What’s the Difference Between EV Charging Levels?

Nov 30, '21
What’s the Difference Between EV Charging Levels?

How do I determine the type of outlet and the charging method suitable for my electric car at home or on public charging stations? Despite the technical terms specific to electric mobility, things are actually very simple. Let’s follow this guide!

Driving an electric car means choosing simplicity and fluidity. This is when it needs to be recharged that it can seem complicated. However, despite the diversity of terms and sockets, charging is further proof of the simplicity of electric vehicles!

On the technical side, to choose a charging station suitable for your electric vehicle, it is necessary to consider two things. First, you have to make sure that the electric terminal and the vehicle are able to speak the same language, that is to say to exchange energy on a technical level: this is what the this is called the “charging mode”. It is then necessary to check that it is indeed possible to establish a physical link between the car and the terminal: the compatibility is more obvious and visible, because it depends here on the type of plug. And since the world of the electric automobile is accommodating, there are adapters that can make this little world compatible.

Beyond these technical aspects, we must also take into account the use that we have of our electric car. Knowing that 80% of "electric car owners" charge their vehicles at home, this means that certain charging and outlet methods can be found at home.

But it is also the use that one can have of his electric vehicle that will condition the use of this or that device.

For example, if the driver has a charging point at work, a standard home outlet, with its slow charging mode, may be sufficient. It will then be used as a backup, even if it is necessary to avoid carrying out long recharges to avoid the risk of overheating, or else install a reinforced socket equipped with a differential circuit breaker.

For recharging at home, regardless of the recharging method chosen, care should also be taken with the electrical installation. If it encounters problems and in particular surges, many models of electric vehicles will simply refuse the attempt to recharge. It is for this reason that it is strongly recommended to have the installation checked by a professional.

The faster the recharge, the more the electrical circuits require advanced control devices, dedicated to monitoring and regulating the intensity of the current.

Different Charging Modes

Regardless of the type of plug offered at the terminal, the charging speed and compatibility with the different modes are conditioned by the maximum power that the electronics integrated in the car are capable of absorbing.

Mode 1: for an extra charge

In this basic mode, you plug the vehicle into any outlet with a grounding connection. All electric cars allow you to plug into a household outlet, but the lack of a dedicated circuit limits the power delivered. Charging is therefore very slow, because the power delivered will peak at 2.3 kW. Depending on the capacity of the vehicle's battery, it will likely take between 10 and 30 hours to complete a full recharge. Be careful with this charging method. It is better to limit the charge to extra use since the risk of overheating is great. Likewise, it's best to charge at night, when most electrical devices are turned off, to get all the power you need.

Mode 2: for slow charging at home

As with mode 1, charging is done directly from a household electrical outlet. Mode 2 provides for the use of a reinforced outlet, equipped with a differential to avoid sudden power cuts. This type of plug generally resembles those used for outdoor use. For long-term recharges, the risk of overheating remains possible. This is why, with this mode 2, to increase the intensity of the current (and therefore the power delivered), you need an electronic box responsible for regulating the load. In general, this box that will take care of controlling the load. It monitors the parameters and interrupts the transfer as soon as an abnormal phenomenon is detected. Mode 2 is systematically integrated into the charging cable.

Mode 3: ideal at home

For more advanced home use, "mode 3" presents the ideal and secure solution. This mode indicates that a control device is integrated directly into the electrical terminal.

Mode 4: for fast charging

"Mode 4" covers the fast charging infrastructure found in certain public places, car parks or motorway areas. They generally deliver a direct current at very high intensity, which makes it possible to regain the equivalent of 80% of autonomy on the EV charger in just 1 hour. Among the various charging stations in public access, there are equipment in "mode 3" (normal charging) and others in "mode 4" (fast charging). As the cost of these fast charging stations is relatively high, the price of charging tends to take off.

how to select ev charger

Types of Electric Vehicle Plugs

In addition to the different modes, related to power and control of the electrical network, all electric cars have a socket installed in the body. Depending on the brand, there are several models of plugs. To avoid getting stuck in front of a terminal with an incompatible plug, they are often delivered with cables or adapters that make it possible to bridge the gap with the most common charging methods.

