Level 1 to 3 Explained
The capability of electric vehicle charging stations can be broken down into 3 separate levels from the least powerful (level 1) to the most powerful (level 3). There are several factors related to specific electric vehicles that may limit the level of charge they can access. For example, most hybrid vehicles will not be equipped to access level 3 charging and are limited to the less powerful methods of levels 1 and 2. I will cover all three levels in this post and go over the basic advantages and disadvantages of each level.
This level is the most basic way to charge an electric vehicle. It only requires a standard wall outlet and the standard cable that comes with an EV.
Can be accessed anywhere there is a standard wall outlet and requires no additional installations or costs beyond the electricity used in the charge. All hybrid and electric vehicles can access this charging solution without worry or fail.
The length of time a charge will take, as this method often requires over 16 hours to reach 100%.
This category of charging covers a relatively wide range of solutions including all home wall chargers and most commercial/ public charging stations. There is an increase in both the volts and amps (power) that this solution can access relative to the level 1 solution above.
Will reduce charging time to 3 - 8 hours depending on the amount of power available and factors specific to the vehicle. Most charging of hybrid and electric vehicles is done at level 2 with batteries specifically designed to repeatedly handle the recharge rate.
The increase in power requires a more significant and professional installation process. This work should be done by a certified electrician that is experienced with charging technology, to ensure both safe operation and effective charging of the vehicle.
The highest level of charging power is at level 3 and is often referred to as “rapid charging”. Where both the level 1 and 2 solutions rely on AC power (alternating current), these stations provide a charge on DC (direct current). This will bypass an electric vehicle’s internal inverter (that changes power from AC to DC) and feeds the charge directly into the batteries.
This process allows for great increases in the power delivered to the batteries when compared to level 1 and 2 chargers. An example of a level 3 charger are Tesla’s Superchargers that can provide an 80% charge in approximately 20 minutes. The limits of this technology are primarily on the amount of electricity available and design constraints on the vehicles themselves.
Repeated use of this method can shorten the lifespan of batteries, highlighted by clear warnings from vehicle manufactures. The electricity requirements of the technology are massive and installation costs are also extremely high compared to a level 2 alternative. Not all electric vehicles and very few hybrids can access the rapid charge of level 3 stations.
In conclusion, all levels of charging will be needed in a system that supports electric vehicle transportation. Level 1 for the irregular journeys, level 2 for home and work charging, and level 3 for the quick charges on a road trip. EV charging is adapted to real life situations and provides a basis for a transition to a low carbon transportation network and economy.
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