Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly changing in terms of style, comfortability, and their use. Compared to a couple of years ago, today there are more charging stations to meet the increasing demand for EVs. But, does that mean all-electric cars use similar “universal” plugs or charges? The answer is no. Different EV brands use different standards for charging. For example, Tesla has its proprietary charging system and a network of Tesla Superchargers.
The Different Plugs and Chargers Available
There are different electric vehicle charging standards for all levels of charging. EV charging systems have three different levels. These levels represent the power outputs, charging speed, and accessibility to charging an EV. Each level gets assigned connector types meant for either low or high-power use, including managing AC or DC charging. Let’s take a look at the different charging levels that reflect the speed and voltage at which you can charge your vehicle.
Level 1 Charging Stations (120-volt AC)
All EVs are built with a charging cord that can plug into a standard electrical outlet. Level 1 chargers use 120-volt AC, similar to the ones found inside your home. Additionally, it can be done with a Level 1 EVSE cable with a standard three-prong household plug, one end being for the outlet and a standard J1722 connector for your EV. This is the slowest type of charging system and is usually for home use only. The charging rates cover between 1.4kW to 3kW and can take between 8 to 12 hours to fully charge the car, depending on its battery capacity.
Level 2 Charging Stations (240-volt AC)
Level 2 charging stations are found in residential areas, public parking lots, workplaces, or commercial settings. Note that most EVs sold in North America use the same level 2 charging plug, meaning you can charge your EV at any standard level 2 charging station.
Level 2 stations offer 240V AC plugs. It may take approximately 1 to 11 hours to fully charge your car, depending on its battery capacity. These stations have a charging rate of 7kW to 22kW with a type 2 connector. For instance, the KIA e-Niro, containing a 64kW battery, takes up to 9 hours to be fully charged at a level 2 charging station. If you want to install this charging station at home, it will require professional wiring and installation.
Level 3 Charting Stations (DC Fast Charging)
Level 3 charging is the fastest way to charge an EV since it uses direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC). Level 3 offers a quicker and high-powered charging experience. However, level 3 chargers are not as common as level 2 chargers. Level 3 chargers have 480V DC plugs, and the charging time can take up from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Unlike Level 2 charging, some EVs may not be compatible with Level 3 charging.
Different types of DC fast-charging stations:
- Tesla Supercharger: Tesla has come up with its network of fast-charging stations that are only accessible to Tesla owners.
- CHAdeMO: This is the most common type of fast charging station used by Nissan Leaf, Citroen C-Zero, Honda Fit, Kia Soul, and many more.
- Combined Charging System (CCS): Most EV automakers use this charging, including Volkswagen, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercedes, and Volvo. Note that even Tesla owners can buy an adapter that can be used to charge at CHAdeMo or CCS stations.
Cable Types of Charging EVs
- Mode 2 charging cable: If you plan on charging your electric car at home, you need this cable type since it’s compatible with domestic sockets. You can usually get one from your car manufacturer, depending on your region.
- Mode 3 charging cable: This charging cable also varies with region, but it’s compatible if you want to connect your car to a charging station. You will find that most charging stations have installed type 2 sockets to allow both type 1 and type 2 plugs.
EVs Charging Stations in The Future
The electric vehicle revolution continues every day, and the technology related to charging these vehicles is always changing. Who knows, there might be universal charging stations in the future for all types of EVs. All the struggles experienced by EV owners are likely to be addressed as the demand for EVs increases – from the lack of a standardized charging mechanism to the time it takes to charge an EV battery fully.
As with every device that needs charging, your car batteries will likely decrease the efficiency with every charge. To avoid such a scenario, you must not overcharge your car. Remember when EVs were first introduced, there was a misconception that they can be overcharged, which led to a rapid depletion of the batteries and even fire hazards. Luckily, EV manufacturers have installed appropriate technology that prevents the overcharging of batteries.
With proper care, your car battery can last for more than five years. But for daily car users, you must replace the battery after three years; otherwise, the battery won’t be reliable. Most importantly, you need to understand the charging port your EV requires and the charging stations that will work best for you.