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More and more electric cars are on the road in Switzerland. In 2020, their market share among passenger cars doubled from 4 to 8 percent. On the one hand, the reason for the increase was because fewer petrol vehicles (minus 38.1 percent) and diesel vehicles (minus 34.7 percent) were registered, and on the other hand, because more plug-in hybrid vehicles (plus 225.7 percent) and pure electric vehicles (plus 49.8 percent) were newly registered (source: Federal Statistical Office FSO). The trend towards electromobility continued in 2021 and is expected to accelerate in the coming years. This will also increase the demand for e-charging stations. There are currently just under 4000 public e-charging stations in Switzerland. Experts estimate the ratio between e-charging at public charging stations and private e-charging stations at about one to four.
This means that the majority of e-car drivers charge their vehicles at home. Private e-charging stations could be connected to the normal power grid via an ordinary household socket. However, it is ecologically and economically more reasonable to combine a charging station with a photovoltaic system on the roof. Self-produced solar electricity costs you less than electricity from the grid. That's why you should consume more cheap solar electricity and less expensive electricity from your energy supplier, thus reducing your energy costs. The higher your self-consumption, the faster you will amortise a photovoltaic system. You can optimise your own consumption, for example, with a battery storage unit, an electric boiler, a heat pump - or a charging station for your e-car.
A wallbox is an e-charging station permanently mounted on the wall. The terms e-charging station and wallbox are often used synonymously.
You can charge an electric car via a household socket. If you fully charge a compact car with a 24 kWh battery, for example, it will take about ten hours. You should not do this to the socket, because the cables and transitions in the junction boxes can heat up, erode and ignite in ten hours under full charging power (2.3 kWh). The risk of cable fire increases with the age of the socket or house installation. In the best case, only a fuse blows, in the worst case, the socket or the cable melts. The charging process of an electric car is not comparable to that of household appliances. They are also connected to the mains around the clock, but consume less electricity and only draw power for a few minutes under full load.
A charging station or wallbox is safer, faster and more convenient. Safer because the electrician matches it to the charging power of the house's electrical installation and, if necessary, adjusts the electrical installation to achieve the required charging power. Faster, because the charging station communicates with the electric car and adjusts the highest possible amperage (16 amps, for example). And smoother, because you can simply take the cable out of the wall bracket and connect the car to the charging station. Without a wallbox, you would have to get the Mode 2 cable, which you should carry with you for on the road or emergencies, out of the boot every time and connect the charging station to the electric car.
When choosing a charging station, make sure that the manufacturer is approved by car manufacturers and that its wallbox is compatible with your car model. Leading charging station manufacturers regularly update their software and ensure service and spare parts supplies for years. Other important points for your choice:
As soon as you connect your e-car to a charging station or wallbox with a charging cable, the two sides exchange information and automatically recognise which power the charging cable is designed for. When the charger in the car is ready to charge, the charging station releases the charging current. If necessary, the charger throttles the power to the maximum capacity of the charging cable. Up to a certain voltage level, the car draws as much power as possible evenly, then the charger gradually reduces the power until the battery is full. Now no more current flows.
Simpler e-charging stations are available from 600 to 700 Swiss francs. If you want more than a basic model, the price will rise, depending on equipment variants and additional functions. However, you should rather leave the installation to professionals, i.e. a qualified electrician. His effort depends mainly on the situation on site, among other things:
E-charging stations need their own circuit, which is protected with a circuit breaker and residual current device (RCD). Charging stations with an integrated RCD reduce installation costs.
Set the installation for 22 kW if you have cables laid, even if that is too much at the moment. Then you won't need a new cable when you buy a car with faster charging power.
Many cantons and municipalities promote e-mobility in Switzerland. For example, with a financial subsidy for the purchase of an e-car or a tax bonus on the cantonal motor vehicle tax. Private e-charging stations are promoted in different ways. The city of Zurich, for example, pays up to 60 per cent of the installation costs or a maximum of 150 francs per kilowatt of power (lower value) for private charging infrastructures. You can find an overview of all funding programmes at www.energiefranken.ch: Enter your municipality (or postcode) in the search field, move the slider from "Buildings" to "Mobility" and search for funding programmes in the "Charging infrastructure" paragraph.
As a condominium owner, you need the consent of the co-owners for a wallbox in the shared underground car park. If the installation is only considered useful, you need the majority of votes and value quotas, if the installation is considered necessary, the majority of votes is sufficient. It is important that you clarify in advance for how many charging stations the reserve of the house connection power is sufficient and whether it could be expanded (later). If several cars are being charged at the same time, it makes sense to have an intelligent charging station that measures and optimises the load on the electricity grid. If several floor owners share a wallbox, access can be easily controlled with an RFID card and consumption can be correctly billed.