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Welcome to our definitive guide on how to charge your electric car! We have been using gasoline powered cars for over a century. Refueling these machines is quite simple and usually takes around 5 minutes. However, with the dawn of electric vehicles, the refueling process has led to some uncertainty. For example, common questions come up like “how do I charge my EV?” and “how long will it take to charge?”
Let’s break down how to charge your electric car and the different options to make this happen. There are three levels of charging available for your EV: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The greater the level, the more power is delivered to the vehicle and, therefore, the quicker it charges. It is also important to note that different EV models charge at different rates at each level.
When your vehicle is plugged at any charging station, the electric car determines the maximum amount of power it can accept, and then the charger delivers the required power. Hence, EV owners need not worry about their electric cars getting more power from the charging stations than they can handle. Without further ado, let’s get into the different options on how to charge your electric car!
Level 1 – How to Charge Your Electric Car
The Level 1 EV charging takes place with a typical 120 Volts household wall charger. All EVs can be plugged in with Level 1 charging. Level 1 delivers the least power among the levels. Therefore, it is the slowest way of charging.
Your EV Level One will add around 3 to 5 miles of range per hour to your EV battery, depending on the model. You can charge your electric car easily on Level 1 at your home, office, or even public places like restaurants and train stations, etc.
Generally speaking, the slow charging of Level 1 suits a plug-in hybrid better than an EV. Why? Because pure electric cars tend to have larger batteries, whereas plug-in hybrids have batteries smaller than 25kWh. Level 1 charging is quite sluggish for charging your electric vehicle, especially for daily-use EVs. That said, Level 1 may be appropriate for EV owners who do not drive long ranges on a daily basis.
Level 2 – How to Charge Your Electric Car
210 To 240 Volts
Level 2 charging is the most commonly used level when trying to charge your electric car. The level 2 equipment can be installed at home, at your workplace, public places like parking stands and mall parking. Charging your electric vehicle with a Level 2 charger adds between 12 and 80 miles of range per hour to your EV, depending on the power output of the charging station and your EV model.
A Level 2 charger can be installed at your home. This is convenient for daily use EVs, since a Level 2 charger can replenish an empty electric car battery overnight. It is important to choose the right amount of Level 2 charging equipment’s output for your home. The Level 2 charging equipment can deliver up to 80 Amps of power. Level 2 power output is typically on a dedicated 40-100 Amp and 210 to 240 Volts power circuit. Installing this type of power supply at your residence requires supply lines and distance from your electrical panel will impact your installation costs and is subject to regulations from different government bodies, usually requiring permits.
Most EV owners take the recommendation to install a 40 Amp power charger for their residence, which can deliver up to 9.6 kW of power to their electric car. Some EV owners choose the 48 Amp charger, which can deliver a higher output of 11.5 kW to their vehicle. However, similar to the high-power chargers, it requires a heavier gauge and wires from your breaker box.
Depending on your home’s electrical equipment and your choice of level 2 charger, you may decide to install a 40 or 48 Amp charger, a 40 Amp charger is slightly cheaper and only delivers marginally lower output than the 48 Amp charger. For most owners, the difference is negligible. Generally speaking, the Level 2 charging equipment for your home may cost between $250 and $1000, with another $200 to $1000 for professional installation.
Level 3 – How to Charge Your Electric Car
400 To 900 Volts
Level 3 is the super-fast level when looking to charge your electric car. The Level 3 chargers add around 3 to 20 miles of range in your EV per minute. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging equipment, the Level 3 charger uses a DC power supply instead of an AC supply. Level 3 also uses a very high voltage of 400 to 900 Volts, depending on the equipment.
Only a few residential areas in the US have a power supply of greater than 400 volts. Therefore, you find Level 3 charging stations in public places like dedicated EV Stations, Mall Parking, and public places like train stations. Additionally, installing a level 3 station at your home may cost you more than your EV.
According to CNBC (at the time of writing, summer 2022), there are around 55,000 EV charging stations in the US. The government intends to install and incentivize local businesses to create up to 20 times more charging stations in the country to achieve its goal of Net Zero emissions.
The cost of charging on a Level 3 station depends on the service provider. Some stations charge customers depending on the time their electric car is plugged in. Others charge according to the power delivered by the station. However, charging the EV on a Level 3 station typically costs more than level 2 charging at home due to the speed at which your EV battery is replenished. Some vehicles come with free level 3 charging from their manufacturer or through a partnership with charging company such as Electrify America, so be sure to check for those perks on new or used vehicles before purchasing.
Choosing the right level to charge your electric car depends on your requirements. For daily use owners, Level 2 and Level 3 charging is more suitable. Some Level 3 EV station networks also offer packages for regular users. However, Level 1 may also be used by owners who do not use the car on a regular basis and drive for short distances.
Summary – How to Charge Your Electric Car
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
|Typical Power Output||1 kW||7-19 kW||50-350 kW|
|Estimated PHEV Charge Time from Empty||5-6 hours||1-2 hours||N/A|
|Estimated BEV Charge Time from Empty||40-50 hours||4-10 hours||0.33-1 hours|
|Estimated Range per Charging Hour||2-5 miles||10-20 miles||180-240 miles|
|Typical Locations||Home||Home, Work, Public||Public|
Source: US Department of Transportation
PHEV=Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle; BEV=Battery Electric Vehicle
We hope you found this guide on how to charge your electric car to be helpful. Feel free to reach out to our experts at EV Universe if you have follow-up questions!