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Summary
  • A level 1 EV charger is a basic 120-volt plug like any other three-pronged appliance you might find around the house.
  •  Level 2 EV chargers share a lot in common with your average washer and dryer because they use a beefier 240-volt plug, enabling a level 2 charger to deliver the same 80% charge as a level 1 charger in roughly 4 or 5 hours.
  • An ultra-fast level 3 set-up turns out 480-volts of power, which is enough to recharge your EV in about 30 minutes.

With a gallon of gas surpassing $5.00 a gallon in many areas, you might find yourself at the pump daydreaming about never returning again and going electric as millions of Americans have. Then, suddenly, your anxiety sets in. “But the charging…” you think to yourself, followed by “What kind of wall charger do I need? What if I live in an apartment? Did I forget to lock the door on my way out?” and the list goes on. Luckily, we have answers to all these questions. (Except for your door—you might want to check that.)

More than 80% of EV drivers do most of their charging from the comfort of their own home. Electric vehicle charging solutions can be broken out into three main categories: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The first two can be easily installed at home, while the last is what you’re more likely to find in a mall parking lot.

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Level 1 EV Charging

man plugs in level 1 ev charger in garage bmw i3.jpg

Essentially, a level 1 EV charger is a basic 120-volt plug like any other three-pronged appliance you might find around the house. Like your laptop, all new electric vehicles ship with a level 1 charging brick. The main benefit of level 1 charging is that it’s universal—any outlet anywhere will do the job.

That’s also where the benefits end. Level 1 charging is painfully slow. It’s the “watching paint dry” approach to EV charging, taking over 24 hours to provide a charge level of 80%. This equates to about 9 kilometers per hour—great in a pinch, but sure to put a damper on your EV experience.

Level 2 EV Charging

white electric car charging at home in garage.jpg

Enter level 2 charging, the bread and butter of EV charging at home. Level 2 EV chargers share a lot in common with your average washer and dryer, as they use a beefier 240-volt plug, enabling a level 2 charger to deliver the same 80% charge as a level 1 charger in roughly 4 or 5 hours.

Figuring out the set-up for a level 2 charger is where confusion can sometimes creep in, but it’s much easier with the right resources at your fingertips. Unlike a regular 120-volt outlet, a level 2 charger is connected to a special outlet or your home’s main electrical panel. For this, you’ll first need to pick out a charging unit (pro tip: be sure to look at the cable length and measure how much cable you really need). You can pick this up on Amazon while you’re reordering toothpaste. Once it arrives, plan on reaching out to an electrician help install your EV charger at home.

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Apartment living, however, may require a bit of fancy footwork. It never hurts to ask your landlord to install a charging station, and I recommend downloading this template from ChargePoint to initiate the conversation. Easy, right? If that route fails (and it might), you can turn to apps like PlugShare that identify any and all open charging stations in your neighborhood. PlugShare has 300,000+ active users, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.

Level 3 EV Charging

telsa supercharer station white model s.jpg

The level 3 EV charger is the promised land. An ultra-fast level 3 set-up turns out 480-volts of power, which is enough to recharge your EV in about 30 minutes. Their high voltage means they’re commercial use only, and that’s not changing anytime soon due to installation costs and federal regulations. It’s likely you’re already familiar with Tesla’s Superchargers, but other large networks such as Electrify America deserve a nod for all the non-Tesla owners out there. Contrary to popular belief, level 3 public chargers are rarely free, so budget a few bucks to charge.

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We’re fortunate to live in a time where EV charging technology is improving rapidly. For most of us, there’s already a charging solution that fits our needs. A combination of level 1 and level 2 charging will get most drivers around town without worry, and out-of-home level 3 set-ups will help fill in the gaps on any road trips. Rest assured, this isn’t 1997, and you aren’t driving the ill-fated GM EV1. Thanks to a full range of modern EV charging options, “range anxiety” will soon become a term of the distant past.

About The Author
Reviewed By Automotive Contributor

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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