Type 1: the most common in the world, but not in Europe

The type 1 plug is the "SAE J1772" or "Yazaki" plug (named after the Japanese equipment manufacturer that supplies it). Widely used in Asia, it is the most common outlet on the planet due to its use in many countries with a 110-volt power grid. As this type of socket is not available in all geographic areas, it will therefore be necessary to be equipped with a Type 2 or Type 3 adapter. With Type 1 sockets, the load is necessarily limited to 7.4 kW, which banned rapid recharging uses and led to the advent of more versatile sockets. Recharging is therefore slow or accelerated and in single-phase alternating current (32 Amps for 230 Volts). Finally, the plug does not have a sufficiently powerful locking system to prevent an ill-intentioned person from unplugging it.

Type 2: the standardized European electrical socket

Much more frequent and faster, the "type 2" plug, otherwise known as "Mennekes", has become the standard decided at European Union level. It delivers a power ranging from 3 to 43 kW. Versatile, it generally responds to all common charging scenarios, in particular with an EV charger at home and on public fast charging stations. This European electrical outlet has become the Swiss army knife of the modern electric car. It can be found on practically all charging stations where it has replaced the Type 3 socket since January 2016.

Type 3: endangered

Developed in Europe, the “Type 3” socket is now a vestige which still equips certain charging stations installed on public roads. Since January 2016, it is no longer installed on the terminals and it is now replaced by the "Type 2" socket. If necessary, there are adapters for connecting a car equipped with a "type 2" plug to a terminal equipped with a "type 3".

Type 4: CHadeMO connector

The "type 4" socket, or CHAdeMO socket, is used for fast charging in "mode 4". It allows a high intensity direct current, but does not allow recharging on a terminal delivering alternating current (AC), that is to say that produced directly by the sector.

What is the standard charger level?

There are three levels of charger, each associated with a different voltage. In principle, the higher the voltage, the faster the vehicle recharges.

Level 1: Electric vehicles are sold with a level 1 portable charger, plugged into a standard 120V outlet, just as you would with any other plug-in device.

Level 2: Many owners of electric vehicles decide to equip themselves with a 240 V terminal to recharge their car more quickly. These terminals use a circuit similar to that of your stove. There are also 240V public charging stations that you can use while traveling. Check more about BougeRV Level 2 EV Charger.

Level 3: Often called “fast charging stations” or “DCFC”, level 3 stations operate with 400 V. These stations are not designed to be used at home: rather they are made available to owners of electric vehicles through various public networks.

Information of charging speed

Amperage (Amps [A]) and Voltage (Volts [V]) affect recharge time, as explained above. In fact, several factors come into play:

  1. Battery capacity, which is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), is the energy that a battery can hold. It is compared to the size of a gas tank: the larger it is, the greater the range will be, but the longer it will take to charge. Thus, the Chevrolet Bolt EV (60 kWh) has a greater capacity than that of the Nissan Leaf (40 kWh). The Bolt will therefore take a little longer to recharge than the Leaf on a 240 V and 30 A terminal.
  2. The power of the charging station is measured in kilowatts (kW). Connected to 240V, the 30A models have a power of 7.2 kW, while the 15 A terminals have a 3.6 kW and the 40A terminals have 9.6 kW. The higher this measurement, the faster the recharge should go.
  3. The maximum power accepted by your vehicle is also measured in kW. It is listed in the owner's manual. And it is this which explains the difference between the charging speed of two cars connected in turn to the same terminal. Note that connecting your vehicle to more power is not risky; the vehicle will simply limit what is sent to it.

Most Rechar geable-hybrid accept a maximum power 3.3 to 3.6 kW. They will charge at the same speed, regardless of whether the terminal used has 15 A, 30 A or 40 A. Only certain models, like the Chevrolet Volt Premier (which goes up to 7.2 kW), will charge faster on a 30 A terminal than a 15 A terminal.

All- electric vehicles accept power ranging from 3.3 kW to almost 20 kW on certain luxury models. This data changes from one model to another, and sometimes also from one model year to another.

Two examples:

  • The 100% electric Nissan Leaf, which has a good battery capacity (40 kWh) and allows a power of 6.6 kW, will be fully recharged in 33 hours on a standard 120 V outlet, but with a 240 V terminal. and 15 A, recharging will take 11 hours, and with a 240 V and 30 A terminal, it will take 6 hours.
  • The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, which has a smaller battery (8.8 kWh), will recharge in less time, even if it only accepts 3.3 kW of power. It will take 5 hours 30 minutes to recharge if plugged into a 120 V outlet, or 2 hours 40 minutes with a 240 V terminal, regardless of the number of amps.

These times are of course theoretical. In practice, car manufacturers design their batteries in such a way that they will never fully discharge or fully charge. Some manufacturers even restrict the charging and discharging of the battery more than others, especially in the hope of extending its lifespan.