Motoring toward the future, a look at EV charging

Dan Baldwin, technical support manager for power, Sager Electronics

Sager Electronics’ technical support manager for power, Don Baldwin, summarizes EV charger growth opportunities and the component groups supporting charger manufacturing 

Across the globe, the electric vehicle (EV) market is experiencing significant growth. Stricter emissions regulations, declining battery costs, automotive manufacturer investment and increased government adoption are some factors driving upward trajectory and expansion. 

In 2021, the US government enacted legislation on its 2050 net-zero emissions path by investing $7.5 billion in EV charging, $10 billion in clean transportation and over $7 billion in EV battery components and other materials. These investments are intended to support dozens of federal initiatives designed to drive US manufacturing while creating an EV charging network nation-wide.

The expansion of the EV charging network—including charging stations, fast-charging networks and home charging solutions—is essential for growth. As of 2020, there were two million EVs operating in the US. This number is expected to reach eighteen million in ten years. At that growth rate, a charger would be required for every 1.38 vehicles with charging stations located every fifty miles. Toward this goal, this past February, new standards were announced by the current administration pushing for the manufacture and installation of 500,000 made-in-USA EV chargers across the country by 2030—an effort that would further propel EV sales. 

An EV charging station comprises electronic components that work together to facilitate the charging process including: 

AC/DC conversion: Fast charging stations convert alternating current (AC) from the power source to direct current (DC) needed to charge the EV’s battery. This conversion is performed by an AC/DC converter or rectifier.

Charger controller: Manages the charging process, including governing the power output, monitoring battery state and maintaining safety protocols. It communicates with the EV to determine the appropriate charging rate and duration.

Connectors and cables: Charging stations are equipped with cables and connectors that physically link the station to the EV. Common connector types include Type 1 (J1772), Tesla, and CCS (Combined Charging System). 

Communication and data connectivity: Charging stations often include communication interfaces such as RFID (radio frequency identification), cellular networks, Bluetooth or WiFi to interact with the EV and transmit energy consumed during charging data, statistics and analytics to network operators, service providers or vehicle owners. 

Safety features: EV charging stations incorporate safety mechanisms such as ground fault, surge, overcurrent and short-circuit protections to guard against electrical faults and ensure user safety. 

Thermal management: While lower-level charging doesn’t generate a significant amount of heat, Level 3 components get extremely hot, requiring an air or liquid cooling solution.

Display and user interface: Charging stations often have a user interface which may include a display for charging status, user authentication inputs and user-friendly instructions. 

Energy management system: Advanced charging stations may incorporate an energy management system to optimize power consumption, load balancing and integration with renewable energy sources.

As the global and local shift towards reducing emissions and combatting climate change continues to push the EV market forward, it is important to consider the quality, reliability, efficiency and compatibility of the component requirements when sourcing product for an EV charger application.