SETTING THE BENCHMARK

3 Top Considerations for Successful EV Charger Design

by Chris Moore / November 28, 2022

To meet today’s climate goals, high power electric vehicle (EV) charging stations require balancing safety at high voltage, reliability in all weather conditions, and energy efficiency. For this reason, several companies are re-engineering the idea of EV chargers and how they fit into our current power grids and infrastructure. Finding a trusted partner that offers comprehensive solutions across the entire product lifecycle will prove to be an innovative—and more cost-effective—approach to EV infrastructure, essential to supporting a booming EV market.

 

Testing For Safety

A “quality conscience” mindset is central to all Benchmark does, and user safety is a critical part of this consciousness. Testing for safety must remain integral to your EV charger design, reducing the risk of electrical shock (as well as other potential hazards) to the end user. Your system must also be able to handle all the loads, currents, and voltages necessary for certification and release to market. Ensuring you meet UL safety standards will increase end-user protection from electrical hazards and get you safely to market. To that end, it is paramount to the ultimate success of your design to find an EMS partner that supports your design vision and strengthens your strategy from the beginning.

Beyond Benchmark’s specialized design and engineering expertise, we provide our customers with valuable consultation services, especially when safety of the original design is top of mind. In one particular case, we called upon our expertise in busbar design to support our customer’s design vision for a 150-200 Amp, 750 Volts of Direct Current (VDC) charger.

The customer approached us with the original design goal to use a PCB with thick copper traces. After identifying a potential design flaw, our engineers proposed a different approach. We designed copper busbars to join the batteries according to the customer’s requirements, then powder coated the busbars with a non-conductive coating. Additionally, we performed Hipot Testing (dielectric withstand testing) with test voltages up to 1,000VDC to ensure voltages did not jump across the busbars, screws, or components. The entire project was a success, helping our customer realize a high-quality EV charger design, ready for market.

 

Testing For Reliability

The reliability of EV charging equipment is another top-of-mind consideration. To achieve a respectable return on investment, EVs need to operate for several years, and in some cases, in extreme temperatures. Part of the design process, therefore, should include designing effective thermal management systems and testing for thermal tolerance. Since extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) have a profound effect on battery life, thermal management expands the range and optimizes the battery to continue operating in these extreme environments. Incorporating thermal tolerance testing increases the likelihood of creating a far superior EV charger to those of your competitors that might have left thermal management out of the design equation.

When Benchmark learned that one of our EV charging customers wasn’t planning to invest in thermal management, we again, provided invaluable consultative services. We demonstrated how successful EV companies heat and cool their batteries to keep them within the desired range. The customer ultimately opted for a solution that balanced efficiency and manufacturing cost by involving air cooling. They were very satisfied with our collaboration and look forward to our continued relationship as we support their product into volume production.

 

Supporting Emerging Smart Technologies

As EV sales continue to hit new records around the world, managing load increases from the growing EV charging power demand will be an ongoing challenge. If unmanaged (or managed poorly), this increased demand can push local transformers beyond their current capacity, resulting in expensive infrastructure upgrades and more frequent power outages. However, as the smart grid evolves, so too, will smart EV charging software (including bidirectional charging opportunities and advanced smart charger designs). The ultimate key to success, however, is finding an EMS partner that offers support from engineering through to market deployment. That partner is Benchmark.

Benchmark’s seasoned design and manufacturing teams have years of experience supporting our electronics customers through innovative designs that solve their end users’ electric power efficiency and reliability challenges. When one of our valued electronics customers approached Benchmark with a request to develop new technology for their in-line connected power meter that tracks and manages industrial electrical flow, we stepped up to the plate.

“Our innovative solution resulted in an energy-management device—built on a Smart Edge Gateway Platform—that leverages machine learning-derived algorithms to quickly triage and process information for consistent reactions to the inconsistent flow of electricity.”


Benchmark developed and implemented a streamlined solution to integrating sensors, edge processing, and connectivity, helping our customer’s end users manage their energy consumption more efficiently. Our innovative solution resulted in an energy-management device—built on a
Smart Edge Gateway Platform—that leverages machine learning-derived algorithms to quickly triage and process information for consistent reactions to the inconsistent flow of electricity. Simply put, “this solution is simple, elegant, powerful, secure, and ultimately limitless in how it can be scaled and used in future devices.”

Full Product Realization

Benchmark's team of top electrical and mechanical engineers work in collaboration with our clients and meet you wherever you are within the product development lifecycle—from design generation to volume manufacturing and beyond—to achieve continuous product improvement. Our more than 40 years of successful partnerships along with our full product realization capabilities help our customers reduce risk, minimize setbacks and delays, and get you to market quickly and safely. 

“Benchmark isn’t just a contract manufacturer. We don't just build things that customers give us. We have the expertise and the manpower to do the designs and get them tailored for market.”

 

As a global EMS leader, Benchmark offers our customers experienced talent in electrical and mechanical engineering with expertise in EV charging systems development. Leveraging our product design engineers worldwide, we have the experience and capability to work with complex designs involving high-voltage, high-current applications. In short, we operate efficiently within the voltage profile you require, help you determine the optimal power level for chargers, test for safety, and guide you through certification requirements. 

As Benchmark’s Engineering team puts it, “there's typically room for improvement with almost any design to get it a little bit more tailored for manufacturing. You really have to be thinking about process with every part that you're designing. Benchmark isn’t just a contract manufacturer. We don't just build things that customers give us. We have the expertise and the manpower to do the designs and get them tailored for market.”

Let’s innovate together. Experience the Benchmark difference.


Benchmark — Keeping You Informed

Other considerations to keep in mind…

Buy America Opportunities

Many companies worry that EV infrastructure’s current reliance on a global supply chain will prevent them from reaching the minimum U.S.-made requirements for electronics under the Buy America grants. However, with the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), it is entirely possible to develop the scale and capabilities of a U.S.-based EV infrastructure supply chain. While success ultimately depends on the specific product (and applicable requirements in the federal opportunities your company wishes to pursue), one thing is abundantly clear—the trend toward investing in U.S.-based EV infrastructure is quickly gathering momentum.

Working with a design team like Benchmark can help you develop a reliable inshore supply chain and get you that much closer to reaping the benefits. Benchmark has the largest percentage of our capacity in the United States of any electronics contract manufacturer.

Want to learn more? Read our FAQ on Buy America grant opportunities.

 

Smart Charging

While it is possible to charge an EV without smart technology, keeping smart connectivity in mind will differentiate you from the competition. Benchmark is committed to responsible environmental practices and is honored to have been awarded the Silver Medal Status from EcoVadis which places Benchmark in the top 25% of companies having earned this prestigious award. When you're ready to start smart charging, turn to Benchmark.

Want to learn more? Visit our website to read all about Benchmark's Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) strategy.

 

Complex Industrial Engineering

about the author

Chris Moore

Chris joined Benchmark nearly five years ago, bringing his more than 17 years of experience in designing electromechanical systems for military, industrial, and commercial product development as well as several years of experience in testing, field support, and Technical Program Management. Chris has an impressive background supporting both the military and commercial sectors. On the military side, Chris has designed major sub-systems for several military programs and has been involved in multiple programs for the US Army Rapid Equipping Force. On the commercial side, Chris ran an EV battery thermal testing program, and has designed systems and sub-systems for major telecom, semiconductor capital equipment, electric vehicle charging, and ride-share companies.