Over the past decade, the electric vehicle (EV) industry has exploded in consumer adoption and popularity. From EV giants like Tesla producing sleek, future-forward EVs to Ford jumping into the electric truck space, it’s now certain that EVs will continue to command a sizeable market share of the automobile market.
Now, if you’re new to the EV space, or you’re looking to improve your charging practices, you may have seen that there are several options for charging an electric vehicle (EV), and understanding the different chargers are critical to properly charging your EV.
Today, there are three standardized chargers available to EV owners: Level 1 EV Charging (L1), Level 2 EV Charging (L2), and Level 3 EV Charging (L3). Each of these chargers are beneficial in different situations, so it is essential to choose a charger that is most suited to your needs.
The most popular charger is a Level 2 EV charger. Level 2 chargers are fast enough for most purposes while being economical and utilizing the electrical infrastructure that is already present in most locations. Because of this, they are commonly used in offices, public spaces, and even private residences. The Level 2 charger uses a standard 240-volt appliance outlet (typically what your dryer is plugged into) and can readily charge an EV in 4-10 hours; therefore, it’s great for quick charging at work and overnight charging.
Types of EV Charging Connectors: What are Level 2 EV Chargers?
Rapid (Level 3), fast (Level 2), and slow charging (Level 1) are the three main types of EV charging. These are the power outputs, and hence charging speeds available to charge an EV.
Each charger type is coupled with a set of connections designed for low or high-power consumption and AC or DC charging. Before diving in, you should first understand the difference between AC and DC charging for EVs.
Alternating Current (AC): There are two types of AC vehicle-side connections, which are often used for top-up charging at home, work, and destinations.
Direct Current (DC): There are three types of DC car-side connections used for rapid charging and are usually found in commercial and public locations.
Now, let’s look at the types of connectors that several charging points use.
Type 1: This connector is a single-phase plug used for EVs from North America and Asia. It allows you to charge your EV at a rate of up to 7.4 kW, depending on your car’s charging and capability.
Type 2: These connectors are triple-phase plugs because they feature three extra wires that allow electricity to flow through them. As a result, they can charge an EV more quickly. This is the most common type of connector found on newer EVs.
CHAdeMO: This rapid charging technology, invented in Japan, provides for extremely high charging capacity and bidirectional charging. It is capable of charging up to 100 kW. Currently, Asian manufacturers are playing a leading role in offering CHAdeMO-compatible electric vehicles.
CCS (SAE Combo): The CCS connector is an improved version of the Type 2 plug with two additional power connections for rapid charging. It is capable of charging at speeds of up to 350 kW. It accepts both AC and DC power.
Tesla Supercharger: This connector is only compatible with Tesla models.
Note: A DC fast charger is not available on all EVs, and it is occasionally offered as an upgrade option. So make sure to do your homework on your chosen model.
Choosing which connector type to install is often based on the amount of use a particular charger gets. For example, a workplace charging station may require a J1772 connector because many people will use it throughout the day.
There are also different types of connectors depending on location– for instance, the Type 2 AC charger, with a three-phase connector, is the norm in Europe, and most charging stations include a Type 2 outlet. On the other hand, one of the most common EV charging connectors in the US is J1772.
Except for Tesla, every electric car manufacturer in North America uses the SAE J1772 connection, usually known as the J-plug, for Level 1 (120-volt) and Level 2 (240-volt) charging. Tesla includes a Tesla charger adaptor cable with each car they sell, allowing Tesla vehicles to utilize charging stations with a J1772 connection. This means that any electric car sold in North America can be charged at any charging station equipped with the standard J1772 connection.
What Are the Biggest Differences Between Level 1 and Level 2 EV Charging?
The biggest difference that you will see between a Level 1 and a Level 2 charger is speed. The Level 2 charger is much faster and more reliable; 6.2 to 7.6 kW is much more power than the 1.4 kW you get with the Level 1 charger.
If you use a Level 1 charger, you usually get 4 miles of driving range per hour of charge. If you use a Level 2 charger, you typically get 32 miles per hour of charge. Level 2 chargers usually take 4-10 hours to fully charge, while Level 1 chargers generally take 11 to 20 hours.
Different Level 3 EV Charging Options
Level 2 chargers are flexible compared to their Level 1 and Level 3 counterparts. As a result, they are very common for home charging as well as commercial and office charging.
Level 2 Charging at Home
Plenty of companies such as ClipperCreek, Blink, Wallbox, and more offer options to have a Level 2 charger installed at home. Level 2 chargers are great for home use because they charge faster and can simply be plugged into a 240v outlet. People opt for this choice because it provides faster charging but is cheaper and more attainable than a Level 3 charger.
Level 2 Charging at an Office
Level 2 chargers are common in public areas and workplaces where employees can leave EVs charging during the workday. In addition, some Level 2 stations include several connectors that allow multiple cars to charge without needing to detach or relocate during the workday.
Level 2 Charging at a Commercial Location
A Level 2 charging station is the most common type of public charging station. Today, several charging station brands are available, including Blink, ChargePoint, EVgo, and Tesla chargers/superchargers. Level 2 chargers usually exceed Level 3 chargers by five to ten times, depending on the city.
