An Unexpected Upset In EV Charging Standards

Last November, Tesla open-sourced parts of its charging infrastructure, not-so-humbly unveiling it as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). It’s finally taking off with a number of manufacturers signing on.

Companies launching “standards” based on their previously proprietary technology in opposition to an established alternative usually leads to standards proliferation. However, with recent announcements from Ford, GM, and Rivian that they would begin supporting NACS in their vehicles, it seems a new dominant standard is supplanting CCS (and the all-but-dead CHAdeMO) in North America.

As Tesla already has the most extensive charging network on the continent and has begun opening it up for other EVs, it makes sense that other marques would want to support NACS, if nothing else to satiate customer demand for a dead-simple charging experience. Dongles are annoying enough for plugging in an external monitor. Having to mess with one while handling high-power electrical connections is less than ideal, to say the least.

If you want to add NACS to your own EV project, the standard is here. We’ve discussed some of the different standards before as well as work toward wirelessly charging EVs (besides the inductive charger on the EV1). It certainly seems like the time to get in on the ground floor of an EV charging empire with an army of Charglas.

EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes

Electric vehicles are now commonplace on our roads, and charging infrastructure is being built out across the world to serve them. It’s the electric equivalent of the gas station, and soon enough, they’re going to be everywhere.

However, it raises an interesting problem. Gas pumps simply pour a liquid into a hole, and have been largely standardized for quite some time. That’s not quite the case in the world of EV chargers, so let’s dive in and check out the current state of play.

AC, DC, Fast, or Slow?

Since becoming more mainstream over the past decade or so, EV technology has undergone rapid development. With most EVs still somewhat limited in range, automakers have developed ever-faster charging vehicles over the years to improve practicality. This has come through improvements to batteries, controller hardware, and software. Charging tech has evolved to the point where the latest EVs can now add hundreds of miles of range in under 20 minutes.

However, charging EVs at this pace requires huge amounts of power. Thus, automakers and industry groups have worked to develop new charging standards that can deliver high current to top vehicle batteries off as quickly as possible.

As a guide, a typical home outlet in the US can deliver 1.8 kW of power. It would take an excruciating 48 hours or more to charge a modern EV from a home socket like this.

In contrast, modern EV charge ports can carry anywhere from 2 kW up to 350 kW in some cases, and require highly specialized connectors to do so. Various standards have come about over the years as automakers look to pump more electricity into a vehicle at greater speed. Let’s take a look at the most common options out in the wild today. Continue reading “EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes”