5 Differences Between AC and DC Charging

5 Differences Between AC and DC Charging

27 2 月, 2024

Are you confused between AC and DC charging? AC charging for home use is slow but convenient. However, if you’re in a hurry and need a quick charge at a dedicated charging station, DC charging is available.

On the other hand, the ease of use and compatibility range of each charging method may vary, leaving you confused and frustrated. Not to worry! Understanding these differences will help you make an informed decision to charge as you please.

AC charging and DC charging

What is AC charging and DC charging

AC charging makes use of alternating current and recharges your electric vehicle (EV). Plugging your EV to your home socket or public charging station using regular AC power is now common practice. Electricity goes back and forth in cycles, allowing your onboard charger to convert it to the voltage needed by the battery.

AC charging is a slower option than DC charging, but it’s widely accessible and easily convenient for overnight charging. It is perfect for charging an EV battery when you don’t really need to hurry up.

AC charging and DC charging

DC differs from alternating current (AC), which oscillates with each cycle. It flows continuously in one direction. You can directly plug in your EV into a DC power source at DC charging. This method offers you fast charging, faster than charging through AC, because it does not need conversion and delivers electricity directly to your EV battery. Charging stations that work with direct current (DC) are sometimes placed at highway interchanges and other busy routes. So that you can accomplish your long-range traveling.

AC vs DC Charging: 5 Basic Differences 

1. Voltage and Current

AC Charging

The AC (alternating current) charging is mostly performed at lower voltage and current levels than DC (direct current) charging. AC charging operates at the typical household voltage of about 120 or 240 volts. In a normal mode, the amperage is anywhere between 16 and 80, depending on the charger capacity and the capabilities of your EV.

AC charging involves the electricity flowing in the reverse direction, changing from positive and negative cycles, depending on the power source. This is proof that AC is perfect for charging EVs at a lower rate. That is why AC chargers are more convenient for overnight charging and in case you have more time.

DC Charging

DC charging utilizes higher voltage and current levels. The range of voltage DC chargers can operate with is from 200 to 1000 volts, and they have typical current values between 100 and 500 amps. This is where fast chargers come into play. They are usually found in public charging stations, allowing the boosting of an EV battery’s charge level.

DC charging provides a pure and unidirectional flow of electric current from an external charging station to the vehicle battery. You dont need to convert the current when using the DC charger. This characteristic makes it ideal for situations where you need the EV to charge faster.

Sr. No.ParameterAC ChargerDC Charger
1Current TypeAlternating Current (AC)Direct Current (DC)
2ConversionConversion done by car’s internal chargerConversion done by charger itself
3Charging SpeedSlower (2-8 hours)Faster (30 minutes – 1 hour)
4Power SourceTypically used at home or Level 2 public chargersTypically used at DC fast charging stations (Level 3)
5CostGenerally less expensiveGenerally more expensive than AC chargers
6Size and PortabilitySmaller and more portableLarger and less portable
7ComplexitySimpler designMore complex design due to built-in converter

2. Charging Speed and Time

AC Charging

AC charging is slower because of the lower voltage and current levels. The charging speed basically will depend on the charging station power output and the charger onboard. Therefore, it is suitable for charging during the night on AC chargers.

The time that an AC charger takes completely depends on the EV battery capacity, the charging power, and the present charge level of the EV. As in a common EV that has a 60 kWh battery, it will take from 6 to 12 hours to achieve a full charge using a level 2 AC charger.

DC Charging

In contrast, With DC fast chargers, you can usually get charging rates of around 150 kW or more. It depends on the charger’s capabilities. Take this into consideration if your EV can support such a level of output.

Multiple factors or things affect the charging rate when using the DC charger. The key ones include the capacity of battery, charge level of the battery, and total power of the charger. For example, some EVs with ‘fast-charging’ feature will recharge 80% of their battery life within half an hour.

