100 Questions about Electric Vehicles

By David Herron

Last Update: December 7, 2019

Just as a cell phone requires a charging cord, an electric car or motorcycle requires a specialized charging cord. Even though electricity is everywhere, and we plug all kinds of things into regular power outlets every day, the powers-that-be decided to require a specialized charging cord for electric vehicles. There are clear technical reasons for this, and the requirement to use an electric car charging station is not a burden.
J1772 charging station a.k.a. EVSE

Basically - to charge any electric vehicle (electric car, electric motorcycle, etc) we need "Electric Vehicle Service Equipment" (a.k.a. EVSE). EVSE's are also called a Charging Station. We see above a typical EVSE.

This EVSE is designed to plug into a regular power outlet - a NEMA 6-50 outlet that is rated for 40 amps continuous and 240 volts. That connector is at the bottom of the EVSE. To the left is the charging cord, and the J1772 connector that plugs-in to the car.

Hence an EVSE mediates between the electric vehicle and a regular power outlet.

Similarly when charging a cell phone we do not plug it directly into a wall outlet. Instead we use a USB charging cord along with a USB charging outlet, such as a USB charging hub.

This is an example for the equivalent equipment required to charge a cell phone. It plugs into a regular power outlet, and has 10 USB ports, with the ability to deliver 120 Watts of charging power. Charging a cell phone then requires a USB charging cord to complete the picture.

This charging hub serves the same purpose as the EVSE serves for an electric car. Both mediate between the power outlet and the device being charged. For a USB device like a cell phone, it delivers DC electricity at 5 volts and up to 2 amps per port through a USB Type A outlet. For an EVSE like the one pictured here, it delivers single phase AC electricity at around 240 volts up to 40 amps, and is capable of doing so for hours on end.

Why is a specialized charging cord required? See: Why is a special charging cord (J1772) required to charge an electric car?

In addition to the EVSE a suitable power outlet is required. For a discussion of installing an electric car charging station at home, see: How to plan for and install 240 volt circuit to charge an electric car/vehicle?

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.
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