Electric Vehicle Charger Maintenance Basics
Are you thinking about putting an electric vehicle (EV) charger in your garage, adding additional chargers to your company’s parking lot, or investing in commercial charging stations to meet the rising demand for EVs? If so, you need to think about more than the upfront cost of installing an EV charger. You should consider the money and effort spent on electric vehicle charger maintenance.
There is no easy equation to calculate this cost since the expenses of installing and maintaining an electric vehicle charging station vary depending on the charger’s location and frequency of use. Also, the charger station’s projected costs and maintenance will depend on the charging level and whether or not it is networked.
This article will go over some common questions about EV charger maintenance. You’ll learn some basic information about EV charging stations and, most importantly, how maintenance varies between different types of chargers.
What is the life of an EV Charger?
Unfortunately, because electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) units are relatively new technology, there is little concrete data on their longevity or average maintenance expenses.
We know that industry experts predict the expected charger lifespan to be approximately ten years. External factors cause the most damage to electric car chargers. During the hot, wet, and humid summer months, charger damage is greatest. The best thing you can do to prolong your EV charger’s life is to maintain it regularly.
The US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalition’s research and assistance provide recommendations on EVSE maintenance. According to these recommendations, non-networked Level 1 and 2 charging stations require less maintenance, while networked, or “Smart,” EVSE stations will require extra maintenance. Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule of the EVSE will prolong its lifespan.
Here is the U.S. Department of Energy’s recommendations for each level:
Level 1 and Level 2 Chargers:
- Replace the commercial-grade electrical outlet every few years.
- Protect the charging wire from damage.
- Examine all accessible EVSE components for wear and tear regularly.
- Use a moist towel and mild detergent to clean the unit.
- Ensure the unit is de-energized before servicing any electrical parts.
For networked L1 and L2 chargers, you will need to hire technicians to troubleshoot any issues and consider the costs of manual software resets.
Level 1 and 2 devices do not have cooling systems, filters, or other components that need regular maintenance like Superchargers or Level 3 DC Fast Charging (DCFC) chargers. With that being said, fast chargers require more maintenance. The US Department of Energy recommends developing a warranty and service plan that meets your objectives and uses with your provider.
How often does an EV Charging Station Require Maintenance?
Again, there is no single, easy answer to this question. However, while actual maintenance costs vary depending on several factors, industry experts advise budgeting around $400 per charger each year for upkeep. Many EV charger networks now provide a package covering general maintenance for an extra yearly charge.
General charger maintenance may include:
- Replacement of the charging cable or other components due to unintentional damage or vandalism
- Replacement of the device itself after about ten years
Construction and future EV charger repair expenses must be considered when installing a new charging station. Let’s go over the differences in charger station maintenance for different types of EV charging stations:
Level 1, Non-networked Chargers:
Level 1 EV chargers are standard in private dwellings and are usually used for personal use. Generally, the maintenance on these types of chargers is low. The US Department of Energy recommends regularly changing the commercial-grade electric outlet into which the device is fitted, costing around $100.
Level 2, Non-networked Chargers:
Level 2 EV chargers are standard in private dwellings and public charging stations. L2 charging stations are more prone to component failure than privately owned L1 chargers because of their size and complexity. Additionally, chargers located at public stations will likely require additional care due to frequent usage.
The aspects affecting the charger’s condition and need for repair include whether or not it is covered to protect it from external factors such as the weather and the climate. You should regularly clean these charging units with a moist cloth and inspect any accessible parts for wear and tear.
Level 3 Chargers:
Superchargers and DCFC stations will require more EV charger maintenance and repair over time. The intricacy of these devices causes them to have much more upkeep compared to Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.
Superchargers and DCFC stations, unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations, require filters, cooling systems, and other complex hardware that need routine maintenance. Therefore, owners and operators of Level 3 charging stations should create a service schedule with manufacturers before installation, as the level of maintenance required varies by location and projected use.
Networked charging stations are part of an infrastructure system of linked chargers. These units have additional electrical components such as touchscreens, buttons, and credit card processing software. Therefore these units may require other maintenance and repairs over time.
An electrician can resolve most networked EV charging station issues. However, you should ensure that your electrician has competence with EV charger maintenance. Frequent technical debugging and manual system resets may also be needed.
How do I know if my EV Station Requires Maintenance?
Here are a few ways to tell if your EV charging station requires maintenance or repair:
Visible external damage
EV charging stations are vulnerable to external damages, whether it be due to weather and climate, vandalism, or other factors. Public charging stations are more prone to external damages due to frequent usage.
