EV Chargers – The Difference Between Levels

There is no getting around it, electric vehicles will eventually become the default car. Their popularity has increased dramatically each year for the last decade. It is estimated that by 2025 25% of car sales will be electric vehicles. By 2050 that percentage is over half of all care sales, at 57%. Top auto companies have pledged 2.2 billion dollars to electric vehicle infrastructure to meet demands by 2025. Electric cars are here to stay but they need a lot of infrastructure outside of the bigger EV industry to make this future happen without speedbumps. The biggest concern being around charging stations. They are currently one of the biggest hurdles the EV industry need to tackle in order to penetrate the markets outside of big cities.  

There are three types of chargers commonly used in the marketplace; Level 1, level 2, and level 3. Which one you should use depends on a few factors. Before you make any decisions about what level you need, think about your needs. How many miles do you drive in a day? Most Americans drive less than 35 miles a day. Do you drive more than that? How many charging stations are available to you? Does your work offer charge stations? Do you know what level they are? Will they always be available? How many miles does your car get? Some electric vehicles get a max of 100 miles while others get 300 miles. All these questions and more should affect your decision.  

Level 1

Level 1 chargers are the most common. Most, if not all, electric vehicles come with a level 1 charging cord. These use the standard 110V – 120V wall outlet you most likely already have in your home. Because level 1 chargers plug into standard wall plugs they are not as powerful as levels 2 or 3. The lower volts the plug offers mean that the pressure of the electricity is lower resulting in a slower charge. You can get an average of 4.5 miles per charging hour from level 1. Is a level 1 charger right for you? Well, the big question is, how many miles do you drive in a day?  Most Americans commute no more than 35 miles each day. If you drive an average of 35 miles a day then you would need around eight hours of charging time to meet your bare minimum needs. So while a level 1 charger has low power capacity, there is no reason it wouldn’t work in this situation. 

If you tend to drive more than 35 miles a day, or you like to go on long drives, a level 1 might not be ideal. Especially if you have range anxiety. Range anxiety is one of the biggest concerns people have about buying an electric vehicle. But as electric vehicles gain popularity so do charging stations. You can find charging stations in all kinds of places now. From grocery stores to hotels. Finding one is getting easier and easier. If you are close to a city, range anxiety should be a distant fear. Many of these public charging stations are Level 2 chargers, which have an increased speed to as much as five times that of a level 1 charger.  

 

Level 2

Level 2 chargers have around 250 volts and can charge up to 25 miles per charging hour. While level 1 chargers use standard wall plugs, level 2 use appliance plugs, the same plugs you use for your washer, dryer, and other appliances. While the 120V chargers may be more available in your home, there are still level 2 plug options just not as many. Should you install a level 2 charger in your home? How often do you drive? How far? Are there available public chargers where you go? With more and more public chargers popping up you may not need a level 2 in your home. There may be enough chargers to support your needs. But this also means you are relying on chargers being available and charging your car enough. Are level 1 chargers sufficient? Maybe. But level 2 chargers give you an extra sense of security and convenience. A level 2 charger can fully charge a vehicle in 6-8 hours, much faster than a level 1. A level 2 charger can cost up to $2K and will cost you an average of $.40 – $.30/KW which equals around $6-10 for a full charge. A level 1 costs an average from $1.20 to $13.   

Level 3

Level 3 chargers are currently the fastest way to charge your car. They can charge a car up to 80% in 30 minutes. Instead of AC charge, like levels 1 & 2, level 3 uses DC. While they are rarely seen in the home they are becoming more popular in public spaces, often used as a selling tool for businesses. Having a level 3 charger outside a restaurant is an incentive to get an electric car owner to eat there while their car charges.  

While level 3 chargers are not as popular as levels 1 and 2, that is quickly changing. With the rise of electric cars comes even more need for public charging stations. While level 2 chargers will suffice for most people in cities and suburbs, long-range trips are a different story. Range anxiety held many people back from buying electric vehicles. With so many public chargers and longer-range cars, this anxiety has been quelled for many. But for long-range trips? The anxiety is still very real. This is where Level 3 chargers have become important. Having level 3 chargers at a rest stop where you can charge your car in a fraction of the time cuts down on range anxiety even more. When people can trust there will be a charger whenever they need it, and it won’t take overnight to charge, the rate of sales goes up dramatically. Adding apps that show where chargers are located gives even more confidence.  

Electric vehicles have come a long way and they will continue to evolve and gain popularity. With more electric vehicle options and technologies we can expect the chargers to only get better and better. Finding the right choice for you today is easy. Think about your needs and make the right decision for you. Don’t drive very far? Level 1 is probably fine. Drive more, or simply want the convenience of charging your car faster, invest in a level 2 charger. One thing is for sure, electric cars are only going to gain popularity.  

Still unsure where to start? Transblue is here to help. With multiple years of experience, we will make sure you get the charger right for your situation. 

Level

1

2*

3 – DC**

Volt

110 – 120

208 – 240

200 – 800

Power

AC

AC

DC

Average Kilowatt

1.65 Kw

10.5 Kw

350 Kw

Average Cost of Overnight Charge

$1.33

$4.20

N/A

Average Cost of Full Charge

$7

$8

$10

Average Installation Cost

$0

2K

50K

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