As more people drive electric vehicles (EVs), there is a need for easily accessible and reliable charging options. In this write-up, we’ll explain how EV charging works, and provide information on the different types of EV chargers available.
What is EV Charging?
EV charging is the process of giving power to an electric car’s battery so it can be stored and used later when driving. It is like refueling, but this time, it’s to ensure the vehicle has enough power or stored electrical energy to keep going.
You can typically charge at home through an installed private charging station or at a public charging station. Some workplaces and apartment buildings now provide EV charging facilities for employees, tenants, and customers.
Usually, charging stations are categorized based on charging speed and charger levels, but they all serve the same purpose. For example, the residential EV charging you’d typically find in apartment buildings and private properties to serve tenants uses a Level 2 charger. You can also install a Level 2 charger at your home, which is faster than a level 1 (basic EV home charger).
How Does EV Charging Work?
EV charging is done when an EV charger pulls electricity from the grid and sends it to the electric car’s battery for storage. The battery stores the current until it’s needed to power the vehicle and run the various equipment or features. You use this stored current to move the electric car from your workplace to home, and vice versa, or to wherever you want to travel.
The Different EV Charging Levels
At the moment, there are three levels existing: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.
- Level 1 Charging, or the wall socket, is the most basic and slowest type of EV charging, typically using a standard 120-volt household wall socket. It’s best for overnight charging and not generally used as a primary charging option for most EV drivers.
Level 1 charging can take more than 24 hours to charge your electric car to 80%. This means keeping your EV plugged in for even the weekend and when you’re not in a hurry.
- Level 2 Charging, on the other hand, is more powerful than the wall socket and uses a 240-volt electrical outlet. It can charge your EV battery to 80% in 4-8 hours, making it a more convenient and faster option.
You can install Level 2 charging at your home or place of work and enjoy charging speeds over 15 times that of Level 1. That means you can plug into the charging station when the vehicle is at 20%, enjoy a meal, or attend a meeting, and four hours later, the charging is at 80%.
The majority of homes don’t have the 240-volt, the types used by the electric clothes dryer. They’d need a qualified electrician to install a dedicated circuit in the garage, driveway, or patio.
- Level 3 Charging (or DC Fast Charging) is the fastest EV charging option. This level of charging stations can juice up the battery in as little as 30 minutes. DC Fast Charging uses over 480 volts to charge your EV battery.
Level 3 Charging is further split into three types. There is the CHAdeMO (“CHArge de MOve”), Combined Charging System (CCS), and Tesla Superchargers. While you use the same port to charge with CCS, CHAdeMO needs a separate port.
Level 1 and Level 2 chargers typically deliver the current as it is from the charging station. That means the EV battery converts the alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) before use. This is one of the reasons the Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are slower.
On the other hand, DC fast charging or Level 3 charging delivers the current in DC form, and there’s no need to convert it. Skipping the conversion makes the process faster. Generally, DC allows higher charging currents leading to faster charging of the vehicle.
Can all EVs Accept DC Fast Charging?
The Level 3 charger is not for all-electric cars.
So, can you install the Level 3 charging at home?
You cannot install DC fast charging at your home because it lacks electrical capacity. There’s also the matter of cost. Installing a Level 3 charger is expensive. Besides, most people will not need to charge their vehicle within minutes, while they’ll only need the car in the morning. DC fast charging is most appropriate for commercial applications.
EV charging supplies electrical energy to an electric car’s battery. How fast your EV battery fills up depends on the level of charging station used. While the home outlet is the slowest EV charging, DC fast charging is the quickest.