Charging station

A charging station, also called electric vehicle charging station, electric recharging point, charging point, charge point, electronic charging station (ECS), and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), is a machine that supplies electric energy to charge plug-in electric vehicles—including cars, neighborhood electric vehicles, trucks, buses and others.

Charging stations for electric vehicles:
  • Top-left: a Tesla Roadster (2008) being charged at an electric charging station in Iwata city, Japan.
  • Top-right: Brammo Empulse electric motorcycle at an AeroVironment charging station.
  • Bottom-left: Nissan Leaf recharging from a NRG Energy eVgo station in Houston, Texas.
  • Bottom-right: converted Toyota Priuses recharging at public charging stations in San Francisco (2009).

Some electric vehicles have on-board converters that plug into a standard electrical outlet or a higher voltage outlet. Others use custom charging stations.

Charging stations provide connectors that conform to a variety of standards. For common direct current rapid charging, chargers are equipped with multiple adaptors such as Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO, and AC fast charging.

Public charging stations are typically found street-side or at retail shopping centers, government facilities and parking areas.


Charging station with NEMA connector for electric AMC Gremlin used by Seattle City Light in 1973[1]
Charging connectors: IEC Type 4/CHAdeMO (left); CCS Combo 2 (centre); IEC Type 2 outlet (right)

Multiple standards have been established for charging technology to enable interoperability across vendors. Standards are available for nomenclature, power and connectors. Notably, Tesla has developed proprietary technology in these areas.


The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) defines the general physical, electrical, communication and performance requirements for EV charging systems used in North America, as part of standard SAE J1772.[2]

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) adopted a majority of the SAE J1772 standard under IEC 62196-1 for international implementation.

Charging "Levels" are based upon the power distribution type, standards and maximum power.

Alternating Current (AC)

AC charging stations connect the vehicle's onboard charging circuitry directly to the AC Supply.[2]

  • AC Level 1: Connects directly to a standard 120 V North American residential outlet; capable of supplying 616 A (0.71.92 kW) depending on the capacity of a dedicated circuit.
  • AC Level 2: Utilizes 240 V residential or 208 V commercial power to supply between 6 and 80 A (1.419.2 kW). It provides a significant charging speed increase over Level 1 AC charging.
Direct Current (DC)

Commonly incorrectly called "Level 3" charging, DC charging is categorized separately. In DC fast-charging, grid power is passed through an AC-to-DC rectifier before reaching the vehicle's battery, bypassing any onboard inverter.[2][3]

  • DC Level 1: Supplies a maximum of 80 kW at 501000 V.
  • DC Level 2: Supplies a maximum of 400 kW at 501000 V.

For electric cars and light trucks, an extension to the CCS DC fast-charging standard is under development for larger commercial vehicles. It was to be called High Power Charging for Commercial Vehicles (HPCCV). HPCCV is expected to operate in the range of 2001500 V and 03000 A for a theoretical maximum power of 4.5 MW. The proposal calls for HPCCV charge ports to be compatible with existing CCS and HPC chargers.[4]

For a Tesla Model S, a supercharger can add around 275 km (170 miles) of range in about 30 minutes.[5] As of April 2018, Tesla reported 1,210 supercharging stations.[6]


The International Electrotechnical Commission, defines charging in modes (IEC 62196):

  • Mode 1: slow charging from a regular electrical socket (single- or three-phase)
  • Mode 2: slow charging from a regular socket but with some EV specific protection arrangement (i.e. the Park & Charge or the PARVE systems)
  • Mode 3: slow or fast charging using a specific EV multi-pin socket with control and protection functions (i.e. SAE J1772 and IEC 62196)
  • Mode 4: fast charging using a charging interface such as CHAdeMO

The three connection cases are:

  • Case A: any charger connected to the mains (the mains supply cable is usually attached to the charger) usually associated with modes 1 or 2.
  • Case B: an on-board vehicle charger with a mains supply cable that can be detached from both the supply and the vehicle – usually mode 3.
  • Case C: DC dedicated charging station. The mains supply cable may be permanently attached to the charge station as in mode 4.


