E-Charging Station or Wallbox: Smart Charging Solutions for Your E-Car

January 6, 2022
  1. E-charging stations are ecologically and economically reasonable
  2. Household socket or e-charging station?
  3. Safer, faster and smoother charging
  4. Charging power, charging plug and additional functions
  5. How the charging station or wallbox charges your car
  6. How much does an e-charging station cost?
  7. Are there subsidies for e-charging stations?
  8. What condominium owners must bear in mind

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.

E-charging stations are ecologically and economically reasonable

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.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

A wallbox is an e-charging station permanently mounted on the wall. The terms e-charging station and wallbox are often used synonymously.

E-Charging Station

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Household socket or e-charging station?

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.

Safer, faster and smoother charging

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.

Wall-mounted e-charging stations, so-called wallboxes, are widely used in private garages and carports.

Charging power, charging plug and additional functions

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:

  • The charging power ranges from 3.7 to 22 kW, depending on the e-car model and the charger (on-board charger). The charging time depends on the charger, charging station and charging cable. The component with the lowest power determines the total power and thus the charging time. For example, if the charger has an output of 3.7 kW, it will only charge at 3.7 kW, even if the charging station is designed for faster charging outputs. You can easily calculate the charging time: Battery capacity/charging power = charging time.
  • In Europe, the three-phase type-2 charging plugs are the standard connection for normal charging with alternating current. Some older Asian and American car models still use type 1 plugs. Therefore, be sure to check for compatibility; there are no adapters. You are fully flexible with a type 2 socket, to which a mode 3 charging cable can also be connected.
  • You can expand intelligent charging stations with additional functions. As already mentioned, it makes sense to connect them to a photovoltaic installation. If you charge several e-cars at the same time, integration into a load management system is worth considering. And if the charging station is accessible to the public, you should protect access with a key or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) so that only authorised persons can charge their e-car and you can charge them correctly.

How the charging station or wallbox charges your car

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.

E-charging station: Charging cable connects charger in the car with the E-charging station
The charging time depends on the charger, charging station and charging cable. The component with the lowest power determines the total power. 

How much does an e-charging station cost?

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:

  • How far is the fuse box from the parking space and thus from the e-charging station?
  • Is it necessary to break through a wall or dig a cable duct in the ground?
  • Can the charging station be permanently mounted on the wall or does it need a stand?
  • Can existing cables be used or do new cables have to be laid?
Houzy Advice

Good to know

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.

Houzy Hint

Tip

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.

Are there subsidies for e-charging stations?

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.

What condominium owners must bear in mind

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.

Do you drive an electric car and would you rather charge it at home than at a public charging station? Our network can provide you with qualified electricians from your region who will advise you independently regarding suppliers and products as well as professionally install the right e-charging station for you.

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