EV Charging Basics
Charging an electric vehicle is safe, easy, and cheaper than traditional gasoline. Most EV drivers charge their vehicles at home while some opt to charge at work, and there are increasing options for charging up around town or on highway systems. There are three different charging options and they mostly vary by the speed at which they charge the vehicle.
Level 1 Charging 110V (~1.4kW)
5 miles per hour
Every EV comes with a cord that allows for Level 1 charging. It involves plugging your car into a standard wall outlet with one end of the cord and into the car with the other. Most Level 1 charging happens at home. It is sometimes called "trickle charging" and an overnight charge on Level 1 will replenish 40 to 80 miles of range.
The port on the vehicle looks like this:
Learn more about Level 1 electric vehicle charging:
Level 2 Charging 220V (~7.2kW)
10-20 miles per hour
Level 2 charging is faster than Level 1 because there is more power (240 volts of electricity-like a clothes dryer or oven) flowing to the vehicle. Many EV drivers have opted to have a charging station installed in their garage or outside their home so they can take advantage of faster charging. The stations range from basic non-networked systems to networked systems that connect to smartphones. Both can be installed by a licensed electrician.
Level 2 charging is the most common way charging is offered in public locations. On average, Level 2 charging will recharge a vehicle in two to six hours.
The port on the vehicle is the same as the Level 1 Charging.
If you have installed a Level 2 EVSE in your home it may be mounted to the wall and look like this:
If you are charging in the community a Level 2 EVSE may look like this:
Learn more about Level 2 electric vehicle charging:
Level 3 Charging or DC Fast Charging (50kW up to 350kW)
80% capacity in a half hour
Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging delivers rapid charging and is most commonly installed in stations along highway systems. There are three types of DC charging systems. They differ in the type of charge port on vehicles. They commonly add 80% battery capacity in thirty minutes.
The J1772 combo is used by Chevrolet and BMW.
The CHAdeMO is used by Nissan and Mitsubishi but is being phased out.
Tesla vehicles work on a port and connector that charge at all three levels including their Fast charging option they call a supercharger.
Additionally, not all electric vehicles are able to be charged at Level 3 and vary by model.
The ports on the vehicles look like this :
If you are charging in the community a Level 3 EVSE may look like this:
Where Can I Charge?
Various services are offered to help make charging easier. Some cars offer software in the car itself to help locate charging locations in public and there are also apps designed to find charging locations. If your car isn't equipped with such software, PlugShare is an app that has an interactive map that shows charging locations.
Learn more about finding an EV charging station:
A charger converts AC supply power to DC and uses it to charge the vehicle batteries. Most EVs have a charger on the vehicle, however, they can also exist off the vehicle, as in the case of DC quick chargers.
Note: Although the Level 1 cord set that comes with every PEV and Level 2 units are commonly referred to as “chargers” they are not actually chargers. They are actually “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment" (EVSE).
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
Most people confuse the term “charger” with EVSE. An EVSE refers to any off-board equipment used to supply energy to charge the vehicle. EVSE can refer to a cord, a station mounted to a wall, pedestal or pole, and even the different outlets and plugs that make up the circuit.