Charging connectors: IEC Type 1/SAE J1772 inlet (left); Tesla02 proprietary outlet (center); IEC Type 2 connector outlet (right)

Common connectors include J1772, Type 2 connector Type 3 connector, Combined charging system, CHAdeMO, and Tesla.[7][8]

The four plug types are:

  • Type 1: single-phase vehicle coupler – SAE J1772/2009 automotive plug specifications
  • Type 2: single- and three-phase vehicle coupler – VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2 plug specifications
  • Type 3: single- and three-phase vehicle coupler equipped with safety shutters – EV Plug Alliance proposal
  • Type 4: fast charge coupler – for special systems such as CHAdeMO

CCS DC charging requires Powerline Communications (PLC). Two connectors are added at the bottom of Type 1 or Type 2 vehicle inlets and charging plugs to supply DC current. These are commonly known as Combo 1 or Combo 2 connectors. The choice of style inlets is normally standardized on a per-country basis so that public chargers do not need to fit cables with both variants. Generally, North America uses Combo 1 style vehicle inlets, while most of the rest of the world uses Combo 2.

The CHAdeMO standard is favored by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota, while the SAE J1772 Combo standard is backed by GM, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Hyundai. Both systems charge to 80% in approximately 20 minutes, but the two systems are completely incompatible. Richard Martin, editorial director for clean technology marketing and consultant firm Navigant Research, stated:

The broader conflict between the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors, we see that as a hindrance to the market over the next several years that needs to be worked out.[9]

US traffic sign used for EV charging station
Public-domain international charge station sign

Charging time

BYD e6. Recharging in 15 Minutes to 80 Percent
Solaris Urbino 12 electric, battery electric bus, inductive charging station

Charging time basically depends on the battery's capacity, power density, and charging power. The larger the capacity, the more charge the battery can hold (analogous to the size of the fuel tank). Higher power density allows the battery to accept more charge/unit time (the size of the tank opening). Higher charging power supplies more energy per unit time (analogous to a pump's flow rate).

California Air Resources Board specified a target to qualify as a zero-emission vehicle: add 200-mile (300 km) in under 15 minutes. The intent was to match the refueling expectations of internal combustion engine drivers.

Charge time can be calculated as:[10]

The effective charging power can be lower than the maximum charging power due to limitations of the battery or battery management system, charging losses (which can be as high as 25%[11]), and vary over time due to charging limits applied by a charge controller.

Battery capacity

The usable battery capacity of a first-generation electric vehicle, such as the original Nissan Leaf, was about 20 kWh, giving it a range of about 100 mi (160 km). Tesla was the first company to introduce longer-range vehicles, initially releasing their Model S with battery capacities of 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh, with the latter lasting for about 480 km (300 mi). Plug-in hybrid vehicles typically have capacity of roughly 3 to 20 kWh, lasting for 20 to 80 kilometers (15 to 50 miles).

AC to DC conversion

Batteries are charged with DC power. To charge from the AC power supplied by the electrical grid, EVs have a small AC-to-DC converter built into the vehicle. The charging cable supplies AC power from the wall, and the vehicle converts this power to DC internally and charges its battery. The built-in converters on most EVs typically support charging speeds up to 6–7 kW, sufficient for overnight charging. This is known as "AC charging". To facilitate rapid recharging of EVs, much higher power (50–100 kW+) is necessary. This requires a much larger AC-to-DC converter which is not practical to integrate into the vehicle. Instead, the AC-to-DC conversion is performed by the charging station, and DC power is supplied to the vehicle directly, bypassing the built-in converter. This is known as "DC fast charging".

