What are the different levels of EV chargers?
by William McCoy | December 2019
Car and Driver states General Motors has announced they will be releasing 30 new EVs by 2025. Many luxury high-line manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz, are planning to release 10 new all-electric vehicles by the same time. According to Consumer Reports, there could 100 different all-electric vehicles by 2025. With that many EVs coming to market in less than 5 years, let’s take a look at the different levels of chargers, the major manufactures, and the best applications for each.
A Quick Review of Terms
ICE vehicles refer to internal combustion engines and are what most people currently drive every day. There are also two types of electric vehicles PHEV (plug-in electric vehicles) an
d BEV (battery electric vehicles). An example of a PHEV is the Chevrolet Volt. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is a BEV or commonly known as an all-electric vehicle. AC refers to alternating current and DC refers to direct current. Both types of vehicles need EV chargers and there are three levels of them.
Level 1 Chargers
Level 1 chargers have the most basic of charging speeds. These chargers can be plugged into a standard 110V AC outlet. In most cases, you will receive this type of plug-in cord when purchasing an EV. The charging speed for Level 1 chargers is about 6 miles per hour. At that rate, it would take 17 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf. Because of the long charging times, the best application for Level 1 chargers are homes and long-term garages such as airports. For this reason, most drivers do not elect to go with Level 1 chargers and move toward Level 2 chargers.
Level 2 Charger
For everyday applications, a 240V AC Level 2 charger works well. It has many times the charging speed of a standard 110V AC outlet. However, it may require installation of the outlet in a place where it is more convenient. Most garages do not typically have 240V outlets sitting around, so an electrician will have to run wiring to an area convenient for Level 2 charging. You will find charging speeds of 25-40 miles per hour. With that speed, you can charge a vehicle that has a 300-mile range within about 8 hours. For example, if you plug an EV in at 6 pm, it would be fully charged by the time you awake at 6 am. Level 2 charging makes it much more convenient for retail settings like dealerships, as well as home charging. Especially since off-peak (8 pm-6 am), charging saves significant amounts of money to homeowners and operators.
A new development in Level 2 charging comes from the emergence of fleet vehicles such as semi-truck and transporters as in buses to have the ability to recharge EVs in a shorter period. These commercial-level EVs are designed to charge faster using a special Level 2 charger not usually compatible with most EVs. Typical applications of Level 2 chargers are home garages, shopping centers, and offices.
Level 3 / DCFC (Direct Current Fast Charging)
DCFC also known as Level 3 Chargers is the quickest way to energize an electric vehicle with charging speeds of up to 300 miles in one hour. They are also more expensive than the Level 2 chargers and require 480V phase 3 power sources. Because they are so much faster it allows for road trips with normal breaking periods. For example, you could go on a road trip from Washington, DC to Detroit, Michigan (about 550 miles) and only need to stop once. At that stop, you would most likely use the restroom and grab a bite to eat. By the time you arrived at your EV, would be fully charged and ready to complete your trip. One thing to keep in mind about DCFC is that there are a few types of charger connections: CCS, CHAdeMO, and Tesla. Because of this, you would need to check which station provides your EVs charger. Apps like EVgo.com make it very convenient to find a charging station for your specific vehicle.
DCFC can be expensive to install, as it takes a large voltage connection and a more expensive charger. For this reason, you will most likely find these at designated EV charging stations, rest stops, and in commercial applications. In most cases, there will also be an additional fee added to the convenience of being fully charged in a brief time.
Whether you are looking for commercial or residential charging solutions, Current Dealers can help with your assessment, installation, and service. Feel free to reach out using the contact info below or simply start a live chat with one of our specialists.