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 charging 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?
Level 1 Charging: The Slowest Choice but Accessible to Almost Everyone.
Best for: Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles Charging Daily at Home.
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.
Level 2 Charging: Faster Home Charging for EVs but Requires Installation.
Best for: Daily all-electric vehicle drivers to charge at home, in a parking lot, or at their workplace.
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 a refrigerator or washing machine.
Level 2 chargers can deliver up to 80 amps of power, which means it 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).
Level 3 Charging: Fastest, most expensive, and is almost always limited to public use only.
Best for: All-electric drivers taking a planned road trip further than their range, or those in need of a quick charge.
At a charging rate of up to 20 miles of range per minute, Level 3 charging is by far the fastest type of charging available in the EV industry today. The powering capabilities it would take a Level 1 charger between 2-3 hours to achieve, a Level 3 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 costs 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.