EV Charger Options: Level 1 vs. Level 2 EV Charger

July 13, 2020 | Cristina Dinulescu

level 1 vs level 2 ev charger

A Goldman Sachs Insights report notes that “by 2025, 25% of cars sold will have electric engines, up from 5% today”. Pollution and greenhouse gases have long been a concern of both the public and the auto industry. This has led to a profound transformation. It only follows that EV charging will become more and more of a prominent factor for both consumers and businesses that offer charging stations as an amenity.

As of now, there are 3 EV charger types available on the market, rapid, fast and slow. They’re also categorized by levels: Level 3, Level 2 and Level 1 respectively. Level 3 EV chargers are usually reserved for commercial use, and they’re not all compatible with every type of electric vehicle. So let’s take a deeper dive into the main options: level 1 vs. level 2 EV charger.

What Is a Level 1 EV Charger?

A Level 1 charger comes with your new electric car, and it’s a standard charging cable that can simply be plugged into a normal household outlet. The cable uses the standard connection of 120 volts, and a 20 Amp circuit. 

Because it uses this type of connection, a Level 1 EV charger is quite slow in charging your electric car. So, while you get convenience and no extra cost with this type of charger, you’ll also get only about 4.5 miles of driving out of each hour of charge.  A Level 1 charger is for you if:

  • You usually only drive short distances
  • Your electric car battery size is on the lower range
  • Your car is a PHEV, also known as a hybrid
  • You don’t want or can’t have any additional installation

The greatest advantage of this type of charger is its mobility. You can easily take it with you anywhere, in the trunk of your car. Due to the fact that it uses a standard outlet, you can easily charge your car not just at home, but also in public places or any favorable place. Also, if you ever need to replace your cable, they are fairly inexpensive. 

What Is a Level 2 EV Charger?

A Level 2 charger is an individual charging unit that uses a higher output than the Level 1. It has a 240-volt connection, and 40 Amp circuit. The unit is usually mounted on the outside wall of your house, but there are different models available so there’s some variation. 

Many electric car owners purchase a Level 2 EV charger at the same time with the vehicle, or very soon after, as the charging times are music faster, and the wall-mounted unit will replenish the battery of your car about 5 times quicker than the standard charging cable. This type of charger gives you on average 15 miles of driving out of every hour of charge, as opposed to Level 1’s 4.5 miles. 

The downside of the unit is that it can’t be plugged into a standard household outlet, because of the difference in voltage, therefore it requires professional installation. However, this usually adds to your home’s resale value, as electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular. A Level 2 EV charger is the best option for you if:

  • You drive long distances most of the time
  • You don’t have any commercial charging stations at work or anywhere near your house
  • You want faster charging times
  • Your car’s battery size is on the higher range

Level 1 vs. Level 2 EV Charger Comparison: Which Is Better For You?

The unique situation of your lifestyle and driver experience will determine which EV charger type is better for you. Take a look at the differences and similarities between the two in the comparison table below. This will help you keep all features in mind when making a decision.  

Level 1 EV ChargerLevel 2 EV Charger
Electric and Power Specifications 120 Volt, 20 Amp circuit208 – 240 Volt, 40 Amp circuit
Charging Time 25 hours (for 100 miles battery capacity)4-5 hours (for 100 miles battery capacity)
RPH 4.5 miles10-20 miles
Cost No additional cost$500 – $1000
Installation Not requiredProfessional installation by qualified electrician required
Security Safety switch
Weatherproof
Safety switch
Weatherproof
Mobility PortableNot portable
Available FeaturesNoneMechanical locking feature
Wi-Fi
Smartphone compatibility

Cost vs. Reward

When you’re considering EV charger types, it’s always a good idea to look at cost versus reward. A Level 2 EV charger may add to your spend not just through its purchase price, but also the cost of installation. However it also delivers added benefits. 

Faster charging times and quicker response can significantly impact your time availability. As mentioned above, the cost can be reconciled in the end with the increased resale value of your home. Not only that, but some models can in fact be fitted into solar panel systems, which reduces spend on electricity. 

Charging an electric vehicle via solar panels is an attractive option not just because of cost savings, but also due to more and more people being eco-conscious. Combining a solar panel system with an EV charging station is a great investment in that sense. It also brings forward a cost-effective way to make use of the solar energy. The number of solar panels you need or the quantity of electricity depends on the size of your vehicle’s battery. However, even a small array of let’s say 10 panels can be enough to charge your EV.

You can always talk to a well-trained, certified electrician before choosing your charging station. It will help get a better idea of what to expect. Although cost and flexibility are factors worth considering, the electrical safety of your home is utterly important.

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