Charging time for 100 km of range on a Tesla Model S Long Range per EPA (111 MGPe / 188 Wh/km)[12]
Configuration Voltage Current Power Charging time Comment
Single-phase AC 120 V 12 A 1.44 kW 13 hours This is the maximum continuous power available from a standard US/Canadian 120 V 15  circuit
Single-phase AC 230 V 12 A 2.76 kW 6.8 hours This is the maximum continuous power available from a CEE 7/3 ("Schuko") receptacle on a 16 A rated circuit
Single-phase AC 240 V 30 A 7.20 kW 2.6 hours Common maximum limit of public AC charging stations used in North America, such as a ChargePoint CT4000
Three-phase AC 400 V 16 A 11.0 kW 1.7 hours Limit of a European 16 A three-phase AC charging station
Three-phase AC 400 V 32 A 22.1 kW 51 minutes Limit of a European 32 A three-phase AC charging station
DC 400 V 125 A 50 kW 22 minutes Typical mid-power DC charging station
DC 400 V 300 A 120 kW 9 minutes Typical power from a V2 Tesla Supercharger


A Sunwin electric bus in Shanghai at a charging station
A battery electric bus charging station in Geneva, Switzerland

Charging stations are usually accessible to multiple electric vehicles and are equipped with current or connection sensing mechanisms to disconnect the power when the EV is not charging.

The two main types of safety sensor:

  • Current sensors monitor power consumed, and maintain the connection only while demand is within a predetermined range.
  • Sensor wires provide a feedback signal such as specified by the SAE J1772 and IEC 62196 schemes that require special (multi-pin) power plug fittings.

Sensor wires react more quickly, have fewer parts to fail, and are possibly less expensive to design and implement. Current sensors however can use standard connectors and can allow suppliers to monitor or charge for the electricity actually consumed.

Public charging stations

Public charging park in Germany
Prototype modified Renault Laguna EVs charging at Project Better Place charging stations in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, north of Tel Aviv.
Public charging stations in a parking lot near Los Angeles International Airport. Shown are two obsolete 6 kW AC charging stations (left: inductive Magne-charge gen2 SPI, right: conductive EVII ICS-200 AVCON).
REVAi/G-Wiz i charging from an on-street station in London
Car charging point in Scotland

Longer drives require a network of public charging stations. In addition, they are essential for vehicles that lack access to a home charging station, as is common in multi-family housing. Costs vary greatly by country, power supplier and power source. Some services charge by the minute, while others charge by the amount of energy received (measured in kilowatt-hours).

Charging stations may not need much new infrastructure in developed countries, less than delivering a new fuel over a new network.[13] The stations can leverage the existing ubiquitous electrical grid.[14]

Charging stations are offered by public authorities, commercial enterprises and some major employers to address range barriers. Options include simple charging posts for roadside use, charging cabinets for covered parking places and fully automated charging stations integrated with power distribution equipment.[15]

As of December 2012, around 50,000 non-residential charging points were deployed in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.[16] As of August 2014, some 3,869 CHAdeMO quick chargers were deployed, with 1,978 in Japan, 1,181 in Europe and 686 in the United States, and 24 in other countries.[17]


As of December 2012, Japan had 1,381 public DC fast-charging stations, the largest deployment of fast chargers in the world, but only around 300 AC chargers.[16] As of December 2012, China had around 800 public slow charging points, and no fast charging stations.[16]

As of September 2013, the largest public charging networks in Australia were in the capital cities of Perth and Melbourne, with around 30 stations (7 kW AC) established in both cities – smaller networks exist in other capital cities.[18]


As of December 2013, Estonia was the only country that had completed the deployment of an EV charging network with nationwide coverage, with 165 fast chargers available along highways at a maximum distance of between 40–60 km (25–37 mi), and a higher density in urban areas.[19][20][21]

As of November 2012, about 15,000 charging stations had been installed in Europe.[22]

As of March 2013, Norway had 4,029 charging points and 127 DC fast-charging stations.[23] As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, the Dutch government initiated a plan to establish over 200 fast (DC) charging stations across the country by 2015. The rollout will be undertaken by ABB and Dutch startup Fastned, aiming to provide at least one station every 50 km (31 mi) for the Netherlands' 16 million residents.[24] In addition to that, the E-laad foundation installed about 3000 public (slow) charge points since 2009.[25]

North America

As of August 2018, 800,000 electric vehicles and 18,000 charging stations operated in the United States,[26] up from 5,678 public charging stations and 16,256 public charging points in 2013.[27][28] By July 2020, Tesla had installed 1,971 stations (17,467 plugs).[29]

