What are Electric Vehicle Charging Levels?
Chosing what level of charger to use is important to maximize your enjoyment and reduce range anxiety.
It isn’t that complicated, once you have the basic understanding. “Levels” are 1, 2 and 3, which get more powerful from the first level upwards. Let’s dive in!
120-Volt – Slow or Trickle Charging
The least powerful electric vehicle charging level, but the easiest to find a power source.
Think: Filling a pool with a garden hose.
Level 1 chargers are low-powered, 120V units that plug in to your common household recepticle.
These chargers are slow…very, very slow. They charge at an average rate of a few (4 to 8) kilometers per hour. This may work for some EVs with smaller battery capacity or those who do short driving commutes in temperate climates. Depending on the State of Charge (SOC) or how much energy is still in the battery, using a Level 1 can take 12 to 20 hours. Not practical for the busy family or active individual.
Level 1 chargers are not entirely negative. When used as a strategy, mixing them with other charge levels, they still have value. The slower charge rate is better for maintaining battery longevity and reduces your demand on utilities.
240-Volt – Fast Charging
Most practical electric vehicle charging level for today’s electric vehicles and will become very common.
Think: Filling a pool with a fire hose.
A Level 2 charges at 240-volts of AC power, double the voltage of a Level 1, reducing your charge-time significantly. The average Level 2 will charge a car in 4 to 10 hours, depending on the size of the battery pack and vehicle’s maximum charging rate.
Level 2s are becoming more common at home and publically available. You get good value, in charge rate versus what you spend. Level 2s often require installation by a licenced professional and permit. Some homes or buildings may already have the correct rated circuit and receptacle. In those cases, putting one in your home or business is simple, unless the unit requires hardwiring (direct wiring to circuit).
For busy families or the average commuter, a Level 2 will prove it’s worth in a short amount of time. They have the ability to get a decent charge over dinner, or while at work. This is much more convenient than a Level 1 or searching out a public Level 3. When the temperature changes, a Level 2 charger provides security, with the capability to get charged in the coldest Canadian weather.
DC – Rapid or Super Charging
The most powerful and fastest electric vehicle charging level of them all.
Think: Filling a pool with a dump truck full of water.
These chargers separate themselves from the other two Levels on speed, type of current, connector and location of where you “fill up.”
Level 3s use DC or “direct current” charging with lots of power. They require 400 or more volts and can charge 20 to 350kWh, which means a car will be full in 30 to 60 minutes. This depends on your vehicle’s abilities to accept the charge. These are commmercial-grade chargers installed by professionals.
The speed a Level 3 can charge an electric vehicle is impressive, so much, you’ll wish all chargers were this powerful and convenient. But, using Level 3 chargers create heat during the process, affecting the storage capacity of batteries over time.
Level 3 charging will first compliment gas stations and then replace them. These chargers are important for adopting electric mobility by providing convenience and security for commuters. Once deployed strategically, Level 3 chargers will reduce range anxiety experienced by early adopters of electric cars.
Level 3s require a significant investment to deploy, making them best used by businesses in energy distribution, transportation, logistics, or those with fleet requirements.
Finally, Level 3s differ from the other two, in that they use a CCS or ChaDeMo connector to your car. These are larger and more robust for to handle the current. Tesla, of course, uses it’s own connector.
If you have any questions about electric vehicle charging levels, feel free to reach out to EasyEV Inc for a casual conversation.