Charging an electric car at home – we clarify important questions

We shed light on the technical abbreviations and terms, on the various plugs and cables, and on all the additional costs involved in this topic.

We also dispel myths so that “charging an electric car at home” is as easy as brushing your teeth.

Charging an electric car at home – what do you need??

To recharge an electric car or a plug-in hybrid, you need a parking space with an power connection. Ideally in the immediate vicinity, ideally directly at home on one’s own property.

An ICCB on a charging cable.

If long charging times of several hours are not an issue, the vehicle can be charged via a charging cable with an integrated control unit connected to a conventional Household socket be charged with 230 volts. Said control device is called “In-cable control boxThis is called an “in-cable control box”, or “in-cable control” for shortICCB” descends.

This method is certainly the most convenient option, but in addition to the long charging times, it also has another disadvantage: the increased risk of a Cable fires, as the in-house power grid is heavily stressed by this long-term load. Due to the low efficiency, this type of charging is often referred to as “emergency charging”.

A faster method is to connect to a power connection that is often already available in many households (Three-phase alternating current, or also called heavy current). At 400 volt charging voltage, the charging time is significantly reduced. A charging cable is also provided for this purpose with ICCB requires.

Alternative wallbox

A much more convenient alternative for charging the vehicle is offered by a Wallbox, which is also operated with 400 volts three-phase alternating current, but as an advantage the charging control has already been integrated in the wallbox. Therefore, an e-car specific charging cable can be used without ICCB.

The wallbox is a designation for a charging station according to IEC 62196 (international standard for plug types) which has been specially developed for electric vehicles. A wallbox is connected to the 400-volt power grid as described above. Depending on what the lines allow with 16 or 32 amps.

Since this power connection is already available in most households, since it is used among other things also for kitchen stoves, the basic condition of the installation of a Wallbox exists hereby. Due to the higher currents Higher charging power of 11 to 22 kilowatts can be achieved, which means that the Charging time is significantly shortened.

However, the charging time also depends on the battery capacity of the corresponding battery itself. The larger the capacity of the battery, the longer the charging time for a complete charge.

The installation should always be carried out by a professional who at the same time clarifies whether all the connections and also cables of this Withstand continuous load, as it can be charged with up to 32 amperes of current. Otherwise there is also a risk of a worst case Risk of cable fire.

The car is connected to the wallbox via a charging cable with the Type 2 plug which is also called the “Mennekes plug”. Asian car manufacturers such as KIA or Nissan also use the Plug type-1 widespread.

Seeing through different types of plugs

In the following, we would like to give a brief overview of the different connector types. On the vehicle itself is located basically the e-car specific connection according to the IEC 62196 standard Type 1 or Type 2. At the house connection there are then different possibilities, which presuppose the appropriate cable type.

  • The Standard plug (according to CEE 7/4) is also called household plug, because it is standard in German households. The charging power is about 2.3 kW at 230 volts and 10 amps. A connection cable with ICCB is required.
  • The CEE blue plug (standard IEC 60309) is also called “camping plug”, because it is often used in the camping area due to its robust nature. The maximum charging power is hereby 3.7 kW at 230 volts and 16 amps. Also for this a cable with ICCB is needed.
  • Similar to the CEE blue plug is also the CEE red plug (according to standard IEC 60309) used for a continuous load. Often this connection is also called “three-phase plug” or “three-phase plug”. It is designed for 400 volts and 16 or 32 amps, thus a charging power of up to 22 kilowatts is possible. Also with this it works only with ICCB.
  • The Charging plug type 2 (standard IEC 62196) is also referred to as a Mennekes-Plug designated. Most wallboxes and public charging stations are equipped with this connector. The type 2 plug was specially developed for charging electric cars, as in addition to the current they also provide Information exchange between car and charging station. In the version of 400 volts and 32 amps, they bring it to a charging capacity of 22 kilowatts. An ICCB is not necessary, as the charging control is integrated in the wallbox.
  • Asian electric vehicles prefer to use the Charging plug type 1, which is designed for a single-phase three-wire network. As a result, it can guarantee a maximum charging power of 7.4 kW with a single-phase charger. For the European market, this cable has a type 2 plug on one side and a type 1 plug on the other side. The same applies here with regard to charge control.

Volvo V60 charging cable

Charging cable with Menneckes connector in a Volvo V60 Twin Engine.

