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Electric Vehicles: Understanding the Terminology

The vocabulary used in electric vehicles, which includes both colloquial and technical terms, can be puzzling and perplexing to those who are not familiar with it. Understanding what these phrases signify will help you choose which EV is best for you as well as whether an EV is the appropriate choice for you. Do you, for instance, care how quickly your automobile fills up with gas? No, however in order to take advantage of home charging, you’ll need to know how quickly your house and automobile can recharge a battery. However, by understanding the concepts used in the Cars.com EV glossary, we can help you get close.

alternating current (AC)

the form electricity takes in homes, other buildings, and the grid

Electrons frequently change direction when an alternating current is present.

The charging module, a secret component in every EV, manages the charging rate as well as this function during Level 1 and Level 2 charging. Public DC fast charging eliminates the onboard charging module, which acts as a choke point for current flow, by using an external charger that feeds DC directly to the vehicle’s battery. The DC fast charger begins with a voltage that is nearly double that of a typical home and externally rectifies the AC using larger components than a car could hold. These two factors allow DC charging to be so much quicker than Level 2 charging.

Because the current changes direction 60 times per second in the United States, it is called alternating current. It’s challenging to understand what this even implies, and it becomes much more perplexing when you realize that, technically speaking, the current reverses when it moves from positive to negative in the same conductor. However, AC has advantages over DC, including low transmission losses over long distances and the ability to change voltage with the use of transformers.

Ironically, the majority of electric cars employ AC drive motors, thus to move the car forward, the battery’s DC must be converted back to AC, a process known as inversion. In fact, hybrid vehicles frequently employ AC motors, which results in a continual conversion of current from AC to DC or vice versa. There are energy losses involved with each time these transformations take place, whether within the car or outside.

amps

a unit of electric current that owners of electric cars are most likely to run into when setting up Level 2 home charging

Level 2 chargers give 240 volts, but the amount of power they can deliver to a car also relies on the current flow, which varies greatly among them. Voltage symbolizes the force pushing water through a pipe, and current reflects the velocity of water flow as mostly dictated by the diameter of the pipe, using the traditional plumbing analogy for electricity travelling through a wire. You can boost the pressure or the pipe’s diameter to get more water to come out of the end of the pipe. In the same way, increasing voltage or current (amperage) will result in increased power (expressed in watts) at the opposite end of the cable. Similar to the pipe, a wire with a wider diameter offers less resistance and permits more current flow.

The amount of electricity that a home can receive from the utility in amps, such as 50, 100, or 200 amps, as well as the amount of current that a specific circuit or Level 2 charger can carry, are measured in amps.

battery pack

the entirety of the power-storage system used in EVs and hybrid vehicles, comprising individual battery cells, supporting electronics, and often thermal management features.

Regardless of kind, the cells in a pack are often organized into modules, which offer structure and make replacing faulty cells easier. A battery management system is included into the packs, which maintains the pack’s level of charge and keeps track of cell voltages and temperatures. Packs are equipped with their own fuses and a method of manually detaching themselves from the rest of the vehicle for maintenance. The majority of these packs include channels through which coolant—typically a water-and-conventional-antifreeze mixture—flows before leaving the battery and being heated in either a straightforward radiator or a heat exchanger linked to an air-conditioning or heat-pump circuit.

battery cell

The smallest part of a battery pack, which may require hundreds to reach the necessary voltages for a hybrid or electric automobile

These are only capable of producing a few volts per cell, just like any other individual battery. Some EVs use cylindrical batteries, which might not seem complex because they resemble something you could put in a torch. However, Tesla seems to have gotten by quite fine with this type for the majority of its history, even if the company is currently experimenting with prismatic cells, which have shapes resembling a deck of cards or candy bar. Most other EV manufacturers have favored the pouch design, which resembles a nearly empty mylar Ziploc sandwich bag. The floppy pouch, in contrast to the other two designs, is supported by a battery module.

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