- Best Electrical Outlets for Electric Car Chargers
- Types of EV Charging Connectors
- What is a Level 2 Charger?
- The Fundamental Difference Between Level 1 and Level 2 Chargers for Electric Cars
- Best Level 2 EV Charger: Our Top
- Level 2 EV Charger: Most Common Questions
Electric vehicles (EVs) are a great investment for mobility, they consume less power, use energy more efficiently, and release fewer or no CO2 or greenhouse emissions. Whether you are looking to charge an EV with renewable energy or regular power from the grid, it is important to have the right Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), better known as an EV charger.
A Level 2 car charger is highly efficient since it can juice up the battery of an EV in less time than regular chargers, allowing EVs to be road-ready in just a few hours. In this article, we answer some of the top questions regarding Level 2 electric car chargers and explain why they might be the best option for you.
EV chargers may require dedicated circuits to charge. This means dedicated wiring, a protection system (breaker), and an outlet that matches the voltage of the charger. In this section, we explain the different types of outlets used for EV charging.
Types of 120 Volt Outlets
A Level 1 EV charger does not regularly require a dedicated circuit, since most homes feature 14 AWG or 12 AWG gauge wires for their 120V wirings. This means that homes can support loads of 15 amps (1.8kW) with 14 AWG wirings and 20 amps (2.4kW) with 12 AWG wires.
Figure 1: 15/20 Amp outlets – Source: Lowell
A 120V 15 amp circuit uses regular (NEMA 5-15R) outlets, while 20 amp circuits require a 20 amp outlet (NEMA 5-20R) that features a T-shaped receptacle. Since Level 1 EV chargers demand around 1kW (8.3 amps) to 2kW (16.67 amps), they can usually be connected to conventional 120V outlets.
240V Car Charger: Types of 240 Volt Outlets
A level 2 car chargeroperates at a voltage of 240V and delivers a rated power going from 3kW up to 7kW for residential applications, while commercial applications go up to 19kW. This means that level 2 electric vehicle chargers require 10 AWG wires (30 amps) or higher gauges and receptacles that can support 30 amps (7kW) for residential applications or 80 amps (19kW) for commercial ones.
Figure 2: 240V Receptacles – Source: ClipperCreek
There are three main 240V outlets used to power a level 2 EV charging station in residential applications, the NEMA 6-50 (240V/50 Amps), NEMA 14-30 (120V & 240V/30Amps), and the NEMA 14-50 (120V & 240V/50 amps). A 240V car charger demanding more than 50 amps is not suited for residential applications, requiring a more complex and robust electrical infrastructure.
EV chargers are categorized by levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 or DC Fast Charger (DCFC). The EV Plug or charging connector tends to vary between charging levels. In this section, we explain the different charging levels and the connectors used for each case.
Level 1 Charging Stations
Level 1 charging stations are simple and low power rate chargers that do not require dedicated electrical infrastructures as a 240V car charger does. Most EVs come with a factory-issued Level 1 Charging station, featuring a rated power of 1kW up to 2kW. These chargers take from 1 up to 2 days to charge an EV.
The EV plug used for Level 1 EV chargers is the SAE J1772 connector, which is the most common plug used for EVs. This is also the same plug featured in a level 2 electric vehicle charger.
EV chargers are categorized by levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 or DC Fast Chargers (DCFC). A Level 2 charger is a high-power rate option that can charge your vehicle in less time than a Level 1 charger, while still being suitable for residential and commercial applications. DCFCs, on the contrary, are mainly reserved for large commercial and industrial applications.
Level 2 chargers operate at a split voltage of 240V (two-phase connection in America or single-phase connection in Europe) and feature a high power rating. A regular 240V level 2 charger, usually has a 6kW power rating, but this varies a lot between different models and manufacturers.
Level 3 Charging Stations
Level 3 Charging stations, also known as DCFC stations, are known for rapidly charging EV batteries in under an hour, taking as little as 30 minutes. This is achieved by delivering high amounts of DC power directly to the EV, instead of using regular AC connections like a Level 1 or level 2 EV charging station does. The rated power used in DCFC stations goes from 50kW up to 350kW.
