Difference Between Level 2 vs Level 3 Charging

Difference between level 2 vs level 3 charging

Today, the whole world is welcoming a greener world. The introduction of EV chargers is no longer unconventional but a reality. EVs are known for their eco-friendly, top-grade technology, and they are redefining the idea of transportation.

As society adopts greener business models, EV experts prepare to deploy reliable and competitive EV charging networks. With the growing demand for EVs, it's essential to understand the charging patterns of these vehicles.

American society depends on vehicles for various activities, from work and school commutes to running errands and embarking on road trips. Over the past decade, the electric vehicle (EV) industry has experienced substantial growth. This growth reflects the increasing consumer need for affordable, convenient, and environmentally conscious EV options.

The US climate regulations aim to make half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. produce zero emissions by 2030. As more Americans transition to electric vehicles, the demand for EVs has surged.

In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between the two most popular types of EV charging: Level 2 and Level 3 Charging. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the different charging levels and analyze the pros and cons of each.

Why Are There Different Levels Of EV Charging Stations?

Different levels of EV charging are important for owners, as they enable them to plan and optimize their charging strategies. Knowing the capabilities and availability of EV charger types offers a seamless charging experience and maximizes battery usage efficiency.

Having different EV charging stations comes with varied benefits-

Firstly, drivers can quickly charge their vehicles with the required charger. A large charging network prevents the hassle of running out of energy while going on longer trips.

Secondly, the increased number of EV charging stations helps to reduce emissions, leading to cleaner air. Electric vehicles don't produce any toxic gases, making them an ideal solution for the environment compared to cars running on diesel or gasoline. This helps to encourage people to start considering this as an ideal environmentally friendly option.

Lastly, with more EV charging stations, you can enjoy economic advantages like creating more jobs in the industry. The new stations need technicians and engineers to install and maintain them. This increases the potential for businesses to benefit from installing these units at their premises and attract customers.

With all these benefits in place, it is clear why the states are expanding their EV charger network nationwide.

What Are Level 2 EV Chargers?

Level 2 chargers use a high-powered AC charging station with a 240-volt power source. They are most commonly found in public charging stations, workplaces, or home charging solutions. Drivers often prefer them due to their convenience and charging speed.

Using an integrated J plug, an EV driver connects the car to a Level 2 charger with the attached nozzle cord. This plug is generally built into most EV vehicles. Equipped with smart software, it allows you to charge EVs while adjusting power levels. It is ideal for residential apartments, retail stores, employers, university campuses, and more.

It needs professional installation and a customized circuit to convert AC power to DC. It provides higher output, within the range of 3.3 to 19.2 kilowatts. With increased charging speeds, this charger offers about 10-30 miles of coverage per hour.

If you are looking for charging solutions for regular long commutes or want to charge your car frequently, this is your one-stop solution.

Advantages of Using a Level 2 Charger

Understanding the concept of a Level 2 charger, let's explore its benefits and encourage EV owners to adopt it.

  • Speed

One of the major benefits of a Level 2 charger is its capability to charge the EV quicker than a Level 1 charger. It is considered to be a 'sliding door' for EV owners. Those who have a tough schedule or drive a long distance can enjoy the utility of this charger. Level 2 EV charging can conveniently charge your vehicle according to your needs.

  • Increased Convenience

These chargers are installed at home, transforming your garage or driveway into a charging station for your car. As a result, you don't have to depend on public charging stations anymore. This is beneficial for people who use their vehicles for daily transportation.

  • Home Value

Installing a Level 2 EV charging station increases the value of your property. With the increasing number of EVs, buyers understand the benefit of having charger infrastructure in the area.

It reduces the hassle of looking for a charging station while traveling to a set destination. Installing this charging station is a potential investment that attracts buyers and enhances the value of your home.

  • Environmental Impact

EV cars are environmentally friendly, but they become more eco-friendly when using Level 2 chargers instead of conventional ones. Fast charging even helps reduce electricity usage, mainly during high demand at peak hours.

In addition, if you have access to renewable energy sources, you can combine them with a Level 2 charger. It helps to reduce the carbon footprint on a long-term and sustainable basis, making the EV charging process more sustainable.