DC Charging

3. Impact on Battery

AC Charging

AC charging tends to be smoother to the EV’s battery than DC charging. The slower charging process and the lower energy rates cause less heat generation. This is very important in the process of maintaining the battery life and its overall health. With the help of AC charging, you can reduce the risk of overcharging or overheating the battery.

At AC charging, you work in the voltage and current limits that are set up by your vehicle’s onboard charger. This results in no stress on the battery cells. Furthermore, the majority of EVs have battery management systems. They regulate the AC charging and its parameters in order to optimize the performance of the battery and safety.

DC Charging

The DC charging may be more destructive to your EV battery due to the higher charging speeds and voltage levels. On the other hand, AC charging is the usual method of recharging EVs, which may be less destructive for batteries. DC fast charging may lead to higher levels of heat in the battery cells due to the quick injection of energy. In the long run, this can add to their degradation as a result of heat.

A number of parameters can influence how much time you need to charge an EV from a DC fast charger. These parameters include the EV battery capacity, the charging power of the charging station, and the present charge level of the EV. For example, some EVs with a ‘fast charger’ feature give the user 80% of the battery in 30 minutes when plugged into a high-end DC fast charger.

When using DC fast charging, you can first understand how does DC fast charging works to increase your knowledge of this product.

4. Cost and Charging Equipment

AC Charging

The availability and relatively cheap cost of AC charging facilities is higher than that of DC charging infrastructure. Level 1 AC chargers, which operate on a 120V plug like the one used in a home outlet, are fairly cheap. You can install them at one’s residence at negligible initial costs. Alternatively, Level 2 AC chargers are also cost-effective and are effectively available in residential, commercial and workplace settings. 

AC Charging

For many, AC charging is a better choice when recharging your battery every day or when topping up overnight. This is because, during the off-peak hours, the electricity prices may be lower.

DC Charging

Meanwhile, the requirement for DC charging equipment, especially DC fast chargers, demands heavy investment in infrastructure and installation. Public DC fast charging spots that possess a high power output and certain specialized components typically come at a higher cost of deployment and maintenance.

Due to this fact, the cost of DC charging sessions might be higher compared with AC charging. This is in order to cover the expenses of infrastructure setup and operation. Although some public DC fast chargers may charge EV drivers at no cost or subsidize their charges. At the same time, others may charge by the use or subscription-based fees.

The price of the DC charging depends on the charging station operator, location and also speed of charging. Also, EV manufacturers can offer their customers access to DC fast charging network services. This comes at no cost or discounts as part of the package of buying or leasing their vehicles.

5. Efficiency and Energy Loss

AC Charging

Upon charging your electric car (EV) with AC power, the electricity goes through the conversion from AC to DC within the charger of your vehicle. This production process has some energy loss, hence affecting the system’s efficacy.

The energy transformation happening in AC charging reflects some energy loss in the heat form. This takes place during an alternating current to a direct current transformation, as well as in the cables and stationary connectors. However, there is energy loss in modern AC chargers.

DC Charging

DC charging enjoys higher efficiency due to the elimination of the need for a board charger. Hence avoiding a conversion of AC to DC. Conversely, DC charging means the EV battery is supplied with electricity in its native form of direct current. Thus minimizing the losses that are due to conversion. Moreover, both DC fast chargers and power electronics are designed to facilitate efficient energy transfer, which helps in reducing losses.


In essence, this article points out that comparing AC and DC charging methods is necessary for the optimal use of electric vehicles. Now you know that AC is operating with lower voltages, which provides the possibility of overnight charging at home.

On the contrary, DC charging delivers more power at higher voltages and thus is ideal for rapid charging at public stations. By understanding these differences, you can choose the right place to charge your electric vehicle. Hence, whichever criteria you emphasize, the information above on each difference will help you make a wiser choice.

You can check relevant knowledge about the product on the PIWIN website. If you have any questions, please contact them. They also have professional personnel to answer your questions.