As of August 2019, in the U.S., there are 2,140 CHAdeMO charging stations (3,010 plugs), 1,888 SAE CCS1 charging stations (3,525 plugs), and 678 Tesla Supercharger stations (6,340 plugs), according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.[30]

Colder areas such as Finland, some northern US states and Canada have some infrastructure for public power receptacles provided primarily for use by block heaters. Although their circuit breakers prevent large current draws for other uses, they can be used to recharge electric vehicles, albeit slowly.[31] In public lots, some such outlets are turned on only when the temperature falls below 20 °C, further limiting their value.[32]

In 2017, Tesla gave the owners of its Model S and Model X cars 400 kWh of Supercharger credit,[33] although this varied over time. The price ranges from $0.060.26/kWh in the United States.[34] Tesla Superchargers are usable only by Tesla vehicles.

Other charging networks are available for all electric vehicles. The Blink network has both AC and DC charging stations and charges separate prices for members and non-members. Their prices range from $0.390.69/kWh for members and $0.490.79/kWh for non-members, depending on location.[35] The ChargePoint network has free chargers and paid chargers that drivers activate with a free membership card.[36] Prices are based on local rates. Other networks may accept cash or a credit card.

South America

In April 2017, YPF, the state-owned oil company of Argentina, reported that it will install 220 fast-load stations for electric vehicles in 110 of its service stations in national territory.[37]


Wireless charging station
Detail of the wireless inductive charging device

Electric car manufacturers, charging infrastructure providers, and regional governments have entered into agreements and ventures to promote and provide electric vehicle networks of public charging stations.

The EV Plug Alliance[38] is an association of 21 European manufacturers that proposed an IEC norm and a European standard for sockets and plugs. Members (Schneider Electric, Legrand, Scame, Nexans, etc.) claimed that the system was safer because they use shutters. Prior consensus was that the IEC 62196 and IEC 61851-1 standards have already established safety by making parts non-live when touchable.[39][40][41]

Battery swap

A battery swapping (or switching) station allow vehicles to exchange a discharged battery pack for a charged one, eliminating the charge interval. Battery swapping is common in electric forklift applications.[42]


The concept of an exchangeable battery service was proposed as early as 1896. It was first offered between 1910 and 1924, by Hartford Electric Light Company, through the GeVeCo battery service, serving electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle, without a battery, from General Vehicle Company (GeVeCo), part-owned by General Electric.[43] The power was purchased from Hartford Electric in the form of an exchangeable battery. Both vehicles and batteries were designed to facilitate a fast exchange. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover truck maintenance and storage. These vehicles covered more than 6 million miles.

Beginning in 1917, a similar service operated in Chicago for owners of Milburn Electric cars.[44] A rapid battery replacement system was implemented to service 50 electric buses at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[45]

The SunRay and Caballito on their way to Micronesia for a conferrence on global warming.

In 1993[46] Suntera developed a two-seat 3-wheel electric vehicle called the SUNRAY, which came with a battery cartridge that swapped out in minutes at a battery-swap station. In 1995, Suntera added a motor scooter.[47] The company was later renamed Personal Electric Transports[48](P.E.T.). After 2000 the company developed an electric bus. In 2004, the company's 3-wheel stand-up EV won 1st place at the 5-day long American Tour De Sol electric vehicle race,[49] before closing in 2006.

Better Place, Tesla, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries considered battery switch approaches.[50][51] One complicating factor was that the approach requires vehicle design modifications.

In 2013, Tesla announced a proprietary charging station service. A network of Tesla Supercharger stations was envisioned to support both battery pack swaps and fast charging.[52][53] Tesla later focused exclusively on fast-charging stations.[54]


The following benefits were claimed for battery swapping:

  • "Refueling" in under five minutes.[55][56]
  • Automation: The driver can stay in the car while the battery is swapped.[57]
  • The driver does not own any batteries, transferring cost and management overhead to the station company.[58]
  • Switch company subsidies could reduce prices without involving vehicle owners.[59]
  • Spare batteries could participate in vehicle to grid energy services.


