- Types of EV Charging Conectors
- The Fundamental Difference Between Level 1 and Level 2 Chargers for Electric Cars
- What to Look for When Buying a Level 2 Charger
- Best Level 2 EV Charger for Your Home: Our Top
- How To Test EV Chargers?
- 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 charger operates 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.
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.
To get the best Level 2 EV charger that adapts to your charging needs, you should know what to look for. In this section, we explain some important aspects to consider when acquiring these chargers.
Most level 2 EV chargers are tethered (including a built-in charging cable), which is why considering the length of the cable should be an important factor. The charging cable should comfortably sit between the EV charging port and your EV charger. This will avoid the cable from being pulled and get damaged in the long run.
While it is not imperative, acquiring an EVSE with smart capabilities can be of great help, since these can come in handy. Some smart capabilities include configuring the charging schedule for your EV, monitoring the charging in real time, and more.
Some of the best smart features that you might find are Power Sharing, Solar Smart Charging, RFID authentication, load management features with Time-of-Use optimization. Each of these functions improves the EV charging experience by granting you more control over the whole process.
Certified EV chargers ensure you get an EVSE in compliance with the National Electric Code (NEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations. Some important certifications include the UL certification (UL2594 and UL2231-1), TÜV SÜD certification, EV Connect certification, or the ENERGY STAR certification.
Most certifications test EV chargers against safety standards and regulations, ensuring they comply with all standards, safety, and NEC regulations. ENERGY STAR even tests EV chargers against energy efficiency to ensure energy savings and lower Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
Not all EV drivers have enough space availability to charge the EVs indoors, which is why selecting an EV charger that is rated for both indoor and outdoor usage, can be of great help. Most EV chargers featuring an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IP65 or IP66, are excellent for outdoor usage. This is an essential feature for commercial applications.
Before purchasing your EV charger, it is recommendable to consider multiple options. In this section, you can see a list featuring the best level 2 charger models for your home so that you can pick the best for you.
ChargePoint – Home Flex EV Charger
The ChargePoint Home Flex is a 240V level 2 charger featuring a variable power of 3.7kW up to 12kW. This EV charger manufactured by ChargePoint, one of the leading companies in the EV charging industry, features an ENERGY STAR and UL certification.
This EV charge is rated for indoor/outdoor usage with a NEMA 3R rating (similar to IP14), making it a suitable choice for both enclosures. Charging with the Home Flex can be monitored via the mobile app, you can also use smart features like schedule charging, receive charging reminders, and even control it over Alexa voice control.
Enel X – JuiceBox 40 Smart EV Charging Station
The ENERGY STAR certified Enel X JuiceBox 40 Smart EV Charging Station is one of the best wall-mounted EVSE rated for indoor/outdoor usage. This 110 – 240 volt car charger can deliver from 4.4 up to 9.6kW to charge your EV battery.
The JuiceBox 40 features a detailed monitoring system that measures power, energy, voltage, and current. It also includes smart charging features, including scheduled charging, Time-of-Usage charging, online/offline status, and more. All these features can be accessed via the internet using the mobile app or web-based desktop portal.
Blink – HQ 150
Then we have the Blink HQ 150 240V EV charger, one of the easier-to-manage and more aesthetically pleasing EV chargers on the list. The Blink EV charger features a standard power rate of 7.68kW, suitable for overnight EV charging.
Featuring a NEMA 3R/IP14 protection rating, this EV charger is suitable for indoor/outdoor usage. This EV charger does not include a Wi-Fi connection or smart features, but it has a delay (similar to schedule charging) feature and delivers a great performance, making it one of the best level 2 charger models in the list.
Wallbox – Pulsar Plus Level 2 EV Smart Charger
The Pulsar Plus Level 2 Smart EV charger designed by Wallbox is a compact and capable option that includes excellent features and delivers great performance. The Pulsar plus 240 volt charger delivers 7.4kW with a Type 1 plug and up to 22kW (three-phase) with a Type 2 plug.
This smart EV charger features internet connectivity over Wi-Fi, scheduled charging, and smart load balancing. Wallbox even takes safety and durability to the next level by including DC leakage protection, IP54 rating, and IK08 protection rating.
Grizzl-E – Smart
The Grizzl-E Smart is a heavy-duty, compact, and robust smart EV charger designed with smart charging capabilities, found among the best level 2 EV charger models. This 240 volt charging station delivers a variable output going up to 40 amps or 10kW.
The high performance is backed by UL and ENERGY STAR certifications. This smart EVSE features an IP67 aluminum casing resistant to water and fire, additionally, it includes protection against over-current, over-voltage, ground fault, and over-temperature.
The Grizzl-E Smart EV charger connects to the internet over Wi-Fi and can be used with any OCPP 1.6 app. The charger features all OCPPj 1.6 smart commands, including remote monitoring, schedule charging, charging profiles, and more.
ClipperCreek – HCS Level 2 EV Charging Station
The ClipperCreek HCS is a smart EV charging station with real-time monitoring from the mobile app or website platform. This 240V smart electric car charger can be acquired in different presentations of 16 amps (3.3kW) up to 64 amps (15.4kW).
While it features limited smart functions, the ClipperCreek HCS charger is the best option for families with multiple EVs. Among the different smart charging features, you might find remote real-time monitoring, but power sharing is the one that matters the most. This charger is protected with a NEMA 4X design, suitable for indoor/outdoor applications.
Lectron – NEMA 14-50 Level 2 EV Charger
The Lectron NEMA 14-50 240 volt EV charger can be acquired in the 32 amps (7.6kW) or 40 amps (9.2kW) presentation. This is a simpler yet highly capable EV charger with a portable design, making it the best level 2 charger for road trips. This EV charger includes fault protection and real-time monitoring via the built-in screen.
Comparison of the best level 2 EV chargers
After reading about the best level 2 EV charger models in our curated list, you should be able to compare one level 2 electric vehicle charging station with the other. In this section, we compare each option so you will find the best level 2 EV charger for your home.
Table 1: Comparing the best level 2 EV chargers
Table 1 illustrates the different specifications for each charger in the list.
For instance, the most functional and powerful EVSE is the Wallbox Pulsar Plus, but the Grizzl-E features better electrical protections and warranty. Choosing the best option for you depends on what you are looking for.
To ensure an EV charger is working as it should, we can test them using a measurement device such as the Fluke FEV100, an electrical measuring tool designed to test EV chargers. Some testing considerations include:
- Safety: Safety tests include Ground Fault Current Interruption trip tests to ensure safety against electric shocks, other tests include ground fault detection and Protective Earthing (PE) tests at the terminal.
- Operability: Tests performed with the Fluke FEV100 include measuring the operating voltage and current. This ensures the EV charger will charge the EV at the right electrical parameters.
- Simplicity and functionality: Additional tests are performed to verify the EV charging stations are easy to use considering standards and that they deliver a good performance on their charging features.
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.