Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming the norm in many places, including Hong Kong. According to the Environmental Protection Department, the total number of EVs in the city is 63,225 as of July 2023, representing about 6.8% of the total number of vehicles. This increasing adoption rate is largely due to the government’s encouragement and commitment to a greener future, with 243 EV models from 16 economies approved` by the Transport Department.
As more and more EVs are seen on the roads, these green vehicles have been adopted by various types of businesses across different industries. Driven by cost savings and government incentives, it is now common to find different businesses employing EVs, including delivery and logistics companies, government agencies, and public transit systems.
EV chargers play a vital role in supporting this widespread adoption of EVs, and they provide a convenient and reliable means of recharging vehicle batteries. These components are crucial, but how much do we really know about them? How do they work, and how can we implement large-scale charging stations in the car parks of offices, shopping malls, and airports?
In this article, we will examine what EV chargers are and how they work, as well as the types of EV chargers available on the market and their features and characteristics. If you are eager to make the greener transition and want information on how you can start taking steps, you can find more here.
What are EV chargers?
An EV charger, also known as an Electric Vehicle charger, is a bulk industrial charging device that is used to charge the battery of vehicles running on electric power instead of petrol. EV chargers come in various types and charging speeds to accommodate different types of vehicles. They are usually part of an EV charging station, which, in Hong Kong, is present in residential areas, office buildings, public car parks, and service stations for convenient overnight charging.
It is important to note that there is no widespread availability and density of EV charging stations in Hong Kong yet. However, as the EV adoption rate increases in the future, this may change. For the time being, EV owners can use mobile apps, official websites, government resources, and navigation systems to find the nearest EV chargers and check the availability of the stations in real-time.
How do EV chargers work?
EV chargers are like regular chargers for your electronic devices, but they are scaled up to accommodate the electricity required to power a vehicle. The process of charging involves several steps:
- Connection: The EV owner connects the charging cable from the charger to their vehicle, selecting the right connector that is compatible with the vehicle’s charging port.
- Communication: Upon connection, the EV charger and the vehicle communicate to establish a connection to ensure compatibility, and this is usually done through protocols such as the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) or proprietary protocols specific to the vehicle’s charging network.
- Authentication and authorization: In many cases, the EV owner needs to verify their identity to access the charging service, such as through ID cards, mobile apps, or payment systems.
- Power delivery: Once authenticated and authorized, the charger supplies electric power to the vehicle’s onboard charger, converting the AC power from the charger to DC power suitable for charging the vehicle’s battery.
- Charging progress: The vehicle’s onboard charger monitors the battery’s state of charge and communicates with the charger to adjust the charging parameters as needed to ensure safety and efficiency.
- Charging completion: Once the vehicle’s battery reaches the desired state of charge, the session is stopped, and the EV owner can disconnect the charging cable from the vehicle.
Types of EV chargers and their characteristics
Just as there is no one charger that works for all your electrical devices, there are various types of EV chargers to accommodate vehicles of different sizes. The charging mode depends on several factors, with charger type being one of them. EV chargers typically support different charging modes, such as Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast Charging (Level 3).
Level 1 EV Chargers
Level 1 chargers are the simplest and slowest, and they are typically included with the EV upon purchase. These chargers plug into standard household electrical outlets of 120 volts, and they provide a charging rate of 2-5 miles of range per hour of charging. Level 1 chargers are popular in overnight charging stations, for when faster charging speeds are not required.
Level 2 EV Chargers
Level 2 chargers operate at higher power levels than Level 1 chargers. They require a dedicated 240-volt electrical circuit, similar to what is used for larger appliances like dryers and washers. Naturally, they provide faster charging speeds compared to Level 1 chargers. They typically deliver around 10-30 miles of range per hour of charging. You can find Level 2 chargers installed in many Hong Kong EV charging stations in workplaces, residential blocks, and shopping malls.
Level 3 EV Chargers (DC Fast Chargers)
Finally, Level 3 EV Chargers, also known as DC Fast Chargers or DCFC, are the fastest charging option available for EVs. They deliver high power directly to the vehicle’s battery, which allows for rapid charging of up to 80% in 30 minutes to an hour. This depends on the vehicle and charger capabilities. These chargers can also be found in some Hong Kong EV charging stations, in more commercial settings.
Other factors that affect charging speeds
Aside from the type of EV charger used, other factors that have an influence on charging speeds include the capability of the vehicle’s onboard charger and the charging infrastructure available. Some vehicles are equipped with region-specific or model-specific chargers, while others may have regenerative braking systems, which help vehicles recharge their battery while driving. It depends on the make and model of your EV, and you should double-check your charging requirements before selecting a charging station.
The future of EVs in Hong Kong
EVs play a vital role in reducing our reliance on petrol, which is a finite resource. They also provide a convenient and reliable means of transportation. As more and more EVs take to the roads of Hong Kong, EV chargers and charging stations are more important than ever, to ensure these vehicles can be used. As the city – and the world at large – makes a transition to cleaner and more sustainable transportation, EVs are on the rise, and switching to this greener option can make a difference both in your personal life and in your business operations.