AC-DC – or alternating current to direct current

In Germany, as in the rest of Europe, the power grid is supplied with Alternating current operated. However, when charging an electric car Direct current needed, since the current for charging batteries always has to flow in one direction. This problem is solved by a Rectifier, i.e. a Converter, which converts the alternating current to direct current. This operation is performed automatically by the charger.

With a public charging station DC current is already present and simply flows past the converter directly into the battery.

Duration of a charging process

The duration of a charging process is influenced by two factors: The Battery capacity and the Charging technology. In addition, the Condition the battery plays a not insignificant role. This in turn also depends on external influences such as the temperature.

Depending on the voltage and current used, the charging power is as follows. At the household connection (230 V) with 10 amps, the charging capacity is 2.3 kW. The charging process takes a correspondingly long time. At a wallbox (400 V) with 32 ampere a power of 22 kW can be used, which shortens the charging time accordingly.

If one assumes a Battery capacity of 20 kilowatt hours, the charging time is between six and eight hours at a normal household socket (230 volts and 10 amps). At a wallbox, the charging time is reduced to a total of around one hour.

Nissan Leaf cockpit

Charging: At the 220-volt socket, the “big” Nissan Leaf needs 13 hours. At the wallbox good 5.

The prerequisite for this is a three-phase charger in the car. If a vehicle only has a single-phase charger, the charging process is also limited to 7.4 kilowatts at a 22 kilowatt wallbox. In Germany, the power is even limited to only 4.6 kilowatts per phase, in order to shift loads in the power grid. Assuming the 4.6 kilowatts, the battery would take about four to five hours to charge.

Number of phases, charging duration, and standard range of popular electric cars:

Model with battery capacity phases duration 2.3 kW Duration 11 kW Duration 22 kW Range km
BMW i3 (22 kWh) 1 8 6 3 190
BMW i3 (33 kWh) 3 12 3 4,5 312
Renault ZOE (22 kWh) 3 10 3 2 210
Renault ZOE (41 kWh) 3 25 4,5 3 400
VW e-Golf (24 kWh) 1 11 7 190
VW e-Golf (35 kWh) 2 13 10 300
VW e-up! (19 kWh) 1 8,5 5,5 160
Nissan Leaf (24 kWh) 1 10 7,5 4 199
Nissan Leaf (30 kWh) 1 13 10 5,5 250
Smart 451 ED (18 kWh) 3 8 2 1 145
Hyundai Ioniq (28 kWh) 1 12 7,5 4,5 250
Kia Soul EV (27 kWh) 1 12 7,5 4,5 250

Cost per charge of the electric car at home

Since some Electricity provider more favorable Night power offer, one should not shy away from a comparison and charge the electric vehicle, if necessary, preferably overnight. In such a case, the installation of a separate electricity meter at the loading point of the Electric cars necessary. With some wallboxes you already acquire this with the purchase price.

A separate electricity meter would be necessary when using night power.

The Costs for a Wallbox depending on the manufacturer and equipment between 400 and 1.500 Euro. AttentionSome manufacturers of electric vehicles include the purchase of a corresponding wallbox with the purchase of an electric car subsidized or even as free on-top traded. If you are interested in a particular model, you should ask the manufacturer or dealer in question.

Public charging stations

About 80 percent of electric car owners charge their cars at home, according to the Bundesverband eMobilitat (German eMobility Association). For on the road, there are currently around 11.000 public charging stations available in Germany. Hamburg is currently the undisputed leader with 774 charging stations.

A public charging station with the usual Menneckes connection.

The stations are usually operated by large or regional energy companies operated. A public charging station usually offers a charging capacity of 22 kW. Occasionally there are also special Fast charging stations with 50 kW. To find these charging stations, there are special websites and apps, such as plugsurfing, goingelectric or e-fuelling-station-finder.

The Tesla Supercharger

Probably the fastest way to charge a car is offered by the Supercharger Tesla charging stations. The batteries of the car are charged with 480 volts and a peak power of 145 kilowatts. This is how the power storage units of the Tesla Model S and Model X Charged within 40 minutes.

Tesla charging station

Not only do they look spacy, but they also have similar power to the Teslas themselves.

The issue Electromobility will also accompany us in the future. In addition to the wallbox, other alternatives such as an inductive charging loop in the ground under the parking space are likely to be added soon. We can look forward to seeing how technology develops with regard to the topic of “charging an electric car at home”.

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