Charging an EV requires connecting it to a power source, usually through an EVSE, or what’s today commonly called an EV charger. But different types of EV chargers offer different charging speeds, among other variations, such as connectivity features. For an insight into the types of EV chargers today and their abilities, continue reading below.
Do All EVs Use the Same Charger?
No, all EVs do not use the same charger. The reason is that different electric car chargers use other connectors, which must match the charging port your car uses. For example, a Tesla charger will not work on a different EV and will typically only charge a Tesla. On the other hand, CHAdeMO connectors can only charge Japanese cars, and so on.
However, most EV chargers (levels 1 &2) use identical connectors called J-plugs. These are compatible and universal for all-electric vehicles. Incompatibility is, therefore, primarily seen in what’s popularly known as level 3 charging.
In level 3 charging, also called DC fast charging, your options for the connector type typically vary from CCS to CHAdeMO. Apart from these, other options include proprietary ones like Tesla.
Given these variations, you can see why it’s usually crucial that you understand the EV charger types in use today. That way, you can choose what best suits your car and other things, such as charging convenience and how these chargers differ in speed and compatibility.
Types of EV Chargers
So, how many types of EV chargers are there? Also, how does each type differ from the others? EV chargers are classed into three categories based on their charging speeds or, in other words, the amount of power that each can draw or supply. In view of that, we have these types of EV chargers:
- Level 1
- Level 2, and
- Fast DC charger.
Level 1 EV Charger
This is the most basic type and what will usually come with your new electrically powered vehicle. A level 1 EV charger is typically designed to be inserted into your usual household outlet. This is usually a 110V-220 line if you live in the US.
When plugged in, this type of charger can draw from a few to about 20 kW of electricity. With this power, you can charge your car in around 12 to 24 hours. Regarding range, that translates to between 3 and 5 miles—or 5-8km—for every 60 minutes of charging.
A level 1 EV charger is the simplest way to charge your car. However, as you can see from the figures about its charging speeds, it’s also quite slow. It mostly suits hybrid car owners or those whose vehicles use small batteries. It will also do if you only make short trips.
Level 2 EV Charger
A level 2 EV charger is a more advanced option to connect to a 240-volt power source. So, unless you have this type of outlet already in place, you may need your line upgraded before you can use it.
With a level 2 EV charger, you get your car charged comparably more quickly, in about 2 to 4 hours. That means a range of between 25 and 30 miles for every hour. Apart from the “at-home use,” these types of EV chargers are also the most common in public places.
A type 2 charger normally comes with what’s called a J-plug, just like the level one type. However, they’re more costly to both buy and install. That aside, these types of EV chargers often come already equipped with convenience and customization features such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
DC Fast EV Charger
This is the fastest of them all. Some people also call it a level 3 EV charger. Below are several facts to help you understand how it differs from other types of EV chargers also why you cannot use it in your home and is only available as a charging station for company fleets or for use by the public.
- A DC fast EV charger delivers electricity to the EV battery in the form of a DC current. As you can guess, that also means it will bypass the onboard rectifier of your EV and only link with the battery management system.
- DC fast EV chargers can deliver high amounts of power in a very short time. Typically, it juices up your battery in less than 30 or 40 minutes on average. That’s quite fast, and one of the reasons for its use as a commercial type of charger.
- This charger type has its limitations. First, a DC charging station can cost up to $40 000 to install and not less than 480V of electricity supply. So it’s unlikely that you (or any other EV owner) will install it.
Level 1 Vs. Level 2 EV Charger
Most chargers for private or “at home use” fall into level I or level 2 categories. They also use similar connectors and only differ in terms of charging speeds and other features. Here is how the two types of EV chargers compare.
- A level one charger, in spite of its lower cost to buy or ease of use, is normally slower than its level two counterparts. In contrast, a level 2 type requires a more heavy duty wiring and plug, and these can cost more to install.
- A level 1 EV charger, despite taking the longest to charge, may work well for motorists who do not need to travel long distances every day, or those who have all night long to charge their cars. It also works if your EV battery is small and quickly charged.
- A level 2 EV charger, on the other hand, provides you with a quicker and more convenient means to replenish the EV battery. This makes it an attractive option when you want to be able to travel at short notice, or if your battery is large.
- Level 2 chargers may require you to modify your home’s wiring, though, since they usually requires a more powerful supply than a standard outlet can access. This can mean extra costs.
Different types of EV chargers draw and deliver power at different speeds. So manufacturers mostly class them based on that. If your daily trips are shorter than only a few miles, a level 1 type may suffice. However, to avoid the anxiety of not being able to charge your EV quickly enough, or if your EV battery is a bigger size, a level 2 type is often a better alternative.