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Level 1 vs. Level 2 Charging: Is a Level 2 Charger Worth It?

by Nick Versaw Updated March 23rd, 2022

Level 1 vs level 2 charging: woman holding an EV charger

Buying a new or pre-owned electric vehicle doesn’t just mean learning an entirely new way to fuel your car, but getting familiar with the equipment you need to charge it as well. The term electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) refers to all of the products you’ll need to keep your EV charged up and ready to go.

Whether you’re charging up at your home charging station, using a public charging station, or heading to a private charging network, you have a variety of charging options when it comes to getting your EV back to full charge. This article will explore the two most common types of EVSE used for EV charging and outline the differences between Level 1 vs. Level 2 charging.

Level 1 EV Chargers

Level 1 EV chargers are the slowest but most affordable EV chargers available on the market as of March 2022. Level 1 EVSE can plug into any standard wall outlet, making it one of the easiest and most versatile types of chargers to use. However, their low power output and long charging times are a drawback.

Power Output

Level 1 EV chargers are most commonly cords that plug directly into a standard 120-volt power outlet such as those found in most homes. They offer a power output between 8 and 20 amps. Eight amps is a similar power output as a power tool such as a circular saw or table saw.

EV Charging Time

It takes around 17-25 hours to fully charge an EV battery with Level 1 charging. While that slow pace is alright for commuters who are comfortable with charging their EV battery overnight, it may not be a fast enough charge for those who drive more often.

Cost and Installation

All EVs come with a Level 1 EV charging cord for use in household outlets. If you purchase a pre-owned EV that doesn’t have its original charger or need to buy a replacement, the cost is around $379-$495.

Level 1 chargers are included standard with the purchase of an EV and/or included in your EV’s purchase price. They do not require installation as they utilize pre-existing outlets.

Level 2 EV Chargers

Level 1 vs level 2 charging: man using his phone while waiting for his EV to finish charging

If you’re looking for a quicker charge for your EV, a Level 2 EV charger is the way to go. Level 2 chargers are the most commonly used residential chargers. While they require a professional electrician for installation and are more expensive than standard Level 1 charging cables, they are regarded as the standard home charger for EV drivers. 

Power Output

Level 2 chargers have a power output of 12-80 amps. Level 2 chargers have about the same amount of voltage as an appliance like an oven or clothes dryer — around 240 volts. They operate on AC power (alternating current) like most residential power grids.

EV Charging Time

A Level 2 charging station can charge a standard EV battery in approximately four or five hours. They’re best suited to drivers who drive long distances each day and are looking for faster electric vehicle charging than that provided by standard Level 1 chargers.

Cost and Installation

Standard wall-mounted Level 2 chargers are commonly installed in garages or places where you park your vehicle. The average price of a Level 2 charger is around $500, not including the cost to install it. While you can get even faster charging with a Level 3 station, they are too powerful for residential installation and use.

Alternatives to Level 1 and Level 2 Charging

Man charging his car while using his phone

If you’re away from home, or simply dissatisfied with the slower rates of Level 1 and Level 2 charging, you have one remaining alternative. Direct current (DC) fast charging is the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid as of March 2022.

Because of their very high cost — around $15,000 to $50,000 per charger — they are almost exclusively part of municipal or private charging networks. Level 3 charging stations utilize between 20 and 50 kW of power and can fully charge an EV battery in under an hour.

ChargePoint

ChargePoint is a privately owned DC fast charging network that allows EV drivers to recharge their car’s battery at over 30,000 charging locations worldwide. 

Unlike some global charging networks like Tesla’s Supercharger network that offer only Level 3 fast charging, Chargepoint charging stations run the entire gamut. From Level 1 charging stations to Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast chargers, each station affiliated with Chargepoint offers something different. 

Members pay for charges by adding funds to their account in the company’s app via credit card, which also offers a live map of charging locations and wait times worldwide.

Tesla Supercharger Network

Tesla’s Supercharger Network is exclusively made up of DC fast chargers, meaning you’ll always get a quick charge when you use one. The catch is, as of this writing, only Tesla EV drivers can use them, and the charging equipment EV drivers need to use is exclusive to Tesla vehicles.

Drivers pay for use of Tesla’s charging system through the automaker’s app, and the location of nearby Superchargers can always be found in each Tesla’s onboard center touchscreen. The Supercharger app also informs drivers of charging speed, remaining time before full charge, and total hours of charging. 

Depending on their specific battery size, most Tesla vehicles can be fully “fueled up” with less than an hour of charging with one of the brand’s DC fast chargers.

Level 1 vs. Level 2 Charging: Is a Level 2 Charger Worth it?

If you plan to use an electric vehicle for all your driving needs, investment in a Level 2 charger is definitely worth it. While the Level 1 charging cables that come with EVs upon purchase are useful in a pinch, it’s not practical to rely on their slow charge times to power up your EV on a daily basis.

If you have daily access to Level 3 DC fast charging, say, at a nearby public charging station or at your office, relying solely on a Level 1 charger for home use may be a possibility. However, the vast majority of EV drivers enjoy the peace of mind and convenience of knowing that their EV can charge fully, in a reasonable time frame, when they use the Level 2 charger they have installed at home. 

Power Up Your EV Knowledge

Whether you use a Level 1 or 2 charger, every EV charges differently. If you have an all-electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid, you’ll get to know the routine of your battery use the more you drive it.

Looking to explore EVs near you now that you know a little more about Level 1 vs. Level 2 charging? Use our tool below to find used electric vehicles for sale in your area.


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