These external issues can lead to problems that cause the charger to work improperly or not work at all. Regularly clean and inspect external parts of the EV charging station to find any issues that need to be repaired.
Level 1 chargers operate at 120V. This should supply an average of 1.4 kW. Level 2 chargers operate at 240V, providing 6.2 to 7.6 kW. Level 3 chargers use DC power for faster charging times and supply between 50 and 350 kW. These averages depend on the charging capabilities of the EV.
If your charger output is lower than the charger level’s correlating average, then it is likely that your charger needs repair.
Level 1 charges take between 11 and 20 hours, whereas Level 2 chargers require between 4 and 10 hours to charge completely. A Level 3 charger can fully charge vehicles in 30 minutes to an hour and a half.
Low voltage can lead to slow charging. However, other factors, like cold weather, can also reduce charging times. Therefore, it’s worth looking into whether or not your charging station may need repair if it is charging EVs slower than usual.
General maintenance schedule
While the charging station may not show signs of needing repair, it is a good idea to be proactive and get your EV charging stations maintained according to a recommended maintenance schedule.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for your charging stations. If you are enrolled in a maintenance plan through your charger’s network, check what it covers regarding regular repair and maintenance.
Networked vs. Non-networked Chargers
Non-networked chargers that do not have Internet connectivity are the most basic. This means you can’t gather statistics, track issues, balance loads during high demand, or charge consumers a fee for connecting.
On the contrary, networked charging stations are part of an infrastructure system of linked chargers connected remotely to a broader network. As a result, the chargers have remote access to online management tools.
As far as maintenance goes, networked chargers have several capabilities that require several extra components on the charging stations. As a result, maintenance for networked chargers is generally more expensive since an electrician usually does them and is needed more frequently.
EV Charging Levels
Before installing a charger, it is crucial to know what maintenance is needed for that charger. The first step to choosing an EV charger for your home or public space and understanding its maintenance requirements is to know the differences between the different types of charger levels:
Level 1 Chargers
L1 chargers plug into a standard 120-volt AC outlet, one that your dryer may be plugged into, and supply 1.3 to 2.4 kW of power. This is the slowest charging level. It might take up to 24 hours to completely charge an electric vehicle battery. These are commonly found in private residences and used by consumers who don’t use their EVs daily.
Level 2 Chargers
L2 chargers operate at 208 to 240 volts and generate 3 to 19 kW of AC power. A typical EV takes 4 to 10 hours to charge. However, because of the different charging capabilities of EVs, the results may vary depending on the charger and the EV. You can find these types of chargers in both private and public dwellings.
Level 3 Chargers
Level 3 chargers provide the maximum power output at 350 kW. Level 3 charging, unlike Level 1 and Level 2, uses direct current (DC). They can charge an EV battery to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes and 100% in 60 to 90 minutes. Because of the cost of these chargers, they are unlikely to be found outside of a public charging station.
Are you looking at installing a charging station that is faster than a Level 1? Check out our past article discussing the differences between L2 and L3 chargers.
Most Known EV Charging Station Companies
ClipperCreek provides charging solutions for home, business, workplace, and fleet use. They also offer helpful resources like their EVSE Selector Tool, which helps you choose the best charging station for your EV, and the EVSE Installer Database, which can assist you in finding a qualified electrician for EVSE installations.
Check out this resource for more information about well-known charging station companies.
Best app for Finding EV Charging Stations
Preparation and knowledge are vital to maintaining your EV charging station. The same can be said about charging your EV on the go. Check out these apps to find stations to charge up while you are out and about.
The ChargePoint app helps EV drivers identify charging outlets on the fly. ChargePoint solutions and other major charging networks include station information, instructions, and helpful information.
PlugShare’s map of over 440,000 electric vehicle charging stations can help you find EV charging stations near you. Tips on setting, reviews, and images from the electric vehicle community are included.
Need to charge your vehicle overnight while you’re out of town? EV Hotels is a one-stop-shop app for finding hotels with electric vehicle charging stations.
Open Charge Map
Open Charge Map is the world’s most extensive electric car charging points inventory. Use this app to discover charging stations anywhere around the globe, upload images, rate, comment, and suggest new charging stations.
Charger stations vary greatly, from their price, charging times, and maintenance. The best thing you can do is be proactive about maintaining and repairing your charger station to extend its lifespan.
This guide is a great start to having a deeper understanding of maintaining your charging station. Be sure to read up on your charging station and ask your manufacturer about their maintenance recommendations and programs. Also, be sure to check out 365 Pronto pieces on other EV-related topics!
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