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Difference Between Alternating Current and Direct Current: 7 Facts About AC and DC Charging

by Busines Newswire
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The electrification of transportation will play an important part in the worldwide transition to more sustainable energy usage. Electric vehicle (EV) charging and powering is based on alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), which must be understood in order for this change to occur. In terms of electric car charging stations, this article describes the difference between AC and DC charging.

What is AC charging?

Most electric car chargers use alternating current (AC) charging since it is compatible with today’s electrical grid infrastructure. AC is the designation given to the current that flows through electrical wires and into buildings. An electric car’s built-in charger (also called the on-board charger) accepts alternating current (AC) and converts it to direct current (DC) before storing it in the battery. This conversion step is required because electric vehicle (EV) batteries use and store DC energy.

It is now easier and more convenient to charge electric vehicles using AC power, whether at home, at work, or at public charging stations with lower power levels. With power outputs ranging from 3 kW to 22 kW, these chargers are suitable for overnight charging or topping off during extended parking periods. Their charging speeds are typically moderate to semi-fast.

What is DC charging?

Direct current (DC) charging is the latest advancement in EV rapid charging technology. Direct current (DC) chargers pump DC current straight into the battery, as opposed to alternating current (AC) chargers, which use the vehicle’s built-in converter. This significantly reduces charging time. When every second counts, especially on lengthy trips, this method allows the battery’s charge to be quickly restored, much like a rapid injection of energy.

These devices, also known as direct current fast chargers, may deliver power ranging from 50 kW to over 350 kW, allowing a full charge to be completed in as little as twenty minutes. With these quick charging capabilities, electric vehicles may eventually overcome range anxiety and find new applications, including long-distance travel, which is a significant reason for their appeal.

7 facts about AC and DC charging

Here we present you 7 interesting facts that will help you understand AC and DC charging and what are the differences between the two:

AC charging is more common for home charging

AC charging is common as it is widely compatible with residential electrical systems. Since most houses already have an AC system, a Level 1 or Level 2 AC charger won’t break the bank and is easier to install. Owners of electric cars may take advantage of this helpful feature by charging their vehicles overnight, guaranteeing that they wake up with a fully charged battery.

DC charging is much faster than AC charging

One of the distinguishing features is the speed with which DC charging happens. Direct current (DC) fast chargers, as opposed to alternating current (AC) ones, can significantly reduce charging time for electric vehicles (EVs). The ability of electric vehicles to charge fast is a big selling advantage, since it allows drivers to go farther between charges and spend less time waiting for their vehicles to charge.

AC and DC charging stations have different connectors

To adapt to changing charging technologies, AC and DC chargers have separate connectors. Most AC chargers have either a Type 1 or Type 2 connector, however this varies by location and car model. Though DC fast chargers can use CHAdeMO, CCS (Combined Charging System), or Tesla’s Supercharger connector—which allows for variable charging speeds and protocols—there are other possibilities.

The onboard charger converts the AC electricity to DC to store in the battery

The charger is an essential component of every electric vehicle that converts direct current (DC) power into electrical current. This device transforms the alternating current (AC) from the household or charging station into direct current (DC), which may then be used to charge the car’s battery. The efficiency and capacity of the onboard charger are crucial elements in determining the pace of AC charging.

AC chargers typically range from 3 kW to 22 kW

An AC charger may charge slowly at night and quickly during the day. Level 1 chargers start from 3kW, while level 2 chargers have an output of up to 22 kW. Level 2 chargers are a more powerful option that strikes a better combination of speed and energy efficiency. They are ideal for everyday charging needs. Have in mind that very few electric vehicles can receive 22 kW on an AC chargers. In Europe the majority of the EVs can get up to 11 kW on an AC charger.

DC fast charging can potentially impact the health of an EV’s battery

Although rapid DC charging appears to be a good idea at first, it actually reduces the battery’s lifespan. The additional heat and stress that regular quick charging causes may degrade the battery’s lifetime and performance. Manufacturers and providers of charging infrastructure are constantly developing new cooling systems and charge management technologies to counteract these effects.

DC charging stations are more expensive to install and maintain

DC fast charging stations have higher startup and ongoing maintenance expenses due to improved technology and power supply. DC chargers are often only found on highways and in big cities because of the high cost and difficulties of the required infrastructure, which includes high-capacity power cables and specialized cooling systems.

Finally, the decision between AC and DC charging for electric cars is based on a variety of factors, including charging speed, infrastructure availability, and efficiency. As the electric vehicle (EV) sector expands, promising a cleaner, more electrified future, the development and deployment of both AC and DC charging procedures will be critical in defining the future of transportation.