Chargers come in many shapes.
Systems for charging is plentiful, because of late standardization efforts.
What are the systems?
What do the different systems do? How complex is it to charge a car?
The charging is made a bit complex due to the way the batteries are built. There will be some risk involved with all electrical systems, with the case of current batteries charging incorrectly can damage the batteries or even cause a fire. For these reasons the chargers need to communicate with the batteries management system. This communication is done over one of two standards : PLC and CAN. Deeper knowledge of these systems are not necessary for the owner but here is a short description of the two:
CAN is a data protocol used between components inside cars, also required in some heavier vehicles for diagnostic systems, this is also used for emissions testing.
PLC is part of the smart grid protocols. This is used for smart meters when using solar cells and getting paid back for doing so, called feed-in tariff. A version is also used by power companies who use it provide internet to their customers.
As you can see from the description using CAN is very little work for many car manufacturers, since they already use it for control of electronic systems in other types of cars. However PLC is used for the smart grid and can be used when you allow you parked car to be used for stabilizing the grid.
It is possible to get paid for allowing your car battery discharge by the local system!
Available systems are due to the rapid development from different car manufacturers, a little messy. Let us start with connectors:
Four different ones,
CHadeMO Japanese standard, adopted in Europe in many places.
GB/T The Chinese standard
Combo1 US combined standard.
Combo2,CCS European standard.
The first two uses the CAN signalling which is not compatible with smart grid applications, the second two does support smart grid (protocol is PLC!) making it valuable for more advanced uses.
Looking at a European CCS plug you will see 7 pins plus the two large ones below for DC charging. The ChadeMO standard needed two plugs and cables.
As you can see, there are two types of charging. What does this mean?
Your car’s battery needs DC, direct current, meaning one cable is plus the other is minus. This is the nature of a battery, which you have noticed when you plugged your batteries in the remote the wrong way around. Nothing works! Was it just me who have done that? But I digress.
Your power outlet is AC, meaning plus and minus is not fixed. To handle this we need an adaptor, you probably have one for your laptop, which converts AC to DC. In modern electric cars there are already such adaptors built in but they can not handle very high loads so a DC connector has been introduced to put in the charging stations. Lowering cost and weight of the vehicle.
Happy and safe days to you all!