Alternating Current (AC) Charging

AC charging, or alternating current charging, is a method of recharging electric vehicles (EVs) where the alternating current supplied by the electrical grid is converted into direct current (DC) by the vehicle's onboard charger. This conversion is necessary as EV batteries store energy in DC form.

AC charging is primarily used for non-rapid charging scenarios, such as at home or public charging stations, and is particularly suitable for daily recharging needs. The process involves the grid supplying AC power to the EV charger, which then passes through the vehicle’s onboard charger. This onboard charger is responsible for converting the AC into DC, which is then stored in the vehicle’s battery.

There are three main levels of AC charging infrastructure:

  • Level 1 Charging: Utilises a standard household electrical outlet (120V). It is the slowest form of AC charging, typically adding about 5-8 km of range per hour. Level 1 charging is ideal for overnight charging at home where the vehicle can remain plugged in for an extended period.
  • Level 2 Charging: Uses a higher voltage (240V), similar to that used by household appliances like dryers. Level 2 chargers can add approximately 16-97 km of range per hour, depending on the power rating of the charger (usually 3.7 to 22 kW). These chargers are suitable for locations where vehicles are parked for a few hours, such as workplaces, shopping centres, and public charging stations. They often require dedicated equipment and installation.
  • High-Power AC Charging: Beyond the typical 22 kW, some AC chargers can deliver up to 43 kW. These chargers can add around 130-200 km of range per hour, depending on the vehicle’s efficiency and the onboard charger’s capacity. High-power AC chargers are less common but can be found in certain public and semi-public spaces where quicker turnaround is beneficial.

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