From power outages to network connectivity: what are the factors that impact the charging station from charging your EV?
An EV charging station is usually unmanned. That is because the technology behind is developed around the concept of a simple plug-in, charge and go.
Some reasons why stations do not have an attendant like petrol stations do is due to the lack of need for the station itself to have fuel tanks refilled, and a current market low volume of stations and users, and the comparative cleanliness of the charging plug which drivers do not hesitate to handle. In addition, troubleshooting of an EV charging station can partly be performed remotely, thereby reducing the purpose of a physical technician on site 24/7.
Mechanisms are put in place such that it is safe for drivers to use the charging station even when the charger is exposed to the elements.
For example, it is unlikely to have sparks flying out of the connecter when you unplug because the connector would be locked in the car’s charging port, and you would be unable to pull out the connector before a charging session is complete, which will then cease the flow of electrons.
Yet despite the lack of need for operators to keep their charging stations manned, there are reports of user complaints about chargers not properly charging EVs.
Some problems you might face are:
• charge initiation failures
• payment system failures
• network failures
• unresponsive charging station touchscreens
• broken connectors
Here are several reasons why a charging station might not be charging your EV
No data connection
The charging station may be unable to connect to the network, which could be caused by a variety of issues such as network congestion, signal interference, or a problem with the charging station's communication hardware.
EV charging stations located in the basement of buildings sometimes suffer connectivity issues due to the inability of signals penetrating concrete or reinforced walls or intermittent speeds and reliability in rural areas and dead zones.
In-car smart charging mode activated
EVs have a smart charging mode to allow owners to optimize their charging process. Depending on the car make and model, the smart charging mode enables the vehicle to adjust the charging rate based on factors such as the vehicle's battery level, electricity demand, and time of use pricing.
If an electric vehicle is not being charged, it could be due to the smart charging mode being activated to prevent overcharging and potential damage to the battery. Additionally, if the charging station is experiencing high demand for electricity, the smart charging mode may adjust the charging rate of the car to prevent overloading the charging station and causing a power outage.
With reference to a Tesla, most Tesla models are designed with a 'deep sleep' mode which will kick in if the car does not receive any signals for certain period. As a result, the car in ‘deep sleep’ will not be able to receive start/stop charging signals. In addition, in the event the ‘scheduled departure’ feature has been activated, the EV will also not be able to go into a charging session should attempts of initiation be made outside of the car charging schedule.
In some cases, the charging station may not be working because of user error. Some possible user errors that could prevent an electric car owner from charging their vehicle at a charging station are:
1) Incorrectly connecting the charging cable: One common user error is not connecting the charging cable correctly to the EV. This could mean not plugging in the connector securely or not aligning the connector properly into the car charging port.
2) Not activating the charging session: EV charging stations require users to activate the charging session before they can start charging their vehicle. If a user forgets to activate the session, the charging station will not start charging.
3) Not selecting the correct charging rate: Depending on the EV and the charging station, there may be different charging rates available. If a user selects the wrong charging rate, the charging station may not work.
4) Using the wrong charging adapter: If the user has an electric car port that is incompatible with the charging station, they may not be able to charge their vehicle.
5) Insufficient funds on the charging account: Many EV charging apps require users to have a charging account with sufficient funds to cover the cost of the charging session. If the user does not have enough funds, the charging session will not start.
Damaged charging cable
A damaged cable can cause safety concerns, disrupt the physical connection between the charging station and the electric vehicle, and cause interruptions in the charging session. Sometimes, drivers can cause occasional physical damage to the charging plugs by excessively-pulling or driving over the cables. If the cable is damaged in any way, it affects the communication between the car and the hardware, and the charging station may not be able to communicate with the vehicle to initiate a charging session. It may also affect the flow of energy going to the car, resulting in a premature end to the charging session.
In severe cases, damaged cables may not even be able to make a secure physical connection with the electric vehicle, preventing power from being delivered to the vehicle.
A user prior pressed the emergency stop button
If a user has pressed the emergency stop button on a charging station, the station will immediately stop charging and shut down. This is a safety feature designed to protect the driver and the charging station from any potential hazards.
Once the emergency stop button is pressed, the charging station will need to be manually reset before it can be used again. This typically involves an electrician or qualified technician accessing the charging station and resetting the safety systems.
It is important to note that the emergency stop button should only be used in case of an emergency or safety issue, such as a fire or electrical hazard. Using the emergency stop button for any other reason, such as to stop a charging session that is taking too long, is an improper use of the button and can cause unnecessary inconvenience to other drivers.
A charging station may not be functioning due to a power outage in the area. This could be caused by a variety of factors, such as inclement weather, equipment failure, or maintenance work on the power grid.
Like any software, charging station software can have bugs or coding errors that cause malfunctions. These errors can be caused by issues such as incorrect programming, conflicts between different software components or even user errors, such as improper usage of the system or incorrect data input.
The software also relies on a network connection to communicate with the charging station and other systems. If there are connectivity issues, such as network outages, software malfunctions can occur.
Charging station software relies on firmware updates to keep the system up-to-date and functioning properly. By nature of the infrastructure, these updates can be performed remotely. However, if the user has coincided with a firmware update, and any ongoing charging sessions or attempts to initiate the charging session might get interrupted or fail.
These are just a few possible reasons that could prevent an electric car owner from charging their vehicle at a charging station. The issues range from an error code in the station’s software, wear and tear on the wires, to internet signal problems.
Sometimes, the problem is as mundane as a ripped QR code sticker, which drivers scan to access the charging system.
It's important for EV drivers to carefully read the instructions provided by the charging station and follow best practices to ensure a smooth and efficient charging experience.