Electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles are a relatively new option for car buyers. The fact that they use electricity to power them instead of gasoline means that there must also be new infrastructure put in place to make this switch to electric possible.
If you own an electric vehicle, there are quite a few charging options available to you. EV charging can vary by location, charging power and connector plugs used. Here is a breakdown of the different types of electric vehicle charging solutions.
The most common location for charging electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is at home. As a matter of fact, home charging accounts for about 80% of all EV charging. There are two levels of charging available for home use: level 1 and level 2.
This type of charging involves use of the connector that comes with the vehicle. The connector can be plugged into any standard 120V outlet with the other end plugged directly into the car. A level 1 charger is the slowest option, charging the electric vehicle at only six miles per hour.
Level 2 home chargers are sold separately from the car, though they can almost always be purchased at the same time. These chargers are a bit more complicated to set up and require an electrician to install. They are designed to be plugged into a 240V outlet which charges your electric vehicle three to seven times faster depending on the car and charger. All level 2 chargers use a SAE J1772 connector which can be purchased online in both the US and Canada.
Public charging options allow electric vehicle drivers to charge their car when they are traveling distances beyond the vehicle’s limit. Public chargers can typically be found near shopping centers, restaurants and public parking spots. As public chargers are not as widely available as gas stations, it is recommended to use a digital map to help locate public charging stations. These are offered through various apps and websites. In addition to locating any charging station in North America, they can also show you charger statuses in real time.
There are three different levels of public charging and varying connectors and networks to choose from.
Just like the level 1 home charger, this is the slowest option that uses the standard 120-volt wall outlet. It requires several hours to fully charge.
Power (kW): 1
Approximate Charging Time (Empty Battery): 200 km (124 miles): +/- 20 hours
As this is the most popular level of charging found in homes of EV owners, it is also the most common public charging station available. RV plugs are also considered level 2 chargers.
Power (kW): 3-20 (Typically 6)
Approximate Charging Time (Empty Battery): 200 km (124 miles): +/- 5 hours
Level 3 chargers also known as DCFC or DC Fast Chargers are the highest level of EV charging. Level 3 charging stations offer EV owners with the quickest possible option for charging their car. It is important to note that not all electric vehicles can be charged at level 3 stations.
Power (kW): Typically 50, occasionally 20
Approximate Charging Time (Empty Battery): 80% of 200 km (124 miles): +/- 30 min
Level 1 and 2 Connectors
The most commonly used connector for level 1 and level 2 charging is the SAE J1772 EV plug. All electric cars in the U.S. and Canada can use this connector, including Tesla, with an adapter. The SAE J1772 connector can only be used for levels 1 and 2.
Level 3 Connectors
There are two main connectors used for level 3 charging. Those are either the CHAdeMO or the SAE Combo (also called CCS for “Combo Charging System”). If your car has level 3 charging capabilities, it is important to know which port you have. The two connectors are not interchangeable so you will want to make sure your port is compatible with the connector at your charging station.
Another level 3 connector option is the Tesla supercharger. It is only available for levels 2 and 3 at Tesla charging stations and are only compatible with Tesla cars.
You will need to learn which charging networks are available in your area to use the stations properly. There are several operators of public charging stations and while most of them are specific to certain areas, there may be many station operators in one area.
There are two categories of public charging operators: networked and independent.
Networked Smart Charging Stations
In order to use a networked charger, also known as a smart station or connected station, you must subscribe to a specific network. Subscriptions to the networks are usually free with fees only when you use a charger. However, there may be exceptions as some networks do charge a subscription fee and allow unlimited charger usage at no additional cost.
These are the most popular networked smart charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.
- Blink (Car Charging)
- Electrify America/Electrify Canada
- ZEF energy
- OP Connect
- GE WattStation
- Circuit Electrique
- Tesla (Superchargers and Destination)
- Sun Country Highway
Independent Public Charging Stations
Independent chargers are installed by individuals or local businesses that choose to allow public charging on their property. It is not required to be a member of any network to use these chargers. However, conditions may apply to some.
Workplace charging is very similar to charging at home. This is an option offered by some employers to their employees. This way, EV owners will have access to a parking spot with level 1 or 2 charging stations that will charge their car during the day. Depending on your schedule, charging only at work may be sufficient for all of your travels.
Each of the possible EV charging locations has its own set of benefits. Consider your vehicle, your schedule and your habits to determine the best ways to charge. No matter the circumstance, there is an option that will work for you. As electric vehicles grow in popularity, so will availability of various charging solutions.
As the plan to overhaul the infrastructure of the United States takes shape, the transformation will rely heavily on trade professionals who can supply the labor to achieve these goals. Electricians who are able to install and maintain charging stations will be in demand as well as designers and home builders who incorporate charging effortlessly into their home and work places layouts.
Keep up to date with the changes in workforce demands with trades.org. We will help you determine what the new plan means for you and your business and take advantage of new markets that will be opening as technology advances. Our business is to help your business plan and be prepared for changes to the construction industry so you are ready to meet the needs of your customers.