A Comparison of DBT vs SGTE Rapid Chargers

On my trip to Edinburgh a couple of weeks a go I had to use a few of the rapid chargers that are operated by Charge Your Car. This required me to buy a Lifetime RFID card from CYC at a cost of £10. This card then gives me access to all of the CYC network most of which is free. Some locations do charge and where they do the fee is put onto my CYC account and invoiced monthly. Fortunately there are very few locations that currently charge.

So after using only the chargers in the Ecotricity Electric Highway and Nissan dealerships for the past couple of years, who both use DBT rapid chargers of the same design, it was interesting what differences I might find using the CYC rapid chargers.

Visually they are quite different. The DBT charger, the one used on the Ecotricity Highway,  is kind of “slimline” but the SGTE charger used by CYC is square and chunky looking. I know that looks are hardly important but this is how I tell them apart.

However, it is the user experience that really matters and I have to say that the experience is quite different.

DBT Rapid AC/DC Charger
as used by Ecotricity and Nissan

The DBT charger has a big LCD screen onto which instructions and error codes appear. There are buttons down either side of the screen which have different functions depending on what is displayed on the screen. You authenticate by holding the RFID card against the card reader (hold it still until it recognises the card) and then this is where it gets complicated.

Firstly, the DBT chargers are both AC and DC chargers and so you first select which side you want to use. Then you have a number of options… you can set the charge time, the charge stop percentage or just select a “standard charge” and accept all the defaults. Once you have selected the type of charge you then plug into the car and start the charge with yet another button. All this faffing around means that you have to press at least 4 buttons to get the charge started and possibly several more than that if you want to set a charge time or percentage. It is a lot more faffing around than you really want to do when it is blowing a gale and pouring with rain!

 Not really related to the charger but the no parking signs that Ecotricity put at their charging bays seem to work very well at disuading non-EVs from parking there but they have very sharp corners and hurt like crazy if you catch your head on one when plugging in or unplugging… I had the bruise to prove it 🙁

The SGTE charger is a much more simple beast. There are no choices of time or charge percentage. There is no selection of AC/DC. You swipe, plug in and start the charge. It seems to stop after 30 minutes. All a lot quicker and a lot simpler. I much prefer the SGTE from a user experience perspective.

Now I don’t know if this was just coincidence but I also found that the SGTE chargers did not heat up my battery anything like as much as the DBT chargers do. I have only charged a few times on SGTE chargers and so this is certainly not conclusive but I felt that the battery ran much cooler during the charge on SGTE. Perhaps someone else can confirm this otherwise I shall have to put it down to coincidence.

I also have it on good authority that the SGTE chargers are way more reliable than the DBT ones. They have been in service a lot longer so perhaps it is just a matter of time before the DBT chargers become just as reliable but right now they are showing a propensity to break almost on a whi at the moment.

So which do I prefer? Hands down I prefer the SGTE charger
from a user perspective. It is interesting to note though that the SGTE
chargers were the ones installed initially into Nissan delaers and were
subsequently replaced by the DBT ones.

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