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Charging Technology

How to Reduce Costs with Predictive EV Charger Maintenance

By

Connor Tariche

December 21, 2022

When it comes to EV chargers, it’s not a question of if something will go wrong, but when.

Like all heavily used electrical equipment, EV chargers require maintenance from time to time. Physical wear and tear and component failure are the most common problems that arise.

A broken EV charger can cause problems, especially if you run a busy EV fleet. EV charger downtime can cause both a loss of revenue and reputation.

It’s important to know what can go wrong, so you can act before system failure occurs. Then, you can allocate a budget to assess and maintain your EV charger operations properly. 

In this article, we’ll focus on Level 3 chargers. We’ll look at ways to identify problems before they occur and how to carry out predictive maintenance on your EV chargers.

A brief description of Level 3 chargers

Level 3 chargers are also known as DC fast chargers. In other words, they convert AC power to DC power, which enables rapid charging of electric vehicles.

For comparison purposes, on average: 

  • Level 1 chargers (AC) take between 11 and 20 hours to deliver a full charge
  • Level 2 chargers (AC) take between 4 to 10 hours
  • Level 3 chargers (DC) take between 30 minutes to 1.25 hours.

Due to the higher usage turnover (plugging in and unplugging the charger), Level 3 chargers will wear more quickly than the other types.

A typical Level 3 charger has a warranty of between 1 to 3 years and the average lifecycle is 10 years or 3,000 charging cycles.

Common problems with Level 3 chargers

Level 3 chargers are prone to the following faults:

  • Broken connector clip – due to high usage, the mechanical connector clip can become worn and eventually break.
  • Cable degradation – for outside chargers, the cable is exposed to the elements and can become worn quickly, especially in environments that experience extreme temperature changes.
  • Filter replacement – as with all high-power electrical systems, EMC filters need to be fitted to EV chargers to prevent electromagnetic disturbance and make them safer to use. EMC filters need to be replaced periodically.
  • Cooling system upkeep – fast chargers need liquid cooling systems and fans to prevent overheating and subsequent damage to the charging system. The cooling system needs to be maintained regularly to prevent blockages in the pipes or fans.
  • Power modules – the power module is the beating heart of a Level 3 charger as it converts AC to DC power.
  • Connectivity problems
  • Card reader failure – card readers may be damaged by extreme weather conditions or vandalism.

How to minimize EV Charger problems

The problems listed above can all be managed by taking a predictive maintenance approach. In other words, EV charging station owners will benefit from taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. 

Below are some tips on how to plan and implement a predictive maintenance strategy for your EV chargers.

  • Set a budget – One of the first things you should do is decide how much you are willing to (or can afford) to spend on proactively maintaining your EV chargers. The US Department of Energy suggests setting aside around $400 for each charger over the course of a year, which allows for the purchase of new parts once their warranty has expired.
  • Apply smart charging software – It is important to ensure that your charger is following charger profile commands.
  • Track equipment data – Use a network provider that can track equipment data such as:
    • Utilization data
    • Temperature
    • Voltage
    • Whether the charger is following the smart charging profile commands.OCPP1.6J makes all of this data available to network providers. Therefore, it is the network provider’s job to develop the proper tools to track and aggregate these data points within their charge management system.
  • Implement a data-driven maintenance schedule – Use the collected data to replace equipment and components before they break during planned maintenance. This will help to avoid charger downtime and fleet disruption.

How can you track these data points?

Smart charging systems make it easy to track all the data you need to implement a predictive maintenance strategy. 

Ampcontrol is an industry leading CMS (charging management system) that easily connects to any OCPP-compliant charger.

In the Ampcontrol dashboard, you’ll be able to see real-time data so you can accurately monitor the condition and performance of your EV chargers. Built-in analytics alert you to any anomalies, such as any sudden reduction in power, allowing you to take action to rectify the problem.

To find out more about Ampcontrol, go ahead and book a demo.

EV Charging Management Made Simple

Ampcontrol is a cloud-based software that seamlessly connects to charging networks, vehicles, fleet systems, and other software systems. No hardware needed, just a one-time integration.

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