With the rise of global climate awareness, the automobile industry is making a big push toward electrification.
It’s no secret really as every major auto manufacturer is scrambling to release a new electric vehicle in an attempt to catch some of the momentum.
So for prospective buyers, the market is becoming very interesting in regard to choice. Hybrids are no longer green enough for the world.
The EV is naturally the popular choice for those looking for an eco-friendly and cost-effective mode of transportation.
However, one of the biggest concerns for many potential electric vehicle owners is the charging process.
It’s a common misconception that all-electric cars use the same kind of charger.
You would think we would have a universal standard, like outlets but it isn’t so.
So let’s dive into the different types of electric car chargers and their features to help you understand the charging process better.
That way when you get your EV you can actually plug the damn thing in.
Types of Electric Car Chargers
There are three main types of electric car chargers: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.
Level 1 Charger
A Level 1 charger is the most basic type of charger and is typically found in homes in North America.
It uses a standard 120-volt outlet to charge the battery of an electric vehicle.
Level 1 charging is the slowest type of charging, taking up to 20 hours or more to fully charge a depleted battery.
It provides a charging rate of about 4-6 miles per hour.
However, it is the most convenient option for home use and is often included with the purchase of an electric vehicle.
If you’re in Europe and most of Asia you’ll most likely have 220-volt electricity as standard in your home. You’re lucky because this is actually the preferred choice for charging, considered Level 2 and way faster.
As Americans, we have to fork up some cash to get a 220-volt connection.
Level 2 Charger
A Level 2 charger is a higher-powered charging option that uses a 220-volt outlet.
It can fully charge an electric vehicle’s battery in 4-8 hours, depending on the vehicle and battery size. Level 2 charging is ideal for home use and can also be found at public charging stations.
It provides a charging rate of about 25 miles per hour.
In the united states if you have an electric dryer this is the type of outlet needed to power one of these chargers.
In the rest of the world, 220 volts is generally standard for household outlets so installing level 2 charging is actually much easier.
Although in the U.S. if you have a 200 amp service installing a 220-volt connection for a level 2 EV charger is fairly straightforward.
Warning: Electricity is dangerous and can seriously injure you so please use caution if you are trying to install an EV charger yourself, otherwise consult a licensed professional electrician.
Level 3 Charger
A Level 3 charger, also known as a DC fast charger, is the fastest type of charging option available.
It uses a 480-volt outlet to deliver a high amount of power to the battery, allowing it to be fully charged in just 30 minutes to an hour.
It has a charging rate of astonishing 250 miles per hour!
It doubles the amount of electricity of a level 2 and is typically not possible to install in a residential home.
Level 3 chargers are typically only found at public charging stations or in large commercial areas.
Benefits Of Different Electric Car Chargers
Each type of electric car charger has its own set of benefits, making it important to understand the differences before choosing a charging option.
Level 1 charging is the most convenient option for home use, as it simply requires a standard 120-volt outlet.
It doesn’t require any modifications or wiring installations, but it will be the slowest and most inefficient way to charge your electric car.
It’s not the most ideal way to charge your car but it can be done in a pinch. If you have a super short commute or don’t drive your vehicle much at all you can get away with it but requires planning.
Level 2 charging is much faster than Level 1 and is really the ideal method for home use.
For those who need to charge their electric vehicle in a shorter amount of time level 2 drastically reduces the time while increasing the efficiency.
Level 3 charging is the fastest option yet, but its high cost and special requirements make it something reserved for occasional use.
Not all EVs are rated for Level 3 charging especially some of the older used EVs on the market.
However, most new Electric cars support fast charging.
It’s really for those who need to quickly top up their battery on a long road trip. Think Tesla Supercharger.
Level 3’s are not recommended for daily use as the high current can actually damage battery cells if used too frequently. Read our breakdown of the harmful effects of DC charging here.
Networks Public charging networks, such as ChargePoint and EVgo, offer Level 2 and Level 3 chargers and can be found at various locations such as shopping centers, grocery stores, and rest areas.
Some networks may require membership or a fee to use their charging stations.
Electric car charging compatibility depends on the type of charging port the electric car has and the compatibility of the charging station.
Think of how American outlets are different from Europe and Asia. It’s similar to that.
Charging Station Compatibility
Not all charging stations are compatible with all-electric cars. It’s important to check the compatibility of the charging station with your electric car before using it.
You may need a special adapter to work with your particular EV. Like a Tesla.
There are several different types of charging ports/connectors, including J1772, CCS1, CCS2, CHAdeMO, and Tesla Supercharger.
The most common charger style is the J1772 and it’s the one most Electric vehicles use. This is about as standard as it gets and most EVs will have adapters that work with this type of connector, even tesla.
CCS1 and CCS2
Physically similar in design and shape to J1772 the CCS connects are reserved for DC fast charging only or level 3. Think of them as J1772 but slightly tweaked for level 3 only.
Oh and the difference between CCS1 and CCS2 is the markets. CCS1 is primarily for north American markets whereas CCS2 is for Europe and the rest of the world.
ChAdeMO an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve,” is largely an antiquated charger that was popularized on the Nissan leaf. Also, a DC fast charger connector, its largely unsupported now as the CCS/J1772 standard is the norm.
Only a handful of vehicles use this style connector those being Nissan, Mitsubishi, and a few Kia/Hyundai products.
Tesla chargers and ports are proprietary to them. You can use J1772 or CCS fast chargers with a tesla provided you have an adapter.
You can not, however, charge a non-Tesla at a Tesla Supercharger station. The chargers require a special software “handshake” when plugged into recognize the vehicle and tesla does not support non-Teslas at the moment.
I know Boo Elon.
Wrapping Things Up
So there you have it folks, not all electric cars use the same charger. So if your thinking about installing a charger at home for your new EV make sure you know what connector it has.
The compatibility of electric car chargers depends on the type of charging port the electric car has and the compatibility of the charging station you choose.
Buying an electric car is a little more involved than your traditional ICE. Understanding how you will power your EV is an important step in reaping the eco rewards from driving it.
Hopefully, this clears up any confusion you may have about chargers and charge ports.