To date, most DC quick charging stations have been large, freestanding behemoths that require not only a fair bit of real estate for their installation but easy access to a three-phase industrial power supply. They’ve also come with a price tag that can be as much as the cars they’re meant to be charging.
But now German electronics giant Siemens is changing that with the unveiling of a brand-new wall-mounted DC quick charging station for electric cars that is not only smaller and easier to install but can even be powered from a suitably powerful single-phase supply.
The catch? Instead of being a 50 kilowatt CHAdeMO or CCS quick charging station, the new Siemens QC24S maxes out at a total of 24 kilowatts, meaning an empty to 80-percent full charge will take well under an hour, rather than the 30 minutes touted by most units in the wild today.
Why less than an hour despite having half the power? While most public charging stations today are rated at 50 kilowatts, most electric cars will taper off the power requested of a DC quick charger as their battery packs fill up. As the battery approaches 80 percent full, the charging speed slows down to less than 10 kilowatts.
Therefore, although a 50 kilowatt charging station will recharge a battery pack from empty to 20 percent full far more quickly than a 24 kilowatt charging station, the time difference between the two charging stations when the battery pack is 50 percent full or more is only a few minutes.
Due to be officially unveiled at the GreenFleet Scotland event later this week, the QC24S can be ordered with either a CHAdeMO charge connector or a CCS charging connector. While that might mean anyone ordering one will have to choose between one or the other standard (or perhaps order one of each), the new lightweight wall-mounted unit is great news for commercial operators looking to make the switch from gasoline to electric for their fleet.
Alongside the small wall-mounted footprint, the new charging station comes with optional cloud-based technology which should make it easier for large charging providers to keep track of a charging station’s current status and health remotely, and even offers a new loop-detector circuit that enables a charging station to know when someone is parked in the charging bay — even if it’s not being used.
But while its higher-tech features may excite some in the plug-in charging network world, we’re more interested in the technical characteristics of the units. Measuring just 1000 x 360 x 500 mm (39.4 x 14.2 x 19.7 inches) the 60 kilogram (132 pound) charging station can operate in either indoor or outdoor environments at a sound level barely louder than your average domestic refrigerator. And while Siemens hasn’t confirmed it will be selling the unit to domestic customers, it can be operated in Europe from a three-phase, 400-volt, 37-amp power supply or a 111-amp, 230-volt, single-phase power supply.
In the U.S. meanwhile, it can be operated on a three-phase, 208-volt, 71 amp power supply, or a 240-volt, 106-amp power supply, although we should note that the figures quoted here are based on the unit’s draft rather than final technical capabilities. While the figures above are for maximum 24-kilowatt output, it’s also possible to tweak the unit to output less power in cases where the full 25.5 kVA of required input power is not available.
Of course, this isn’t the first lower-powered quick charging station we’ve seen. Last July, BMW unveiled its own i-branded wall-mounted CCS quick charger, which also had a maximum power output of 24 kilowatts DC. Other companies too — like Japanese-firm Nichicon — offer their own low-powered DC quick charging solutions, although we’ve yet to see any in the wild.
What excites us most about this new unit from Siemens however, is the potential avenues that it opens up for future expansion of DC quick charging beyond the traditional locations of dealerships, big-box stores and rest stops. Although we’ve yet to confirm the price of these units, we’re hoping they come in somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000, making them far more affordable and cost-effective to install, dramatically reducing the break-even point for anyone offering free or ‘per-use’ electric car charging.
For those lucky enough to have the spare capacity at home and the spare cash to buy a unit, it could even open up the possibility of one-hour home charging when required, perfect for those who find themselves faced with an unexpected trip and a low battery pack.
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