly faster than Level 1, using a 240-volt outlet (similar to a dryer outlet). These are common for home installations and public EV charging stations.

Benefits: AC charging is generally less expensive to install and operate compared to DC charging.

DC Charging (Direct Current)

Imagine needing a quick energy boost before hitting the road again. That’s where DC charging comes in, offering a fast and efficient way to replenish your EV’s battery. Here’s what sets DC charging apart:

  • Power Source: Unlike AC charging, DC chargers deliver electricity in the form that your car’s battery uses directly. This bypasses the on-board conversion process, leading to significantly faster charging times. Think of it like filling up a petrol tank – quick and to the point.
  • Charging Speed: DC charging is much faster than AC charging. DC fast chargers, also known as Level 3 chargers, can provide a significant amount of charge in a relatively short time (typically under 30 minutes).
  • Benefits: DC charging is ideal for long trips when you need to add range quickly since strategically placed DC fast charging stations can help you maintain your desired pace without excessive downtime.

Remember: Not all EVs are created equal. Always consult your owner’s manual to ensure compatibility with different DC charging standards before plugging in.

Choosing Your Champion: AC vs. DC Chargers

The choice between AC and DC charging boils down to your specific needs. Here’s a quick guide:

  • For overnight or workplace charging, where you have ample time: AC charging (Level 1 or Level 2) is your champion, offering a cost-effective and convenient solution.
  • For situations where you need a quick top-up during long trips or require a fast boost: DC charging reigns supreme, delivering the fastest charging option to get you back on the road in a flash.

Types of EV Chargers

Electric vans are becoming increasingly popular, but charging them requires a different approach than fueling gasoline vehicles. To ensure a seamless ownership experience, understanding how to efficiently charge your van is essential. Here’s a breakdown of the different charging options available, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Level 1 Charging (Slow Charging Solution)  

Power: 3kW to 6kW (AC)

Applications: Ideal for overnight charging at homes or workplaces with extended parking durations.

Functionality: Uses alternating current (AC) from the national grid to recharge your van’s battery. You can use a standard 3-pin plug, but a dedicated wallbox installation is highly recommended for safety and efficiency.

Advantage: Slow charging is better for your van’s battery as it generates less heat.
Disadvantage: It can take from 8 to 24 hours to recharge, depending on the battery size and vehicle. A 3-pin plug EV charger could be a fire risk.   

Level 2 Charging (Fast Charging Solution)

Power: 7kW to 22kW (AC)

Applications: Most prevalent public charging solution, ideal for “destination charging” during extended stops like shopping centers, parking garages, or leisure areas.

Functionality: Employs AC to recharge your van’s battery. Faster than Level 1, making it suitable for topping up the battery while parked for errands or appointments.

Advantage: There are more of them publicly available, and they charge at higher speeds than slow charging solutions.

Disadvantage: They take up to 5 hours to recharge your electric van’s battery and longer if you need to charge a low battery.

Level 3 Charging (Rapid Charging Solution)

Power: 25kW to 100kW (DC)

Applications: Perfect for situations requiring a quick boost, often found at ferry terminals, electric vehicle (EV) forecourts, motorway service areas, and gas stations.

Functionality: Utilises direct current (DC) delivered straight to the van’s battery, enabling significantly faster charging times. However, to protect the battery from damage, charging slows down after reaching 80%. Fully charging from low battery may still require an additional hour.

Advantage: It takes only 20 to 45 minutes to recharge the battery. 

Disadvantage: It generates more heat, causing the lithium-ion battery running your van to degrade and lose capacity over time.

Level 4 Charging (Ultra Rapid Charging Solution

Power: 100kW and above (DC)

Applications: Primarily located in motorway service areas and along major roads, catering to long-distance travel needs. Compatibility with ultra-rapid charging should be verified before use, as not all EVs support these high speeds.

Functionality: Similar to Level 3, it uses DC for swift battery charging.

Advantage: It can charge the battery to 80% in 20 minutes, depending on the make and model of the electric vehicle and the charger’s power. 
Disadvantage: Ultra rapid charging is not ideal for the average electric vehicle but is used by premium and luxury cars due to its charge strength. 

Wireless EV Charging

Wireless electric vehicle charging would be ideal for businesses once it becomes available for general use. Your electric fleet vans will recharge while waiting for their load. It might take a while before wireless EV charging becomes publicly available, as the technology is new. Innovate UK is funding various research initiatives, including that of the Nottingham City Council and Heriot-Watt University.   

Advantage: You don’t need to get out and plug a charging cable into your vehicle. 

Disadvantage: Wireless EV charging is a new technology.

Maxus commercial electric vans have various battery sizes to accommodate your needs, and you can find us at over 60 dealers in the UK. Contact Maxus today to discuss which electric van charging solution is best for your business. 

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