Understanding the Different Charging Levels for Electric Vehicles

If you are a Canadian who has owned multiple cell phones, you know that each phone requires a different charger. Similarly, electric vehicles (EVs) come with different charging standards and plugs. To navigate the world of EV charging, it’s important to understand the differences between the charging levels and plugs.

There are three levels of charging for EVs in Canada. The first two levels are for alternating current (AC) connections, while the third level is for direct current (DC) fast charging. AC power is slower but more widely available, while DC power is faster but limited to certain locations.

Level 1 Charging

Level 1 chargers have a 120 Volt input and are typically used for home charging. However, they are the slowest of the three levels. It can take up to 40 hours to charge an EV from empty to full using a Level 1 charger. These chargers add about three to five kilometers of range per hour of charging. Level 1 charging is usually used as a backup plan or for adding a small amount of charge when away from home.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging, also AC, has a 240 Volt input. Electricians usually recommend installing a dedicated line for Level 2 chargers, as they require higher voltage. These chargers are significantly faster, with the ability to fully recharge an EV’s battery pack in approximately 10 hours. Level 2 chargers can add up to 50 kilometers of range per hour of charging. Most EV owners use Level 2 chargers at home overnight to ensure a full battery in the morning.

Level 3 Charging

Level 3 charging is the fastest type of charging and is intended for use at public fast charging stations. These charging stations supply up to 350 kW of DC power. Level 3 chargers can charge an EV’s battery to 80% in as little as 20 minutes. However, charging slows down after reaching 80% to protect the battery. Level 3 charging is convenient for long-distance travel as it allows for quick charging during breaks.

Plugs and sockets for EVs vary based on the charging level and brand of the EV. For Level 1 and Level 2 charging, most EVs use an SAE J1772 plug, while Tesla models use a different plug called NACS. Level 3 charging requires specific plugs that are not interchangeable. The CHAdeMO plug is used by Nissan and Mitsubishi, but newer models are transitioning to more modern plugs. The CCS plug has become the standard for all brands except Tesla.

Understanding the different charging levels and plugs will enable EV owners to make informed decisions about charging their vehicles.


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