How fast is a Level 2 EV Charger?
Level 2 chargers run between 208 and 240 volts and may provide anything from 3 kW to 19 kW of ac power. This power output corresponds to a range of 18-28 miles per hour, depending on the vehicle. An average electric vehicle may be charged to 100% capacity in 4 to 10 hours.
So, how does that compare to Level 1 and Level 3 chargers? Level 2 EV chargers are the midpoint between Level 1 and Level 3 chargers. Level 1 chargers are the slowest possible charging type, taking anywhere from 10 to 24 hours to charge your electric vehicle fully. On the other hand, Level 3 chargers are by far the fastest charging option for electric vehicles, requiring anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to charge an EV fully.
Considerations Before Buying
Buying the right charger comes down to understanding your own needs and weighing the pros and cons of each type of charger. Here are just a few:
Pros of a Level 1 Charger
- The cheapest option for home installation
- Portable units are available
Cons of a Level 1 Charger
- Not suited for EV owners that use their vehicle frequently
- As battery capacities increase, they take longer to charge with Level 1 chargers
Pros of a Level 2 Charger
- Quicker charging time than a 120-volt charger
- Many vehicles are compatible with Level 2 charging
Cons of a Level 2 Charger
- Can be expensive to purchase compared to Level 1 chargers
- Need to hire an electrician for installation
Pros of a Level 3 Charger
- Fastest charging available
- Great option for public and commercial charging stations
Cons of a Level 3 Charger
- Too complex and expensive for home installations
- Can degrade your EV battery quicker
When Might One Choose a Type of EV Charging Connector Over the Other?
Each type of charger is beneficial for different situations. For example, an Level 2 EV charger is a great choice for someone who wants to charge their vehicle at home but has a long-range battery and frequently uses their EV. A Level 2 charger would ensure that the vehicle gets plenty of charge compared to a Level 1 charger but would be more attainable in price and resources compared to a Level 3 charger.
For someone who doesn’t want to hire an electrician to install their EV charger or just wants to plug their charger into a standard 120V outlet and has plenty of time to let their vehicle fully charge, an Level 1 charger would be a better option.
For a business owner who already has a great electrical infrastructure available to them and wants to add EV charging options to their business for guests, an Level 3 charger is a great option.
EV Chargers Level 2 Manufacturers
Let’s go over some common EV charger manufacturers and the types of chargers they offer.
- ClipperCreek offers residential, commercial, workplace, and fleet charging options. They also provide great tools such as their EVSE Selector Tool and EVSE Installer Database.
- ChargePoint is a well-known EV charging brand. According to the company, there are 26,000 public charging stations across the US. ChargePoint has 118,000 charging stations worldwide. The business also makes a Level 2 home EV charger called the ChargePoint Home Flex. They also produce Level 3 chargers.
- Webasto is a manufacturer that produces Level 2 EV chargers for home and commercial locations.
- Blink is another well-known EV charging company. They place their charging stations in accessible areas, including residential complexes, hospitals, and offices. They also offer a Level 2 home EV charger called the Blink IQ 200.
- Wallbox is an EV charger manufacturer that specializes in home EV charging. Its primary product, Pulsar Plus, is a Level 2 EV charger for the home.
- Volta is a manufacturer that produces Level 2 EV chargers and Level 3 EV chargers and has a network of chargers for public use.
Differences in EV Chargers
To summarize, let’s review the differences of each type of charger:
Level 1: Level 1 charging is the slowest. Level 1 chargers connect into a regular 120-volt AC socket and deliver 1.3 kW to 2.4 kW. A fully charged EV battery might take up to 24 hours.
Level 2: Level 2 chargers run on 208-240 volts and produce 3 kW to 19 kW AC power. A typical EV charges in 4 to 10 hours. Because some Level 2 chargers deliver more power than EVs can use, outcomes will vary by charger and EV.
- ClipperCreek offers residential, commercial, workplace, and fleet Level 2 charging options.
- They also provide great tools such as their EVSE Selector Tool and EVSE Installer Database.
Level 3: Level 3 chargers have the highest power of 350 kW. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging, Level 3 charging uses direct current (DC). They can charge an EV battery to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes and 100% in 60 to 90 minutes.
Top Recommendations: Products
Do you want a charger that can charge your EV overnight? A Level 2 charger would be the best choice for you.
Do you want to save a little money and you don’t mind longer charging times? A Level 1 would be a better option in that case.
Well-known brands such as Blink, Wallbox, Webasto, and ChargePoint all offer great options for Level 2 home chargers. These products include the following:
- ClipperCreek LCS-20, LCS-20, HCS-40, and HCS-50
- Blink IQ 200
- Wallbox Pulsar Plus 40A
- Webasto TurboDX
- ChargePoint Home Flex
The important takeaway is this: The best choice for you will be based on your unique charging needs. Those who drive infrequently or are driving a hybrid vehicle may do just fine with a Level 1 charger, however, for a daily driver, it’s most likely that you’ll want to make use of a Level 2 or Level 3 charger when available.
We hope you can use this guide to assess your needs and understand which charger will be most convenient for you and your EV usage. Also, be sure to check out other pieces on other EV-related topics!
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