Many new EV owners are surprised to find out that despite the rising popularity of electric cars, charging a battery isn’t exactly as convenient as pumping gas (yet!).
Fortunately, electric car owners can still get the most out of their charge with just a little bit of EV knowledge, the right equipment, and some good old fashion planning.
Let’s look at some of the main factors that impact EV charging the most.
It’s All About the Levels
The largest factor in determining your EV charging speed is the type of charger you use. EV chargers fall into three categories: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (or DC Fast Charging).
Level 1 Chargers
Level 1 chargers are the easiest (but slowest) way to charge your EV battery.
Level 1 chargers use standard residential wall outlets for power. That means you can plug into any 120V (AC) outlet in your garage, home, office, hotel, or some random park and instantly charge your EV.
But this convenience does come at a cost. The lower voltage of a Level 1 charger means that they typically generate less than six miles of range per hour.
However, this slower charge rate still translates to up to 50 miles of added range in eight hours of charging. For EV owners with shorter commutes and easy access to charging throughout the day (or night), a Level 1 charger, like the Lectron Level 1 charger, will work just fine.
Level 2 Chargers
Level 2 chargers kick up the voltage quite a bit – all the way to 240V (compared with a 120V Level 1 charger).
This jump in charging power means EV owners can expect much more range in far less time. Most Level 2 chargers can recharge the average EV battery in as little as four to six hours.
Level 2 chargers also come in a wider range of styles when compared with Level 1 chargers. They can be portable much like a Level 1 charger, or they can be stationary with an even higher amp capacity – like the Lectron V-BOX. , which comes in 48A and 40A versions.
Because of their faster charging speeds, charging convenience, and affordability (the Lectron Level 2 Charger 40A retails for only $314.99), Level 2 chargers are a great choice as an everyday charger.
Level 3 (DC) Chargers
Level 3 chargers are the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive charging options for EV owners.
All EVs run on DC electricity; level 3 chargers improve efficiency by cutting out the whole AC-to-DC conversion process. Level 1 and Level 2 AC power gets converted to DC power inside the EV. Foregoing this whole conversion process results in a faster charge.
Rated for as much as 900V of DC power, Level 3 chargers can generate as much as 20 miles of range per minute and charge most EV batteries to 80% in as little as 10 to 40 minutes.
Unfortunately, the shere cost of building, operating, and maintaining a Level 3 charger makes them unrealistic as an in-home charging solution.
U.C. Davis Transportation and Travel Behavior researcher, Gil Tal, compared building an in-home Level 3 charging system to building a private gas station, in terms of cost and maintenance requirements.
What Else Affects Your Charging Speed?
Your charger isn’t the only factor in determining how fast you can charge your EV. There are two more things you need to consider.
Your Maximum Charge Rate
Maximum charging rates can vary significantly between EV brands, body styles, and models.
EV owners should keep this in mind when considering charging options, and seek out chargers with power outputs that align with their vehicle’s maximum (and most efficient) charging rate.
For example, if your EV’s acceptance rate is capped at 50kW, buying a charger with a much higher rating wouldn't make sense, as you couldn't maximize your charge.
Your Battery Level
Having a clear idea of your day-to-day driving habit is crucial in choosing the right charging solution.
If your daily commute falls comfortably below your EV’s range, a less powerful Level 1 charger will work just fine for you. However, if you are regularly pushing your EV to the limit and need to be able to charge up quickly, a powerful Level 2 charger or charging station might be better suited for your lifestyle.
Want to Learn More About All Things EV?
We’re on a mission to make EV charging fast, easy, and affordable for everyone. As one of the leading manufacturers of in-home charging stations, portable chargers, and adapters, we’re helping to spread EV adoption by solving range anxiety and compatibility issues for all EV owners.
Be sure to check out the Lectron website to stay up-to-date on the latest EV news, products, and announcements.