What it takes to build a high performance fast Electric Vehicle Charger: Power, Display and Embedded System

Published: 21 May 2021

What it takes to build a high performance fast Electric Vehicle Charger: Power, Display and Embedded System

We are truly at the beginning of the electric car age. With countries around the world introducing mandates to cut the number of diesel and petrol cars – including the UK with the Government’s scheduled ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 – drivers are looking towards the future dominant car technology: electric vehicles (EVs).

Electric cars are by no means a new invention, with their advent dating back to as long as their fuel counterparts. But its recent explosion in the last decade has largely been the result of two companies: Tesla and Nissan. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model 3 place the power of the EV in the hands of the everyday consumer. In the UK, there are now 245,000 pure electric Cars on the roads, along with 515,000 plug-in hybrids – and as EVs get more affordable and as charging networks grow, this rapid market growth is only going to get faster.

Deloitte forecasts that over 25.3 million pure electric vehicles will be sold by 2030. With the rise in EV use, there will be greater strains on the countries’ charging networks, and private businesses are perfectly placed to capitalise on the growing demand for public EV chargers.

Power

The first hurdle system designers will have to overcome when developing and deploying public EV chargers is the huge power requirement. Whilst bundled at-home chargers can plug straight into domestic mains to trickle charge EVs overnight, for electric vehicles to be a viable alternative to convenient fuel-powered cars, chargers will have to provide a lot of power to charge car batteries quickly.

There are three main types of EV charging stations: AC Level 1, AC Level 2 and DC fast charging. AC Level 1 chargers provide 120V charging to deliver up to 1.9kW of output power. This can also be known as a trickle or opportunity charger. These are usually the line-cord chargers that are sold with plug-in electric cars and are not commonly deployed for public use. These are a lot less costly to run, however, and for businesses like motels and parking lots where cars stay overnight, L1 chargers may be viable. For L1 stations, MORNSUN recommends their LD05-R2 series of power modules, allowing for compact and reliable EV chargers.

AC Level 2 chargers provide 240V charging to deliver anywhere from 3kW to 19kW. This translates to around 18-28 miles of range per hour of charging. This means for L2 charging stations, it takes an average of eight hours to charge an EV. To power L2 chargers, MORNSUN recommends the LS10 series of efficient AC-DC converters. Alternatives for power supplies can include ARTESYN’s LCM3000 series, offering 3kW of output power alongside simple firmware options for battery charging applications.

L2 chargers are the most prevalent type of station currently – but they do very little to advance the rollout of electric cars. This is because for many consumers, waiting eight hours for their car to charge up is simply too long compared to the five minutes it takes to fill up a petrol or diesel tank. That’s where the next ‘level’ of charger comes in.

Colloquially known as a sort of “level 3” of charging stations, Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) are designed to fill an EV battery to 90% in as low as 20 minutes. These are the types of chargers that are removing barriers to entry for EV consumers and are hugely popular, but also are infinitely more expensive to run and maintain. These charging stations can be designed to deliver up to 350kW of power.

Due to the astronomical power draw, DCFCs are only viable for high volume commercial or industrial locations like busy petrol stations adjacent to major motorways. In the US, DCFCs are the only way interstate road trips are possible, and positioning of DCFCs along key routes in Europe can have a big impact on European EV market penetration.

Other power supply solutions for EV chargers include the ARTESYN iHP – whose intuitive digital control allows for seamless management of large DCFC fleets. For advice on power components and their role in building the perfect EV charging station, get in touch with us at Components Bureau to speak to one of our expert advisers.

Displays

When designing charging stations, system creators should take into account the usability of their devices. If the last two decades of technology has shown us anything, it’s that users love to interact visually with the devices they operate.

Whilst it is possible for EV drivers to interact with their charging stations through a mixture of LED light indicators and physical buttons – for the best control and user experience, display monitors are a must for sophisticated high-tech charging stations.

Drivers want to know their charging progress, whether or not their car has been plugged in correctly and they want an estimate of how long the charge will take. A display is the most versatile I/O solution and a capacitive touchscreen is the easiest way for drivers to interact with stations. Displays open up possibilities for interconnectivity features like email and text alerts as inputting contact details or signing into an account is super simple when working with a capacitive touch display. Displays also offer a great host of possibilities for user troubleshooting. If a car has been plugged in incorrectly, prompts on how to resolve issues can help drivers get connected without the need for technical support.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy supplier of off-the-shelf display components for use in your systems, Display Technology offer a wide range of smart display solutions. For charging stations, we recommend the POS-RP-070-00-PRO CE certified 7-inch monitor from Distec.

The POS-RP uses a Raspberry Pi based control board to offer snappy and highly configurable operation. For charging stations, the 10-finger PCAP touchscreen makes it easy for drivers to use, with the added responsiveness of capacitive touch control improving usability. As charging stations will need to withstand the environmental requirements of outdoor operation, water and dust resistance is a must. Distec has designed their POS-RP to comply with the IP65 standard, whilst also building a futuristic sleek and slim housing for your display.

