03/17/2022

What is a level 3 electric vehicle charger?

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4 Min. Read

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular in the mainstream car market and are starting to flood American roadways. Demand is high, and expectations are higher. Charging speed and convenience are hot topics. Consumers need assurance that they can take charge in the wild when taking a trip with little or no “range anxiety.” Easy access to Level 3 EV charging would  help alleviate with this concern.

When stopping for gas meant choosing between regular, medium or premium grades, the choice was based on the type of car and price. Refueling took the same amount of time, regardless of your choice. However, charging an EV is different. Each charger level works at a different speed (based on the power delivered). Level 3 (DC Fast Charging or Tesla Supercharging) is the premium grade – the fastest and most expensive, but maybe not actually what your car or situation needs.

EV charger levels

What are the differences among EV chargers?

Level 1 Chargers

  • Volts: 120 volts, the amount used in standard household outlets.
  • Connection: Uses J1772 or Tesla connectors.
  • Charging Speed: Three to five miles of battery range per hour.
  • Wiring: Does not require any special wiring, uses alternating current (AC) and comes with all EVs.
  • Summary: Level 1 charging overnight or at work is adequate for short commutes but is too slow for traveling across town or more.

Level 2 Chargers

  • Volts: 208-240 volts on a 32-48 amp charger. New chargers are coming out at 64 & 80 amps.
  • Connection: Uses J1772 or Tesla connectors.
  • Charging Speed: 12 to 80 miles of battery range per hour.
  • Wiring: Uses AC, but requires a dedicated circuit and a supply line from the breaker box, much like air conditioners and clothes dryers. Homes may require electrical circuit box upgrades.
  • Summary: Most EV drivers use Level 2 charging for daily or overnight charging. Home installation of the necessary equipment is relatively inexpensive. Many public places, like shopping centers, also host Level 2 chargers.

Level 3 Chargers

  • Volts: 400-900 volts (DC Fast Chargers and Tesla Superchargers) with a 100 to 400 amp current.
  • Connection: Connectors vary (Combo, CHAdeMO or Tesla).
  • Charging Speed: 3 to 20 miles of battery range per minute.
  • Wiring: Designed for commercial use, these chargers require a much higher voltage than is normaly available in a residential area. Even if your area allows the voltage, a Level 3 charger can cost as much as or more than an EV.
  • Summary: Level 3 EV chargers are remarkably fast, completely charging a car in less than an hour. Level 3 public chargers cost more to use, but they enable travelers to make quick stops to recharge. However, these chargers are not recommended for daily use.

Level 3 EV charger concerns

Of course most EV drivers want to find a Level 3 charger when they are on a trip with limited time. However, not all electric vehicles can use one and no EV should overuse them. Battery power levels vary among EVs. The cars are designed to prevent any charger from delivering too much power, but some EVs have batteries too small to accommodate fast chargers. In that case, paying to use a fast charger is pointless.

Additionally, frequent supercharging can degrade batteries over time. Taking advantage of a fast charge on the road is great, but day-to-day use of a Level 3 EV charger will negatively affect the vehicle’s health. In fact, Tesla programmed their cars to limit the charging speeds if they are supercharged too often.

The U.S. is adding Level 3 EV chargers throughout the country. Most of these are operated by private charging networks. These networks typically have mobile apps to help EV drivers locate chargers and even check availability. In addition, some automakers offer free or discounted charging on specific networks for a period as part of purchase agreements.

Be aware that charging on a level 3 charger can cost two to three times the price of charging at home on a Level 2 device (but still far less than gasoline today). Remember, more and more locations now offer pay-for-use and even free Level 2 chargers so you can add more charge while eating, shopping, sightseeing or on other stops.

Bringing it all home

It is essential to know about the types of chargers available on a road trip. Realistically, however, EV owners do most of their charging at home or work. Charger installation, beyond a Level 1, can be complicated. You need expertise to evaluate the electrical set-up, determine whether panel upgrades are needed, and ensure the charger set-up really meets your needs. You don’t want to trust someone with little EV experience; you want a respected industry leader recommended by many automakers — Qmerit.

For homeowners and businesses, Qmerit offers white-glove EV charging installation services. Qmerit connects stakeholders across the electrification movement around exceptional installation and integration experiences. Their network of certified installers can help you make the necessary upgrades and find the best solution for your EV charging. Qmerit has provided competitively priced, high quality and safe installations for countless EV drivers.

Find out how Qmerit can help you take advantage of the EV revolution and install the s charger for you. Contact Qmerit today.

Author: Lowry Stoops Lowry Stoops President, Qmerit Network