Ever wonder what really makes level 1 and level 2 EV chargers different?
Once you’ve transitioned from gasoline to electric vehicles (EVs), the next step is usually identifying the charging stations that are well suited for your EV. Knowing the differences between the most popular types of chargers – level 1 and level 2 is the first step in selecting the most suitable one for your home charging solution. But what’s the advantage of one over the other? This article aims to answer this question and more. So, let’s dive in without wasting any more of your time.
I. Level 1 EV Chargers
Typically, level 1 chargers are basic EV chargers that come with all EVs as they arrive from their manufacturers. Its design is to fit home electrical sockets that supply 20 amps current and 120 volts. But since the power supplied by the home electrical distribution company is very low, the charger will also charge the EV very slowly. Most EV drivers who drive short distances, have lower capacity batteries, or cannot afford additional installation are the ideal users of Level 1 EV chargers.
II. Level 2 EV Chargers
Unlike level 1 chargers, a level 2 charging station is not standard and does not come with any EV. Rather, you will need to purchase it separately with installation by an expert. Level 2 charging station is much faster than Level 1 because its supply power is 240 volts and 40 amps, charging up to 5 times faster than a level charger. Also, it is usually mounted on a wall outside the home where the EV can plug and charge its battery. Most EV drivers who drive long distances with a higher capacity battery, with no commercial chargers within their vicinity, or want quicker charging times are the ideal users of level 2 charging stations.
III. Level 1 vs. Level 2 Charger
The choice between these two chargers often depends on their charging speeds for most people. However, there is more to it than that. Here are some considerations to help you assess the two types of chargers.
- Charging Time
Choosing the right charging station based on the charging time you require can be critical. Firstly, if you have a high-capacity battery like a 100-mile battery installed in your EV, using a level 1 charging unit will likely take all day to charge your battery. However, with a level 2 charger, it will only take between 4 to 5 hours to fully charge the battery. A level 2 charging time is much lower than that of a level 1 charger, and you might want to assess your requirements based on their outputs and battery capacity. While level 1 uses home sockets with a very low power output of 120 volts, level 2 often requires a separate installation of a charging unit with a power output of 240 volts.
- Primary Location
Your location is another important consideration for selecting a suitable charging station. For instance, if you are in North America, the chances are that you will be able to use a level 1 charging unit as the power distribution supports a level 1 charger with 120 volts. However, suppose your primary location is in a European country. In that case, inevitably, you will not be able to use a level 11 charger as the local power distribution company’s power supply is much higher than a level 1 charger requires. Hence a level 2 charger will be most appropriate for a European resident.
You might also need to consider the cost of purchasing your preferred charging station of the two types. For level 1, the cost is often included in purchasing your EV, and there is no additional cost. However, for level 2 charging stations, you will need to budget additional costs for purchasing them as it can add high costs to your EV expenses. A level 2 charger can cost as much as 1,000 US dollars in some cases, and this doesn’t include the cost of installation. So, consider the additional cost before going for a level 2 charging unit.
- Safety & Security
The safety of EV users has been factored in the manufacture of both level 1 and level 2 charging units as both are weatherproof and waterproof to avoid an incidence of electrocution. Also, they both come with safety switches to protect the users in emergencies.
One benefit of a level 1 charging unit is its portability as it can easily be transported between locations, including from home to work and back. Level 2 charging unit doesn’t have this benefit and, as such, is not easily transportable between locations. However, charging units can charge as fast as 3 times faster than a level 1 charger but not as fast as a level 2 charger. It is installed externally and stationary and mostly mounted on the wall outside a building for EVs to plug in during charging. You can purchase this charging unit if mobility is a critical requirement.
The installation required for a level 1 and 2 charging station is quite different. For a level 1, the installation is very little to nonexistent as the charger itself can be plugged into an exiting home socket. It doesn’t require training to install and can be operated by just about anyone. Level 2, on the other hand, often requires an expert level installation requiring a professional with years of experience to help install it and make it functional. The installation of a level 2 charger also requires some additional cost, significantly increasing your EV purchase cost.
IV. Benefits of Charging Your EV with Level 1 or Level 2 Charging Stations
For level 1 charging units, their greatest benefit is their portability. Taking it around in the trunk of your car and using it anywhere, including at home and in public places, is a huge benefit over the level 2 charging unit. This benefit is understandable since you can easily plug it into any power outlet available both at work and at home. Also, their prices are very affordable in case you need a replacement.
You cannot easily plug a level 2 charging unit into any publicly available socket due to its voltage requirements and its highly technical installation requirements. These requirements pose a disadvantage for EV owners and will most times prefer a level 1 where there is no need for urgent EV charging. On the flip side, a level 2 charger can add second-hand value to your property, as an existing level 2 charger can be an incentive for the buyer if they have EVs themselves.
V. 4 Tips to Choose EV Charging Stations
Choosing an EV charging station that meets your requirements shouldn’t be difficult. All you need is a critical consideration of the right parameters, which often vary for different individuals based on their requirements. Here are some insightful tips to help you ascertain and select the right charging station that suits you.
- Charge Your Battery on a Budget with a Level 1 Charger
Using a level 1 charging unit can significantly reduce your charging cost. The reason is that level 1 chargers are home charging units and, as such, are often utilized during off-peak hours at night when the load on the grid is significantly reduced. At this time, the electrical power tariff is much lower than during the day when the load on the grid is very high. So, even though level 1 takes longer than level 2 chargers to charge an EV, it is still much cheaper than level 2.
- Get on the Road Faster with a Level 2 Charger
Level 2 might be more expensive to install and operate, but still, it poses some of the most important benefits for people who spend a great deal of time on the road. Since it delivers power at 240 volts to your EV, that speeds up the charging time of your batteries to as much as 5 times that of a level 1 charger. This means that you can quickly top up your depleted batteries and get back on your journey.
- Make Charging More Convenient with a Portable Option
Flexibility is a good thing when charging an EV because circumstances can change and require a portable charging unit to boost your EV battery. Therefore, it is always advisable to make options available for charging your EV by getting a portable EV charger that you can carry along, especially if you’ll be spending a long time traveling on the road with assurances that there will be suitable charging stations along the way. A 240-volt portable charging unit with triple the charging capacity of a level 1 charger is available for purchase.
- Level 2 Charging Stations Boost Driver Satisfaction and Bring in More Customers.
There is a satisfaction drivers get when they don’t have to spend the whole day trying to charge their EVs. Individuals who have other businesses to attend can quickly charge and get it while a level 1 charger is still struggling to charge a battery. Also, businesses that operate charging stations often bring in more customers with their level 2 charging stations. Some of these charging stations have digital display screens where you can post digital ads.
In conclusion, selecting between a level 1 or level 2 charging station needs a critical consideration of the most important requirements for your EV charging. While the speed of charging is important and often at the center of most people’s choice, it is by no means the only requirement. Other requirements like cost, portability, and installation are equally important and can be more critical than charging speed. Ultimately, you want to have a pleasant experience while charging your EV.