What Is Level 1, 2, 3 EV Charging?

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

If you’re searching for an electric vehicle charger to purchase, you’ve probably seen or heard of the following categories: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. But what do these terms mean when it comes to fully charge up your car—usually measured by an EV reaching between 80% to a full battery—and which charging solution is right for you and your individual needs?  

As one would expect, the higher the “level” on an EV charger, the faster the session to achieve full power capacity. This is because as the level is increasing, more power is delivered to charge up the vehicle. When it comes to electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), please note that different EVs charge at different rates and no two vehicles will reach full capacity at the same time.  

See this EV Charging 101 video from PG&E

Level 1 Charging: The Slowest Choice but Accessible to Almost  Everyone. 

As one would expect, the higher the “level” on an EV charger, the faster the session to achieve full power capacity. This is because as the level is increasing, more power is delivered to charge up the vehicle. When it comes to electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), please note that different EVs charge at different rates and no two vehicles will reach full capacity at the same time.

As the most basic and accessible charging solution, Level 1 charging requires only a standard 120-volt home outlet. Every EV (or plug-in hybrid) currently on the market can be powered by a Level 1 charger by plugging the EVSE into a typical wall outlet. And yes, we do mean that same outlet you use to charge your smartphone or plug in your toaster. Level 1 chargers work well with all plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) available today because they (on average) have smaller batteries compared to electric vehicles. Since EVs have much larger batteries. A huge plus is that most garage spaces already have standard wall outlets, so an electrician is almost never needed to use this charging method. You can purchase a Level 1 charger, plug it in, and immediately begin charging your vehicle just as you would with any other electronic charging device.  Level 1 is the slowest way to charge an EV. On average, a Level 1 charger is estimated to add 3 and 5 miles of range per hour, of course depending on your vehicle type and its battery’s capabilities. This charge would work best for anyone with a PHEV/plug-in hybrid vehicle, as their range usually only has a maximum of around 50 miles in total. However, for an all-electric vehicle, a Level 1 charger would likely not be sustainable to use every day and would leave a lot of range untapped for daily charging sessions.

Best for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles Charging Daily at Home. 

 

Level 2 Charging: Faster Home Charging for EVs but Requires  Installation. 

an all-electric vehicle, a Level 1 charger would likely not be sustainable to use every day and would leave a lot of range untapped for daily charging sessions.

Level 2 charging is the often-used solution for daily EV charging at home. But Level 2 charging equipment can also be installed in commercial parking lots or used for workplaces as well. On average, this charging type adds between 35-70 miles of range to your EV per hour of your session.  Many EV drivers opt to use Level 2 charging equipment at home because it simply gets the job done faster than Level 1. A Level 2 charger uses a 208 or 240-volt plug, which is a dedicated circuit and the kind of plug you would use to power larger devices, such as a dryer, air compressor, or a water heater. Level 2 chargers can deliver up to 80 amps of power, which means they can charge up a standard electric vehicle within a few hours. The cost of installation varies, but most find this option to be best for daily all-electric vehicle drivers, such as those in Tesla models or any other battery electric vehicle (BEV). 

Best for: Daily all-electric vehicle drivers to charge at home, in a parking lot, or their workplace. 

 

Level 3 DC Fast Charging: Fastest, most expensive, and is almost always limited to public use only. 

At a charging rate of up to 20 miles of range per minute, Level 3 “DC” fast charging is by far the fastest type of charging available in the EV industry today. The “DC” refers to a direct current utilized during the process. Unlike an “AC” (alternating current) charger, DC faster chargers have converters within the units themselves to convert AC power to DC for the purpose of charging the battery more efficiently. These units are huge, heavy, and are usually only found in public parking lots like those for shopping malls, gyms, hotels, or are used for EV car fleets.

For the powering capabilities, it would take a Level 1 or 2 charger hours to achieve, a DC fast charger can accomplish in just a few minutes of session time. Level 1 and Level 2 charging typically utilize an alternating current (AC), meanwhile Level 3 charging relies on a direct current (DC).  The biggest drawback for Level 3 charging? The price. The average cost of a charging session would be between $10 and $15 per session for the driver, sometimes more.  While this is still less expensive than gasoline, it requires charging in public for 30-45 minutes to receive a full charge, which is about 2-3 times longer than a standard fueling session at a gas station.  Level 3 Fast Charging is usually reserved for long trips and is typically utilized by all-electric vehicle drivers only. Most only use Level 3 charging in a pinch due to the price, as charging at home daily usually only costs an extra $25-30 per month with Level 2 charging added onto your electric bill.

Best for All-electric drivers taking a planned road trip further than their range, drivers in a pinch who need to charge in public, fleet charging where Level 3 is offered.

 

Related Content