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The right charging cable is part of every electric car

An article from the magazine FLOTILA

All electric cars users deal with the issue of efficient charging. And by that we mean the questions of time, place and price. Let's take a look at one elegant solution. SECTRON sells a 16A portable charger for three-phase 400 V socket with the option to additionally purchase adaptors with the CEE 3pin plug (for camping socket) and 230 V CZ/SCHUKO. Is this solution sufficient for everyday use or is it just an emergency alternative?

We received the SECTRON portable AC charger 16 A/400 V in a practical bag with handles, which protects the cable from damage during transport or storage. The package included a manual in Czech and a wall bracket. The total length of the charger was less than 6 meters and it weighed 3 kilograms. We consider the length to be sufficient enough, because if the 400V socket is located anywhere in the garage, it was always possible to drive to the garage that way, so we could comfortably reach the charging port. When handling the charger (cable), we were surprised by the ease of operation.

The cable did not twist itself and it was easy to untangle and rewind it. The bag is big enough and the material quite resistant. We also see the advantage in the possibility of attaching the charger to the wall in the garage using the included holder. If we weren’t planning a longer trip with the need to re-charge, we didn't have to unpack and repack the charger. We simply left it on the installed holder.

But let's get to the technical parameters. On one side of the charger there is a red CEE 5pin 16 A/400 V plug and on the other side a Mennekes Type 2 plug. In the package there was also an accessory in the form of an adaptor to a 230 V socket for an additional charge. As the values in the charger name suggest, it is a 16A version with an output of 11 kW, which is the maximum charging power for AC charging for most electric cars.

Operating the charger is very simple. Plug one end of the charger into a wall socket, the display will turn on, and using one button you can set the charging current limit (in Amperes in steps from 6 to 16 A) and with another button you can set the delayed charging (to up to 9 hours). You will appreciate this function when you have a low/high tariff agreed with your electricity supplier. Then all you have to do is connect the charger to the parked vehicle and charging will start according to the set parameters.

Setting of the  charging current and delayed start

While charging the display informs us about the electricity currently supplied to the vehicle, what current the vehicle is being charged with, the operating temperature of the charger and how many phases the charger is connected to the vehicle with. Once the charging is completed, the charger remembers the amount of energy supplied to the car and saves this information in its memory. This way, we kept track of each charging cycle and the amount of energy supplied during the testing. We perceive this function very positively because at the end of the month you can retrieve these records from the charger's memory on the display and claim the expenses for the total monthly energy consumption.

Display of charger

During testing, we also encountered a situation when there was a power failure while charging the car, and we were worried about the vehicle not being ready for operation in the morning. We were pleased that everything was fine and we did not have to worry about a short range. A SECTRON representative confirmed us that the two features described above are the new features of a smart charger with the latest firmware.

We did not encounter any complications during testing. The charger can be carried inside the practical bag in the car and it will provide beginning electric car users with the confidence of being able to charge from any socket along the route. The bag is part of the package.

For short distances, the charger replaces the more expensive and often less equipped Wallbox. The result of the test pleasantly surprised us and we can confirm that this portable charger should be part of each electric car. And what more, it can boldly replace even the more expensive wallbox on the wall.

Why isn‘t a standard cable in the car sufficient?

Each electric car includes a charging cable. However, car manufacturers usually supply only a standard cable with no functions for 230V and a cable extension for charging from public AC charging stands. For a significantly higher surcharge, you can buy a similar product for a new car at the car showroom. However, it is many times more expensive and it often does not offer all the functions above.

There is also a 22 kW portable charger

In the SECTRON offer you will also find a 32A/400V portable charger, which is capable of charging up to 22 kW. This type of charger is suitable for EVs with on-board battery management of 22 kW, or for selected PLUG-IN hybrid vehicles. This way, the users of these cars can charge up to 7.3 kW (16A – 2 Phase/32A – 1Phase) compared to 2.3 kW (10A – 1 Phase).

Quick overview of functions:

• display for easier operation
• setting the maximum charging power
• charger temperature scanning
• charging time
• currently supplied power to the battery
• delayed charging
• electric meter
• charging memory of individual charging cycles
• IP65 rain protection

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