Limitations of Level 2 Charger

There are a few drawbacks to installing a Level 2 EV charging station on your property. The main disadvantages are as follows –

  • Installation requirements:  

Installing a Level 2 charging station requires professional electrical work, including setting up dedicated circuits. Upgrading your electrical panel to accommodate the charging station will be a problem. It is applicable, especially if you want to run other electrical appliances simultaneously.

  • Cost: 

Level 2 EV charging stations involve early investment for the purchase and installation of the equipment. With this charging station, maintenance costs are comparatively higher than Level 1 chargers. The cost depends on three main aspects – size, location, and complexity.  Other than these factors, weather conditions and high frequency are some of the elements that cause increased maintenance costs. As discussed earlier, installation of this charger requires a 240V circuit, which is quite an expensive factor to consider. This charging station needs an electrical grid update to produce more power suitable for larger equipment. Level 2 charging stations also have more moving parts that expand their complexity, therefore making it a costly solution. Along with it, the cost of the charger can even range from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. For some EV owners, investment in Level 2 chargers may not be reasonable based on their charging requirements.

  • Availability: 

Even though Level 2 charging stations are becoming prevalent, their accessibility varies depending on the location.

What Are Level 3 EV Chargers?

Level 3 EV chargers are commonly known as DC fast chargers, representing the peak of quick charging technology. DC fast charging stations function at higher power levels ranging from 50 to 350 kW. Rapid DC chargers deliver DC to the EV charger and battery, resulting in faster charging times.  This feature makes the DC chargers suitable for long-distance travel and reduces charging road trips.

Level 3 chargers can completely charge the EV within an hour, which is much faster than level 1 and level 2 chargers. These chargers are found alongside highways, where most passenger EV cars use them. They are mainly designed for commercial and heavy-duty EVs.

Benefits of Level 3 Chargers

With the introduction of fast-charging Level 3 chargers, let's discover the perks of installing them.

  • Rapid Charging Speeds:  

The main advantage of Level 3 charging is its potential to deliver exceedingly fast charging times. These charging stations provide an 80% charge within 15-30 minutes, depending upon the vehicle and charging station specifications.

  • Extended Range:

Using Level 3 chargers, EV owners can instantly recharge their car batteries and travel longer distances without extended charging stops. Using your EVs for long-distance traveling or commuting for ridesharing services is beneficial.

  • Convenience:  

Level 3 EV charging stations are located along major highways, shopping centers, and high-traffic areas. They allow EV owners to quickly recharge their vehicles while they are on the go.

  • Reduced Downtime:

When it comes to commercial or business fleets with EVs, Level 3 charging is considered to be the ideal solution. It minimizes downtime and increases operational efficiency by reducing the vehicle charging time.

Limitations of Level 3 Chargers

Being the fastest DC charging solution, Level 3 chargers have some limitations for EV owners. The limitations are -

  • Impact on the Battery Life of Electric Vehicles

Are you worried about any potential risks that Level 3 chargers can pose? There are specific safety concerns and issues involved with Level 3 charging. 

One of the most significant is battery degradation and reduced battery life due to overcharging. This kind of charging requires high power output, increasing the risk of electric shock and fire. All these hazards can arise due to faulty wiring and other safety issues.

  • High Installation and Maintenance Costs

An average Level 3 DC fast charger costs up to $80,000 and can go up with additional installation costs. There is a huge difference in cost between Level 2 and Level 3 charging.

Level 3 chargers come with a high installation cost. They work with heavy-powered electrical systems, including hardwiring into the building.

Along with it comes the necessity of utilizing specialized equipment and expertise to install and maintain the system. It ends up becoming more expensive than other charging systems. This high cost obstructs individuals or businesses that lack the resources to invest such an amount. Thus, it becomes difficult for them to access the utility of Level 3 charging.

  • Excessive Power Consumption and Infrastructure Demands

This charger requires a particular parking space, thus reducing the availability and accessibility of the charging station. It also reduces the scope of providing space for all EV owners to charge their vehicles at the same time.

Difference between Level 2 and Level 3 EV Chargers

The demand for different EV charger levels arises from the varying requirements of EV drivers. Every user has separate charging needs, depending upon factors like charging speed, convenience, and cost. With multiple charging needs, the industry caters to a broad range of users and creates a versatile and accessible EV charging network.

