What is DC Fast Charging?
DC Fast charging, also known as Level 3 charging is the quickest way to charge electric vehicles (EVs).
DC fast charging stations are high-powered stations, which significantly shorten the charging time for EVs. The DC refers to direct current, which allows for a charging process with fewer energy losses at high charging powers. And “Fast charging” refers to the speed at which the battery of electric vehicles is charged.
Fast charging helps a lot by addressing one of the major concerns of electric mobility – range anxiety.
DC Fast Charging – The solution to range anxiety
Over the last two years, we’ve conducted a survey on our website, asking EV owners about the improvements they wanted to see. The unanimous priority was to extend the vehicle’s range.
Range anxiety refers to the fear drivers experience about their vehicle’s battery running out of power before reaching their destination or a charging point. And fast Charging, providing over 50kW of charging power, is a solid answer to this problem. Although the range is not extended, the charging process is accelerated and comes a lot closer to conventional refueling than the common charging of EVs.
There are even prototype stations, backed by cutting-edge research, that allow for a maximum power output of up to 400kW. And this could drastically enhance the adoption of electric vehicles.
We’ve personally tested DC fast charging stations multiple times, and we can’t emphasize enough how convenient and time-saving they are.
How long does it take to charge an EV at a DC fast charging station?
Charging your vehicle at a DC Fast Charging station typically takes between 20 minutes and 1 hour on average.
This can vary depending on the capacity of the battery, the power output of the station, and the charging curve.
The charging curve refers to the rate at which the battery can store energy, which will usually slow down as the battery reaches its full capacity to avoid overheating. This is known as power reduction, and it often results in the last 20% taking longer than the first 80%.
Please find below a comprehensive infographic explaining how the charging curve works.
In most cases, you can have a break, go for a snack or a coffee, and when you come back, your EV is ready to hit the road again.
Why is charging power reduced during charging?
Power reduction is used to protect the battery of the EV from overheating, which could cause battery degradation and reduce its lifespan. Most electric vehicles are equipped with a Battery Management System (BMS) which monitors the battery’s temperature and will reduce the power output if it gets too hot. This is referred to as tapering.
After conducting extensive research, it’s clear that slowing down the charging speed ensures the longevity and safety of the EV’s battery. Therefore, power reduction is not a limitation but a protective feature integral to the efficient functioning of an electric vehicle.
Fast-charging wireless charging stations
High-powered wireless charging is still under development, and although it will likely become a viable option for EV owners, the power output will not be as great as the one from DC fast charging stations.
We’ve been closely following the advancements in this area and experts predict that wireless charging will soon become an efficient option for electric vehicle owners.
Is DC Fast Charging bad for electric cars?
Frequent use of Fast Charging can have a minor effect on battery longevity, but modern EVs have BMSs that help ease this issue. Even so, external factors like climate can still play a role, and it is important to keep the battery temperature in a safe range. For this reason, we advise paying attention to temperature management, particularly in regions experiencing extreme weather conditions.
Again here, based on our conversations with EV owners and industry experts, the impact on battery health is minimal when fast charging is used responsibly and in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines.
Price for DC Fast Charging
While fast charging offers greater convenience, this often comes at a higher price. Many charging infrastructures price their fast charging stations higher than regular ones due to the increased power usage and related expenses. Therefore, if time is not a pressing factor, using a regular charging station can be a cost-effective alternative. We have personally compared pricing across different charging networks and found that planning charging sessions in advance can help save money.
Finding DC Fast Charging stations
Smartphone apps and online platforms provide real-time data about nearby charging stations and their availability, power output, and pricing. From our own experience, we highly recommend using these tools to plan your charging stops effectively and ensure a seamless charging experience. Feel also free to check out our EV charging stations map.
EV Home charging stations and DC Fast Charging
EV home chargers typically provide Level 2 AC charging, which is faster than a regular household outlet but slower than DC fast charging stations. However, some companies offer residential DC fast charging solutions, but they require more installation and cost more. Since most owners charge during the night, the charging speed at home is not as crucial as it is on a long road trip.
Fast charging is a key factor in the adoption of electric vehicles, and it offers convenience and reduces range anxiety. However, consumers should be aware of the cost and battery health implications when using this technology. We suggest using regular charging as a default and fast charging in cases, where the charging time is essential.