The 3 levels of EV charging distinguished and explained

Deepak Gupta July 31, 2022
Updated 2022/07/31 at 8:45 PM

EVs are now ubiquitous, and you’re probably thinking about buying one for yourself. If you’re in the market for a new EV, you need to know everything about charging them.

So find out all the differences between the main charging levels available, as well as the explanation of each one.

Different EV chargers have different outputs, which will affect the time it takes to charge your car. Also, there are some pros and cons of using each of the loading methods.

Tier 1 EV charging

Level 1 loading looks more complicated than it really is. When purchasing your EV, it will include a charging adapter directly from the manufacturer. This adapter plugs into any conventional 120V outlet in your home. This means that, contrary to what many people think, You can charge your car from day one without any prior modifications to your electrical system.

The only major downside to tier 1 loading is speed - or lack thereof. Level 1 loading will help you recovering about 80km of autonomy per hour of charging. This will help you gain around 80km of range per hour of driving when you wake up the next day. 80km of autonomy is more than adequate for the average journey. The great thing about level 1 charging is that it will charge your vehicle slowly, and you won't have to worry about battery degradation resulting from constant high charge states.

Tier 2 EV charging

If you want to have your home EV ready with a level 2 charger, you will need to hire a professional for the installation process. This charging method is generally best for people who travel very long; thus, charging the vehicle to an almost full state of charge is a priority. Level 2 charging will allow the vehicle recover close to 100% of chargewhich is great if you travel more than 80km with your EV daily.

As mentioned earlier, to use a level 2 charger for your EV, should consult a professional electrician to help you with the installation process. Once the electrician installs the Level 2 charger and the required 240V outlet, you are ready to charge your vehicle.

Electric vs fuel image

Using a level 2 charger every day can degrade the battery because it is reaching an almost full state of charge each time it charges. Regardless, your EV is a transport tool at the end of the day, so don't be afraid to charge the battery as your needs dictate.

Level 3 EV charging

Level 3 loading, also known as DC fast charging, is the fastest method to charge your vehicle. As an example of how quickly you can recharge your battery using level 3 charging, consider the Hyundai IONIQ 5. A level 3 charger will recharge it from 10% to 80% in approximately 18 minutes. This is truly amazing and is perfect for long trips where you need to get on the road as quickly as possible.

Ultra-fast charging like this is only available using public chargers, so you won't be able to install one of these in your home.

The potential downside to using a DC fast charger can be battery degradation over time, but people use them so rarely that it shouldn't be a problem. So if the need arises to use a direct current fast charger, go ahead and charge without hesitation. Direct current fast chargers are becoming more and more commonand with companies such as Electrify America and the Tesla to invest in robust charging networks nationwide, will continue to proliferate.

And if you want to charge your EV for free, many publicly available fast chargers are actually free. In fact, some EV manufacturers will even offer 2 years of fast charging free of charge. One of these manufacturers is Audi, which allows free charging on the VW-owned Electrify America network if you purchase a qualifying model.

Loading Tier 1 vs Tier 2 vs Tier 3: Which is better?

There is no clear answer to this question because the truth is that all these chargers are simply tools. The right tool for one person may not be the right tool for another. It all depends on the use case of each individual EV owner. If you are a person who enjoys a short commute and rarely exceeds 80km of travel on any given day, then you are perfectly fine using a level 1 charger.

On the other hand, if you are a user traveling more than 80km in a given day, you will likely need to consult an electrician to have a level 2 charger professionally installed in your home. If you are planning to buy an EV and you know that a tier 1 charger won't be enough, then the most convenient thing would be to buy the tier 2 charger and have it installed before actually going out and buying a new EV.

Finally, we have the level 3 charger, and in this case, you don't have to worry about any domestic installations. As mentioned before, can't install a level 3 charger in your houseso these chargers are simply publicly available options that will help you when you're on the go.

An EV Charger for every occasion

The availability of different charging speeds means more choices for EV owners, and that's always a good thing. As more and more EVs are sold, charging stations will continue to replace traditional ones as the primary method of charging your vehicle.

Theoretically, you can recharge your vehicle at home every day, during the period of ownership. This is especially true if you install a level 2 charger at home.

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