Besides the charging speeds, Level 2 and Level 3 chargers differ in various factors. These factors impact the charging experience of EV owners and extend beyond the technical specifications, as they include factors like physical design, installation considerations, and cost-effectiveness.

Power Requirements

The most vital difference between Level 2 and Level 3 chargers is their power requirements. Level 2 chargers operate on alternating current, with power outputs ranging between 3.3 and 19.2 kilowatts, making them suitable for daily charging requirements. 

However, DC fast chargers provide way higher power outputs, ranging from 50 to 350 kilowatts. It enables rapid charging and is ideal for long-distance travel.

Physical Specifications

Level 2 chargers are compact and simpler than DC chargers. On the other hand, level 3 chargers have a complex and robust design, which helps them handle high power levels and fast charging capabilities.

The Level 2 chargers use a different charging connector than the Level 3 chargers. The J1772 EV plug is used for AC charging, whereas the Combined Charging System (CCS) plug is used for DC charging.

Installation Cost

Installing Level 2 chargers is considered to be more cost-effective than installing Level 3 EV chargers. These chargers come in modular and hardwired versions. It can be directly plugged into a NEMA 14-50 outlet, and the hardwired version requires direct wiring into the home's electrical panel.

DC chargers, on the other hand, need additional infrastructure to function, such as high-capacity power lines and specialized equipment, leading to higher installation costs. These chargers are unsuitable for residential use and are mostly installed on existing infrastructure or commercial areas.

Charging Time

Charging time is one of the most crucial factors for electric vehicle owners to consider. Level 2 chargers offer charging speeds that can recharge an EV battery overnight or throughout the day. Generally, they can charge battery electric vehicles (BHEVs) from zero to 80% within 4-10 hours. In the case of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), it takes about 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, Level 3 chargers considerably reduce charging time and can recharge an EV car from zero to 80% within 20 minutes.

Level 2 vs Level 3 Charger - Which Charger Should You Choose?

The most suitable charger depends on your individual needs and driving habits. For property owners, the best choice will be to install a Level 2 charger. This charger works fast enough to power your EV for the next destination. It would be more cost-effective to add other necessary things to your place of work than installing a Level 3 station.

When choosing the proper charger, you must consider certain factors like - your driving habits, the distance you cover regularly, and your budget.

  • Daily Commuting and Regular Use: Level 2 chargers are ideal for regular transportation for EV owners. They maintain a balance between the charging speed and installation cost, making them appropriate for residential and workplace charging.
  • Long-Distance Travel: If you are an EV owner going on long-distance trips or running an interstate business, Level 3 chargers are perfect. Also, if you already have 400-900 volt DC infrastructure, you can opt for Level 3 stations. Their fast charging speed enables owners to charge within a short span.
  • Budget Constraints: If you have a restricted budget, Level 2 chargers are more affordable for installation and electricity costs. On the other hand, installing DC fast charging is costly.

Can EV Chargers Be Interchanged?

It's important to note that EV chargers are not always interchangeable. While a Level 1 charger setup in a garage may work well for a passenger EV, accessing a Level 2 charger at the mall can be convenient for running errands.

However, passenger EV drivers should exercise caution when considering Level 2 vs. Level 3 EV chargers. Not all EVs are compatible with Level 3 chargers, and vehicles with smaller batteries should not use DC fast chargers.

For example, plug-in hybrids or compact models like the Fiat 500e should avoid fast charging. The high current of 350kW can overwhelm a small battery.

Choosing between Level 2 and Level 3 charging comes down to balancing speed, compatibility, and specific requirements. Level 3 is not compatible with all vehicles, whereas Level 2 is a go-to option for most EV drivers and is considered to be widely compatible with EV cars.

U.S Supercharge EV Charging Solutions - Steering Towards Sustainability Journey

The world of EV charging is constantly evolving, with the emergence of new technologies and faster charging options. Understanding the importance of Level 2 vs Level 3 charging empowers you to make proper and informed decisions.

We at U.S. Supercharge help you choose the charging solution that best suits your driving lifestyle. Charge your EV car confidently and enjoy the clean and exciting world of electric vehicles.

With our EV charging technology, we aim to create a sustainable solution. Our charging stations offer an exclusive charging experience with safe and quick energy transfer.

Contact our experts if you want to learn more about EV charging and how these stations work. Your journey towards clean energy starts with us!