AC or DC charging: what is the difference, and which is best for your business?

AC or DC charging: what is the difference, and which is best for your business?

AC or DC? We’re on the highway to ... two different charging methods. Of course, electric vehicles are charged with electricity, but there are different types. In a nutshell, AC charge points charge EVs slower than DC charge points. But how do they work? And what is the best type of charge point for your business?

Electricity comes in two forms: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Mains electricity is AC, which is perfectly suitable for lamps, TVs, ovens and so forth, but not for devices with batteries, as these need DC.

For example, smartphones and laptops get their direct current from chargers. These chargers contain devices – often called converters or adapters – that convert alternating current from the power socket into direct current. This is then stored in the device’s battery, ready for use.

Electric vehicles also need direct current, and therefore converters, to charge their batteries. The main difference between AC and DC charging is the location where the alternating current is converted into direct current.

Standard charge points: AC charging

AC charge points send mains electricity to your electric vehicle via the charging cable. Your EV’s built-in inverter converts that alternating current to direct current and feeds it into the battery. The time this takes will depend on the type of charge point, your electricity connection, and the inverter’s capacity. Obviously, the process is slower with lighter inverters than with heavier units. For example, there are EVs with 11 kW inverters that allow recharging up to 65 km every hour. Inverters of 22 kW can recharge up to 125 km per hour.

Fast chargers: DC charging

Fast chargers or DC charge points do not use your EV’s inverter. That’s because such a device is built into the charge point itself. Charging is faster because the charge point already delivers direct current. The charging cable sends the correct current directly to the EV’s battery.

Fast chargers also come with inverters in all sizes and weights: from capacities of 50 kW to an impressive 350 kW. Although the actual charging speed depends on various factors, the following is worth mentioning as a comparison:

it will take standard charge points on average 4 hours to recharge by 50%, whereas this will take fast chargers 20 minutes on average.

DC chargers work most efficiently and fastest when your battery percentage is between 20% and 80%. To avoid damaging your battery, they charge more slowly at lower and at higher percentages.

A significant difference in cost price

Do you want to know more about the different AC or DC charge points brands and their specifications? We would be happy to help.

AC charging is slower but cheaper DC charging is faster but more expensive
AC charging uses the vehicle’s inverter. This is a time-consuming process, so charging is slower. On the plus side, AC charge points are relatively compact and inexpensive devices with low connection costs, and are suitable for just about any electrical connection. This means that both the purchase price and the charging rates are much lower than for fast chargers. Therefore, AC charge points are the most common at EV drivers’ homes, at companies, and at public charge points. DC charging uses the charge point’s inverter. This means that you save time when charging, but the investment is considerably higher. It is a much larger unit – about the size of a refrigerator – because the inverter has to fit inside. The inverter and its maintenance will also cost money. Moreover, fast chargers require more mains electricity capacity, requiring heavier power connections. Therefore, the extra comfort of quick charging comes at higher purchase and charging prices.

Kies je voor je bedrijf AC- of DC-laadpalen? Of een combinatie?

Will you opt for AC or DC charge points for your business? Or a combination?

If your company switches to electric vehicles, you should let your employees use charge points instead of regular power outlets, also at their homes. It is safer and up to eight times faster. In most cases, AC charge points are the best option –not only because they are cheaper, but also because heavier, fast chargers are often unnecessary.

If your employees spend several hours a day at the office, their EVs will have plenty of time to charge. Similarly, sales staff, couriers or technicians, who need to travel up to 300 kilometres in a particular region every day, can get on the road fully charged every morning if they plug in their vehicles after work at home or your company’s site.

Fast chargers can add value for your company if your employees regularly have to recharge at short notice. For example, it makes more sense to use DC charge points for vehicles that are used several shifts in a row. Very heavy electric vehicles, such as trucks, also have more robust battery packs. They cannot be recharged quickly at AC charge points.

Therefore, the right type of charge point for your company depends on your activities and your employees’ charging needs. For example, fleet and facility managers are increasingly supplementing their standard range of on-site AC charge points with one DC charge point.

Need help making a choice? You can count on MobilityPlus. Our advice is always 100% independent of brand and energy type, and covers a wide range of smart charge points from all top European charger brands.