Electric Vehicle Charging Levels Explained

Electric Vehicle Charging Levels Explained

As a driver of a gas-powered vehicle, you were familiar with the different “grades” of gasoline, such as regular, plus, and premium.

Electric vehicle (EV) chargers are also characterized by different “levels”; however, their levels describe how quickly the charger will recharge the EV’s battery.

In general, EV chargers are defined by the number of kilowatts (kW) they output. Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) received by a standard passenger-sized EV is equal to roughly 6.4 km (4 miles) of driving range. The higher the output from the charger, the faster the EV battery will recharge.

Here is a basic guide to introduce you to the standard EV charger levels: Level 1 (L1), Level 2 (L2), and Level 3 (also known as DC Fast Charging – DCFC).

Level 1 Charging

Level 1 (L1) is the slowest type of EV charging equipment. L1 chargers plug directly into a standard 120V household outlet which supplies an average power output of 1.3 kW. This power output is equivalent to 4.8-8 km (3-5 miles) of range per hour. Therefore, an overnight charge will add roughly 48-80 km (30-50 miles) of range.

This would not be sufficient for most drivers. A majority of L1 chargers are the “emergency” cables that come standard with the purchase of an EV.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 (L2) chargers operate at 208-240V and output between 3.6 kW to 12 kW of AC power. This power output is equivalent to 18-60 km (11-36 miles) of range per hour. Therefore, an average EV can be fully charged in 8 hours or less.

L2 is the most common type of EV charger in Canada and can be found in many public places, such as parking garages, grocery stores, shopping malls, and hotels. L2 chargers are also becoming more popular at workplaces where employees can leave their EVs charging for long period of time. Most EV drivers also purchase a L2 charger for their homes because it allows them to fully charge their EVs overnight.

An important factor to consider is the capacity available in a residential electrical panel. The ChargePoint Home Flex can be adapted to the available capacity which makes installations easier than most other L2 chargers which are not adaptable.

Level 3 Charging (also known as DC Fast Charging)

DCFCs are the fastest chargers available with an output up to 350 kW. They are designed to fill an EV battery to 80% in 20-40 minutes, and 100% in 60 minutes. The maximum charge rate is often limited by the EV acceptance rate.

Due to their high cost and very high-power draw, DCFCs are intended for locations other than residential homes. They are often located adjacent to major highways to enable EV road-trips. The number of DCFCs in Canada are expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

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