Levels of EV charging

Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is accelerating faster than experts predicted. This accelerated adoption results from government incentives, an increased choice of vehicles, increased public and private funding for EV adoption, and a cultural shift to greener and cleaner vehicles helping to push down harmful emissions. With the rise in EV adoption, it is essential to understand the different levels of EV charging and how these levels of charging can affect the type of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) you consider.

The Different Levels of EV Charging

There are three EV charging levels; Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. There are differences between each charging level. However, as a general rule, the higher the Level, the higher the power output from the charger and the faster it can charge.

Level 1 EV Charging

Level 1 EV charging utilizes the slowest EV charger available, which provides between 1 kW and 1.8 kW of power through a standard 120-volt AC outlet. Level 1 EV charging is available in North America and uses a standard 3-prong household plug on one end and a J1772 (Type 1) EV connector on the other, which plugs into the vehicle. Level 1 chargers are unavailable in Europe due to standard residential electricity being 230-volt.

How Fast is a Level 1 EV Charger?

Level 1 is the slowest of the electric car charging levels and can take between 22-40 hours to fully charge a standard battery electric vehicle (BEV) from empty. An hour of charging with a Level 1 charger will give your EV between 3-7 miles (4-11 kilometers) of range. All Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) can use a Level 1 EV charger, and they are usually provided free when purchasing the vehicle.

Level 1 EV chargers are almost always used at home as a trickle charger or as a backup when there are no Level 2 or Level 3 charging stations available. Unless you are charging your vehicle at home, a Level 1 EV charger is not very practical due to its slow charging speed.

EV Charging LevelConnector TypeTypical Output PowerEstimated Charge Time (40kWh)Estimated Range Per Hour for ChargingUser case
Level 1J17721 kW – 1.8 kW22 – 40 hours3 – 7 miles (4 – 11 kilometers)Home / Backup
Level 1 EV charging connector

Level 2 EV Charging

Level 2 EV charging is much faster than Level 1 and utilizes a 208-volt to 240-volt AC outlet in North America and a 230-volt (single-phase) or 400-volt (three-phase) outlet in Europe. In North America, Level 2 chargers top out at 19.2 kW (80A), and in Europe, it’s 22 kW. A Level 2 charger can come with various additional functions and features, such as RFID cards, load balancing, and OCCP (Open Charge Point Protocol) networking.

The EV connector type for North America and Japan is J1772 (Type 1); for Europe, it’s a Mennekes (Type 2) connector. Level 2 charging stations can be provided with tethered charging cables (hard-wired to the charging station) or untethered with just a socket (you plug in your charging cable). Currently, Level 2 EV charging is the most common level of EV charger installed globally. However, the installation of Level 3 chargers is growing.

How Fast is a Level 2 EV Charger?

A Level 2 charger can be as much as 19 times faster than a Level 1 charger, depending on the power output and the charge acceptance rate of the vehicle you are charging. An hour of charging with a Level 2 charger can provide a range between 10-75 miles (16-120 kilometers).

Level 2 charging is the most common type used in public charging stations. Level 2 charging equipment can be installed at the home, workplace, and in many public locations such as hotels, retail parks, and supermarkets. It is the ideal charging level for overnight charging or while at work.

EV Charging LevelConnector TypeTypical Output PowerEstimated Charge Time (40kWh)Estimated Range Per Hour for ChargingUser case
Level 2J1772 (North America)
Mennekes (Europe)
3 kW – 22 kW2 – 13 hours10 – 75 miles (16 – 120 kilometers)Workplace, hotels, overnight charging
Level 2 EV Charging Connectors

Level 1 EV charging and Level 2 EV charging are both defined as AC-type EV chargers. Before we move on to Level 3 EV charging it is important to understand the difference between AC-type EV chargers and DC-type EV chargers.

The Difference between AC and DC EV Charging

There are two types of electrical currents for EV charging: AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current).

The power that comes from the electricity grid is AC. However, the energy used for an electric vehicle is stored in its battery, and a battery holds its power in DC. The difference between AC-type EV charging and DC-type EV charging is where the AC power is converted to DC power.

In AC-type charging, the AC is converted in the vehicle by its on-board charger, which is time-consuming; however, with DC-type charging, the conversion takes place in the charging station before the power is delivered to the vehicle, and as a result, it can bypass the limitations of the electric vehicle’s on-board charger and deliver more power. This is what makes DC EV charging faster than AC EV charging.

How DC fast charging works

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the fastest EV charger level – Level 3.

Level 3 EV Charging

Level 3 EV charging is also called DC fast charging and is significantly faster than Level 2 EV charging. Level 3 charging stations are the market’s quickest and most powerful EV charging options. A Level 3 charging station utilizes a three-phase supply, 480-volt in North America and 400-volt in Europe, with chargers capable of outputting over 360 kW of power.

A Level 3 charging station also comes with various functions and features, such as dynamic power distribution, multi-charging protocol cables, and networking via OCPP. There are stationary Level 3 chargers and portable Level 3 charging stations available.

CCS (Combine Charging System), CHAdeMO, and Tesla Superchargers (NACS) connectors are used for Level 3 EV charging.

Although Level 3 charging is often used in the industry today for all kW’s of DC fast charging, the origins of Level 3 charging technically refers to charging above 400 kW.

How Fast is a Level 3 EV Charger?

As mentioned earlier, a Level 3 charger converts AC to DC within the charger itself, resulting in faster power delivery directly to the EV battery. A Level 3 charger can fully charge a standard electric car in under 20 minutes, depending on its charge acceptance rate.

Level 3 EV chargers are often found at public service stations near highways as they are essential for use on longer journeys. There are several other locations where Level 3 EV charging is becoming more critical, including EV charging for fleets and auto dealerships. Any place where people park for short periods or the vehicle is in constant use – i.e., delivery vehicles.

EV Charging LevelConnector TypeTypical Output PowerEstimated Charge TimeEstimated Range Per Hour for ChargingUser case
Level 3CCS 1 (North America)
CCS 2 (Europe)
CHAdeMO (Japan)
30 kW – 360 kW15 mins – 1.5 hours* depending on charge acceptance rate120 – 1400+ miles (193 – 2250+ kilometers)Fleets, Car dealerships, highway services, logistics hubs, distribution centers
Types of DC fast charging

Categories: Blog, Evesco

What is DC fast charging

DC Fast Charging

Discover more about DC fast charging with this ultimate guide.

The Ultimate Guide to DC Fast Charging

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