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How do Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Work?

Commercial EV Charging Stations 101

As businesses explore the possibility of installing commercial Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), foundational knowledge of the technology will help any sustainability professional or savvy hotelier to navigate the complex space of EVs more effectively. So if you are asking yourself, “how do electric vehicle charging stations work?” bookmark this page! You won’t find another comparable commercial EVSE resource out there.

EVSE Syllabus

  • Common EV Terminology

  • EVSE Technology Manufacturers & Charging Networks

  • Electric Vehicle Connector Types

  • EVSE Charging Station Types

  • The EV Charging User Experience

  • Commercial EV Charging Station Installation Process

  • Challenges During Installation

  • How to Make Money from EV Charging

Common EV Terminology

EVSE: Electric vehicle supply equipment

Amps (A): The flow of electrons through a conductor (like water through a pipe). The higher the amperage, the higher rate of flow of electrons. Also known as circuit load. Usually 16 or 30/32 for AC cars.

Voltage (V): A measure of intensity along a conductor. The higher the voltage, the higher level of charging rate of flow. 208 for 3-phase distribution, mostly commercial, and 240 single-phase, mostly residential.

Kilowatt (kW): A measure of power. The higher the kilowatt, the faster the car charges.

Kilowatt Hour (kWh): A measure of energy. Indicates how much energy is needed for your EV to be operable.

Watt (W) - A measure of power (same as a kW but a smaller unit - there are 1,000 watts in a single kilowatt).

Connector - The component of a charging station that connects with an EV. Intelligent power-sharing - Allows charging sites to maximize the number of ports they can deploy while ensuring EV drivers get an adequate charge.

Hardware agnostic - When an EV network solution is not dependent on the hardware used during installation.

Commercial EVSE Station - An EV charging station designed for public or private use in settings outside of home charging stations.

EVSE Technology Manufacturers & Charging Networks

The world of EV hardware manufacturers and software developers is a constantly evolving space. The lists below are a sample of our regularly updated database that ensures our solution recommendations are top-of-the-pack, leading the industry.

EVSE Hardware Manufacturer

EV hardware companies develop, manufacture, and in some instances, install the physical technology that comprises the EV charging station.

EV Network Provider

Many public charging stations are operated by private charging network companies. These charging networks commonly require a membership to recharge an EV at their stations. Users may need a physical membership card, or they may be able to log in with their phone.

  • AmpUp

  • Chargelab

  • EV Connect

  • Open Charge Point Protocol (OCCPP)

If you’re looking to install a commercial EV charging station at your business, make sure to work with an experienced EV advisor like Donovan Energy. Your hardware and network selections will make or break your EV project. Make sure you get your EVSE installation right the first time.

Electric Vehicle Connector Types

Currently, there are six plug types on the market, three AC and three DC. As the market has matured, vehicle manufacturers have designed their own plugs. However, we expect a standard to take shape in the market. Most likely, SAE J1772.

AC Connector Types

SEA J1772

Type 2 (Mennekes)

Tesla (US)

North America & Japan

Europe & China

Tesla in North America

DC Connector Types


CSS (North Amercia)

CSS (Europe)

Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia, Citroen, Peugeot

BMW, Daimler, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen

BMW, Daimler, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen

EVSE Charging Station Types

There are three EV charging levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Level 3 is also known as DC Fast Charge. There are differences between each charging level. However, a general rule, the higher the Level, the higher the power output from the charger and the faster it can charge.

AC Level 3




Typical Charging Time


Primary Use

12-16 amps

120 V

1.3-1.9 kW

12-40 hours 2-5 miles RPH

J1772 connector

  • Backup charge

  • Some home use

​​AC Level 2




Typical Charging Time


Primary Use

6-80 amps

208 V or 240 V

Up to 7.2 kW

2-4 hours 10-30 miles RPH

J1772 connector

  • Park and charge

  • Residential, commercial, and public charging

DC Fast Charge




Typical Charging Time


Primary Use

70-125 amps

208 V or 480 V

24-150+ kW

15-45 minutes 100-200 miles RPH

SAE Combo, Tesla, ChaDeMo connector

  • Commerical, public

  • Charging while traveling long distances

The EV Charging User Experience

Our manufacturing partners over at ChargePoint have put together a great video that quickly explains the EV charging user experience in under two minutes.

Commercial EVSE Charging Station Installation Process

Donovan Energy uses a time-tested, client-approved methodology for our commercial EVSE installation process. We’ve broken it down into four key steps.

  1. Understand project scope and critical customer objectives. Our team will meet with yours to determine current and future constraints. Most importantly, we’ll establish your location's available power capacity.

  2. Conduct site assessment(s) and develop recommendations The site assessment team from Donovan Energy will physically visit your property to survey and photograph details. After which, we will determine the suitable number of units and best locations. These recommendations will accompany our expertly researched financing options and incentives.

  3. Deliver EVSE materials, installation of EV hardware, and activate units Depending on your project scope, our team will provide end-to-end project execution with the results we’ve planned for your success.

  4. Coordinate software functionality and implementation We want your commercial EVSE installation to be a huge success. To that end, we provide employee training sessions that detail system use and management. The team will walk you through the hardware, software, and administrative necessities.

What are the challenges during the installation of an EV charging station?

  1. Selecting the right hardware and software - With so many choices, it is easy to select the wrong products with significant quality issues or the wrong solution for the actual use case. These easy-to-make mistakes will create costly problems for such a visible solution.

  2. Making the choice to join a network or go solo - Currently, there are over eight public EV charging networks in the marketplace. How will you know which one to join?

Start your EV journey today with Donovan Energy!

How to Make Money from EV Charging

In reality, installing commercial EV charging stations will not produce a significant profit increase for businesses that invest in sustainability initiatives. Read our in-depth blog post on this specific topic.

Why Donovan Energy?

We are an experienced solution provider of networked and non-networked EV charging solutions. Our team uses meticulous, technology-agnostic, and experience-based qualifying processes for hardware and software. Why not partner with a team steeped in project management expertise that fosters best-in-class solution partners?

Did we answer the question, “how do electric vehicle charging stations work?” Tell us how we did.


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