For ultra-premium DCFCs to rival the Tesla Superchargers, system designers can opt for a large, high-resolution display to add that next generation futuristic flair to their charging station. Display Technology offers a wide range of monitors from 15.0”- 31.5” within the POS-Line range with full HD capacitive touch display specially designed for use in public amenities

With a standard display brightness between 400-700 cd/m2, and the possibility to enhance up to 2000 cd/m2, users will have no issues viewing and interacting with the monitor in sunlight. Whilst the FHD resolution contributes to the premium ‘flair’ and improves UI aesthetics.

These displays are specially designed for system designers to adapt its software to meet the requirements of the application. Designers can flash custom firmware to these displays for full functionality and communication with the other components of a charging station.

You can browse the rest of Display Technology’s Industrial monitors at displaytechnology.co.uk, or you can get in touch with them for expert advice on display solutions.

Embedded Systems

For the most efficient charge possible, the communication between the charging components and an electric vehicle is extremely important. Handling the necessary transfer of information between the vehicle and the power components is the role of the embedded system.

One of the main roles of an embedded system in an EV charging station is the handling of power output. By varying power delivery to a vehicle, a charging station can optimise charging to manage the temperature ensuring safe operation and improve the overall charge time of the vehicle.

DCFCs handle high charging power differently to improve charge efficiency. Tesla superchargers offer high power delivery between 0-20% charge capacity whilst Audi’s chargers go for a lower, but more sustained charge power. An important role of embedded system in EV charging is cell monitoring and battery safety. Embedded systems can analyse data provided by an EV to optimise its charge and more powerful computers can use AI-enhanced modelling to better predict charge patterns.

Embedded systems can be connected to the Internet either wirelessly or through Ethernet, allowing for a multitude of online possibilities. Technicians can remotely monitor and manage their charging stations whilst Internet-enabled embedded systems can open the possibility for users to stay updated with their charge progress wherever they are through Internet progress notifications.

A powerful and robust embedded system for use in EV systems is the AXIOMTEK IFB125. This computer is powered by the Freescale i.MX6UL processor using the ARM Cortex-A7 architecture. To meet the IoT needs of EV vehicles, the IFB125 supports multiple communication interfaces include LAN, serial and USB, whilst the PCI Express Mini card slot allows for the easy installation of a WiFi card for wireless connectivity. The embedded operating system Yocto is Linux-based to improve the ease of software development.

Another embedded system positioned perfectly in the market to take advantage of AI enhancements to EV charging is the AXIOMTEK CAPA311. At the heart of this system is the Intel Atom x5-E3940. With support for up to 8GB memory, HDMI output and two full-size PCI Express Mini Card Slots, this SBC is a perfect component for a high-tech DCFC. Pairing this with a high-resolution display like the Distec POS-Line is a recipe for an excellent high-end futuristic AIoT (AI Internet of Things) EV charger.

PowerPro for Artesyn iHP

For high-end EV charging stations, system designers can benefit from digital control and device communication to create a more efficient product and provide a better usability experience for users. The ARTESYN iHP includes an optional cloud-based power management tool known as PowerPro. Here’s how the digital control afforded by Artesyn’s AE PowerPro helps EV charger designers to full realise their AIoT goals.

The AE PowerPro comes in the form of a power module for the iHP Series of modular power supplies from Artesyn. Installing the PowerPro unlocks the use of a high-level software graphical user interface to control and monitor an iHP Power Supply. PowerPro facilitates digital control through a whole slew of different industrial protocols including PMBus, RS-485 and Ethernet.

For fleets of DCFCs for EVs, technicians can remotely monitor the power parameters of iHP equipped charging stations and control most or even all of the readily accessible and configurable functions on the power supply. The GUI is held in the cloud and can be accessed on any device connected to the Internet. PowerPro can connect to and manage multiple iHP equipped systems, allowing for technicians to manage their entire deployment of EV charging stations from one location remotely. This helps EV charging providers quickly respond to faults, make tweaks to improve efficiency and gather key data for accurate reporting of system use.

A key use of the PowerPro cloud-based power management system is monitoring charging patterns. PowerPro can monitor power data in real-time and can help technicians monitor what time of the day drivers tend to use the charging station and how long they usually stay for a charge. Providers can then use this key data and PowerPro to tweak power delivery to better match the usage habits of drivers, improving the profitability of DCFCs.

The PowerPro GUI also incorporates a graphical script creation engine that allows users to write automatic scripts to execute their own custom process control routines. System designers can respond to usage patterns by executing custom control routines – resulting in a positive feedback loop between driver behaviour and power management tweaks by system designers.

For EV chargers to truly cross the mark and enter the realm of AI Internet of Things, power management, data collection and remote control is key to provide the necessary level of ‘smart’ management for serious leaps in efficiency and power performance. Next-generation cloud control of power supplies is a big step for this realised future and Artesyn iHP series from Advanced Energy is a forward-thinking power supply that is perfect to create a highly intelligent, adaptable and scalable EV charger to kickstart the electric vehicle revolution.

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