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How do EV charging stations work? Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast charging
Dec 01, 2018

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are an integral part of owning an EV. All-electric cars don’t have a gas tank – rather than filling your car up with gallons of gas, you simply plug your car into its charging station to fuel up. The average EV driver does 80 percent of their car charging at home. Here’s your guide to the type of electric car charging stations, and how much you can expect to pay to charge your EV.

Types of electric car charging stations

Charging an electric car is a simple process: you simply plug your car into a charger that is connected to the electric grid. However, not all EV charging stations (also known as electric vehicle supply equipment, or EVSE) are created equal. Some can be installed simply by plugging into a standard wall outlet, while others require a custom installation. The time it takes to charge your car will also vary based on the charger you use.

EV chargers typically fall under one of three main categories: Level 1 charging stations, Level 2 charging stations, and DC Fast Chargers (also referred to as Level 3 charging stations).

Level 1 EV charging stations

Level 1 chargers use a 120 V AC plug and can be plugged into a standard outlet. Unlike other chargers, Level 1 chargers do not require the installation of any additional equipment. These chargers typically deliver two to five miles of range per hour of charging and are most often used at home.

Level 1 chargers are the least expensive EVSE option, but they also take the most time to charge your car’s battery. Homeowners typically use these types of chargers to charge their cars overnight.

Manufacturers of Level 1 EV chargers include AeroVironment,Duosida,Levition and Orion. 

Level 2 EV charging stations

Level 2 chargers are used for both residential and commercial charging stations. They use a 240 V (for residential) or 208 V (for commercial) plug, and unlike Level 1 chargers, they can’t be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Instead, they are usually installed by a professional electrician. They can also be installed as part of a solar panel system.  

Level 2 electric car chargers deliver 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging. They can fully charge an electric car battery in as little as two hours, making them an ideal option for both homeowners who need fast charging and businesses who want to offer charging stations to customers.

Many electric car manufacturers, like Nissan, have their own Level 2 charger products. Other Level 2 EVSE manufacturers include ClipperCreek, Chargepoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens.

DC Fast Chargers (also known as Level 3 or CHAdeMO EV charging stations)

DC Fast Chargers, also known as Level 3 or CHAdeMO charging stations, can offer 60 to 100 miles of range for your electric car in just 20 minutes of charging. However, they are typically only used in commercial and industrial applications – they require highly specialized, high-powered equipment to install and maintain.

Not all electric cars can be charged with the use of DC Fast Chargers. Most plug-in hybrid EVs don’t have this charging capability, and some all-electric vehicles cannot be charged with a DC Fast Charger. The Mitsubishi “i” and Nissan Leaf are two examples of electric cars that are DC Fast Charger enabled.