The Better Place network was the first modern attempt at the battery switching model. The Renault Fluence Z.E. was the first car enabled to adopt the approach and was offered in Israel and Denmark.[60]

Better Place launched its first battery-swapping station in Israel, in Kiryat Ekron, near Rehovot in March 2011. The exchange process took five minutes.[55][61] Better Place filed for bankruptcy in Israel in May 2013.[62][63]

In June 2013, Tesla announced its plan to offer battery swapping. Tesla showed that a battery swap with the Model S took just over 90 seconds.[56][64] Elon Musk said the service would be offered at around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. The vehicle purchase included one battery pack. After a swap, the owner could later return and receive their battery pack fully charged. A second option would be to keep the swapped battery and receive/pay the difference in value between the original and the replacement. Pricing was not announced.[56] In 2015 the company abandoned the idea for lack of customer interest.[65]

Other battery swapping service providers include Gogoro, Delta Electronics, BattSwap, and Voltia.[66][67] NIO has 131 swap stations in China.[68]


Battery swapping solutions were criticized as proprietary. By creating a monopoly regarding the ownership of the batteries and the patent protected technologies the companies split up the market and decrease the chances of a wider usage of battery swapping.[69]


An Ather Grid electric scooter charger in a park in Bangalore, India

Charging stations can be placed wherever electric power and adequate parking are available. As of 2017, charging stations had been criticized as inaccessible, hard to find, out of order, and slow; thus slowing EV adoption.[70] As of 2018 a few gas stations offered EV charging stations.[71] As of 2021, in addition to home stations, public stations had been sighted along highways, in shopping centers, hotels, government facilities and at workplaces. As of 2021, residences were by far the most common charging location.[72] Home charging stations typically lack user authentication and separate metering, and may require a dedicated circuit.[73] Some portable chargers can be wall mounted.

Public chargers may charge a fee or offer free service based on government or corporate promotions. Charge rates vary from residential speeds up to many times higher. Vehicles can typically be charged without the owner present, allowing the owner to partake in other activities.[74] Sites include malls, freeway rest stops, transit stations, government offices, etc.[75][76] Typically, AC Type1 / Type2 plugs are used. Mobile charging involves another vehicle that brings the charger to the vehicle. Wireless charging uses inductive charging mats that charge without a wired connection and can be embedded in parking stalls or even on roadways.

Smart grid

A smart grid is one that can adapt to changing conditions by limiting service or adjusting prices. Some charging stations can communicate with the grid and activate charging when conditions are optimal, such as when prices are relatively low. Some vehicles allow the operator to control recharging.[77] Vehicle-to-grid scenarios allow the vehicle battery to supply the grid during periods of peak demand. This requires communication between the grid, charging station, and vehicle. SAE International is developing related standards. These include SAE J2847/1.[78][79] ISO and IEC are developing similar standards known as ISO/IEC 15118.

Renewable energy

Charging stations are typically connected to the grid, which in most jurisdictions relies on fossil-fuel power stations. However, renewable energy may be used to reduce the use of grid energy. Nidec Industrial Solutions has a system that can be powered by either the grid or renewable energy sources like PV. In 2009, SolarCity marketed its solar energy systems for charging installations. The company announced a single demonstration station in partnership with Rabobank on Highway 101 between San Francisco and Los Angeles.[80]

Several Chevrolet Volts at a charging station partially powered with solar panels in Frankfort, Illinois.

The E-Move Charging Station is equipped with eight monocrystalline solar panels, which can supply 1.76 kW of solar power.[81]

In 2012, Urban Green Energy introduced the world's first wind-powered electric vehicle charging station, the Sanya SkyPump. The design features a 4 kW vertical-axis wind turbine paired with a GE WattStation.[82]

See also

  • Automated charging machine
  • Battery charger
  • Direct coupling
  • ECOtality
  • Electric vehicle battery
  • Electric vehicle network
  • Inductive charging
  • GridPoint
  • Filling station
  • IAV
  • List of energy storage projects
  • Magne Charge
  • OpenEVSE
  • Pantographs and underbody collectors
  • Park & Charge
  • Plugless Power
  • Radio-frequency identification RFID
  • Solar Roadways
  • Solar vehicle
  • Street light


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