EvAdvisers LLC Electric Vehicle Chargers

EVAdiser

Guide to Level 2 Chargers

Are you looking to charge your electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid electric car 3 times faster than the standard Level 1 charging cord sold with your car?

If the answer was YES!, then purchasing a Level 2 ESVE car charger, is the answer.

Level 1 Chargers sold with most U.S. cars today are made to work with standard household 120Volt 15Amp outlets (the kind located throughout your household).

Level 2 Chargers require 240Volt 20Amp or higher amperage outlets.

Charge rates / Cost to charge

Most electric vehicle cars allow you to charge at minimum of 3.3kWh per hour or higher (the charge speed is controlled by your car’s on-board equipment, Not the charger itself).

What is kWh (kilo Watt hours)? It is the rate your charger uses power, per hour). See the chart at the bottom for charge acceptance rates for most EV’s, or your cars’ manual, if it is not listed.

Does it cost more to charge using a faster Level 2 charger? No! Using a faster Level 2 charger’s main advantage is SAVING TIME. The cost to use it is the same as a Level 1 charger.

Note: It typically does not matter how fast you charge, but may matter when you charge. Some power companies charge less, late at night per kWh. Most U.S. manufacturers are tell customers that the average is 12 cents per kWh nationwide, in 2017, but California’s Southern California Edison (SCE) for example has 3 basic rates. Tier 1 to Tier 3 ranging from 16 cents to 31 cents per kWh. Using a 3.3kWh Level 2 charger, charging for 3 hours, at 16 cents per kWh would cost $1.58 in power. SCE does have a special nighttime rate for night charging, but it only appears to provide savings, if you work nights, and don’t consume power the rest of the day. Check with your power company for special rates, special rate offers for night time charging will differ from one power provider to the next. Charging during lower per Kwh hours may reduce your bill. There are also low income and solar equipped home discounts in some areas. Being able to charge 3 times as fast in a reduced amount of time, may allow you to take advantage of nighttime, or off peak rates. It’s worth researching.

Level 2 chargers will typically charge 3 times or more faster than the Level 1 charger you were issued by the car manufacturer. A 9-hour charge will take less than 3 hours using a Level 2 charger.

There is a clear advantage of charging faster. For example: If you live 10 miles from a shopping center and it’s 20 miles round trip. You can charge your battery with 25 miles of range in 3 hours. If you decide you want to do multiple errands in a day, or go to the mall two times, you can do it. Using a Level 1 charger with a 9-hour charge time is just too impractical to make two or more trips in day.

Types of Level 2 chargers

Are there different level 2 chargers? YES!

Can I use any level 2 charger? Typically, YES! (Your car controls how much power the charger is allowed to supply to it). Please check your cars user manual for the max acceptance rate.

Is there a difference between all the Level 2 chargers? YES! Level 2 chargers are usually powered by 240Volt 20Amp, 40Amp, or 50Amp lines (from the breaker to the outlet where you plug in the charger). Each charger has its own max output usually between 16-40Amps.

Power outlets and power needed to use the charger

To use a Level 2 charger you will need to use an existing 240Volt outlet or install one. The cheapest option is to use an unused 30Amp Electric Dryer outlet in your garage (close to where you can charge your car).

When selecting a charger you must have enough power to power the charger properly. So, if you have a 30Amp outlet. Select a Level 2 16Amp charger. A 40 Amp outlet use a 32Amp charger, and if you have a 50Amp outlet then a 40Amp charger.

NEW WIRING. If you don’t have an existing outlet a typical install of a new breaker and outlet will cost $150.00 or less to do it yourself, and $500.00 for an electrician to install it.  If you decide to hire an electrician to install a new dedicated outlet for your charger. We recommend at 50Amp circuit. Most chargers will allow you to use an adapter or can be purchased with the 14-50Amp plug. If you plan on using an EV for years to come, access to that higher 50Amp outlet will pay off. Things to consider. Your electrician will need to evaluate your breaker box. There is a maximum number of Amps that it can draw, and your house is likely already using some or all of its rated capacity. Your electrician may only be able to install a 20Amp circuit. That’s fine too. You will still charge 3 times faster than your Level 1 with a Level 2 240Volt 16Amp charger.

Wall mount vs. Portable Level 2 chargers. You will pay more to install a wall mounted charger, and you will pay every time you have the wall charger gets replaced by an electrician (when it breaks). If you use a portable charger and it stops working. Go to the internet, search for a new one, buy it, plug it in, and you’re done. No need for an electrician. If you move, take the portable charger with you. If you travel, take the charger with you. If you sell your car, sell the charger with the car. There are numerous reasons that plug-in portable Level 2 chargers make more sense, which is why we highly recommend them. If you still want to install a wall mounted unit that’s fine. You may have other reasons like multiple people using it, it looks nicer, provides a higher charge rate, etc. But keep in mind they both charge the same way and based on the chargers’ abilities will probably charge at the same rate.

Choosing the right Level 2 Charger

Which charger should I buy?

240Volt 16Amp charger for cars rated 3.3kWh (on a 20Amp outlet)

240Volt 32Amp charger for cars rated 6.6kWh (on a 40Amp outlet)

240Volt 40Amp charger for cars rated 6.6kWh or HIGHER (on a 50Amp outlet)

What if I buy a 16Amp 3.3kWh charger and my car is rated for 6.6kWh or higher?

It will just take longer to charge, but will still charge much faster than a Level 1.

What if I buy a 32Amp 6.6kWh charger and my car is rated for only 16Amps 3.3kWh?

Normally you can use a higher output charger. Your car does the regulation and will reduce the input. Most cars will reduce the input charge without any issues. If you’re not sure please contact your dealership or manual for specifications on your EV’s battery processor before buying a charger.

Note: If you have a Level 2 / 3 car like a Tesla, they make a J1772 adapter (so that you can charge using any of the above listed chargers). Tesla does have fast chargers that can charge at rates from 72Amp-120Amps, but will require trained installers / electricians and may require upgrades to your power panel. Most household power panels are rated from 125-225Amps (that’s the allotment for the whole house)  and adding a 72Amp or higher outlet will require a major and costly panel upgrade.