The EV plug used for Level 3 chargers is not the same standard used for the level 1 and level 2 electric vehicle charging stations, except for Tesla vehicles that do use the same Tesla plug as for level 2 chargers. EVs that are capable to charge in level 3 charging stations, may feature a Combined Charging System (CCS) connector or the Charge de Move (CHAdeMO) connector. This varies between manufacturers.
Level 1 and level 2 charging stations are entirely different. The most fundamental difference between them is their rated power, level 1 chargers go as high as 2kW, while the level 2 charging station delivers up to 7kW for residential applications or up to 19kW in commercial ones. This results in level 1 chargers taking up to 50 hours to charge an EV, while level 2 EV chargers do it overnight or in just a few hours.
The different rated power is the result of both EV charging stations operating at different electrical parameters (voltage and current). Level 1 EV chargers operate at 120V and deliver a current of up to 16 amps, while a Level 2 charging station operates at 240V and delivers a current of 30 amps for most residential applications and up to 80 amps for commercial ones.
Cyber Switching CSE1 is the best level 2 EV charger for multiple commercial applications including EV fleets, schools, government offices, auto dealerships, hospitals, hotels, apartments, workplaces, airports, and more. One of the best things about the CSE1 level 2 EVSE charger is that it provides a complete degree of electrical protection with all required protection devices and more including RCD, SPD, OTP, UVP, and GFCI.
Moreover, power management features are not common in simple level 2 EV chargers, however, the CSE1 provides a whole remote monitoring system that allows you to verify charging level status plus historical consumption from the EV charger. Additionally, you will gain access to remarkable features like RFID authentication and load management to set up the best time to charge your EVs to avoid unnecessarily high costs during on-peak rate schedules.
Finally, Cyber Switching also developed a solution for cases in which multiple CSE1 are required (for instance in commercial applications) and where the electrical infrastructure is not capable of handling the loads. In combination with the CSE1, the EVMC provides you with a complete solution to maximize the use of your electrical infrastructure, save money, and cover your EV charging needs at the best price.
New EV drivers tend to have several doubts regarding level 2 electric vehicle charging stations. In this section, we aim to answer some of the most common questions regarding these types of chargers.
While it is true that practically all level 2 EVSE chargers feature a J connector under the IEC 62196-1 legislation, 240 volt car chargers vary between models and manufacturers. The main difference between Level 2 240 volt chargers is the different power ratings as explained in the following section, but that is not all. Models can differ in features, power management availability, mounting options, warranties, integrated electrical protections, reliability, and more.
If you are looking to charge your vehicle in as little time as possible, a DCFC would be the best choice, since they can feature high-power rates of up to 50kW. However, DCFCs incur a very high capital cost and require a large electrical infrastructure upgrade from the utility increasing costs and causing project delays. This makes them unviable in many cases.
On the other hand, installing the best level 2 EV charger can deliver many advantages. In most cases, a 240V EV charger used for residential and commercial applications will only require a dedicated circuit branch to supply the right voltage and power rate. Only when multiple level 2 EVSE chargers are needed is when a main panel upgrade may be required depending on your electrical infrastructure. Aside from that, a 240V electric car charger can be as easy to install as a level 1 charger, while granting a faster charge speed for your EV. A level 2 electric vehicle charger provides the best balance between cost and performance in the industry.
The level 2 240 volt charging stations are extremely fast compared to regular Level 1 chargers. The most common 240V charging station features a power rate of 6kW, but Level 2 chargers can feature power ratings going from 3kW up to 20kW.
Charging speed in kilowatt-hour per mile varies between EV models. For instance, charging a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard that features a 24kWh/100miles power usage and 62.3kWh battery with a 3kW 240 volt EV charger, will charge 12.5 miles in one hour for a total charging time of 20 hours. The best level 2 charger featuring a 20kW power rate, charges 83 miles in a single hour for a total charging time of 3 hours.