Level 1 vs Level 2 EV Charging Stations
Now that the Chevrolet Bolt EV, second generation Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 are on the road, drivers have more choices in affordable electric cars with long range.
Pure battery electric vehicles (BEV) can take quite a while to charge if empty; plug in hybrids can recover their electric range more quickly. So, when does it make sense to get a faster home EV charging station (also referred to as an EV charger or EVSE, which in EV lingo stands for electric vehicle supply equipment) installed?
There are three types of chargers, but only the first two are really meant for your home:
Level 1 Charging Stations
These charging stations use a normal 120-volt connection, which uses any standard household outlet; there are no extra costs here. The downside is that charging times can be slow. Many electric vehicle owners will likely find that they typically don’t deplete more of the battery than can be replenished overnight using a basic 120V connection.
View ClipperCreek’s selection of Level 1 Charging Stations.
Level 2 Charging Stations
These EV chargers use a higher-output 240-volt power source, like the one that you plug your oven or clothes dryer into. Charging times are much faster than with a Level 1 EV charging station. A Mercedes B Class 250e, for example, can take 20 hours to fully charge (87 miles of range) with a standard 120-volt charging station. A 240-volt Level 2 charger can fully charge a 250e in three hours.
Most EV owners find they want a faster charge and upgrade to a Level 2 charging station soon after buying their electric car. A high-speed charging station at home is much more convenient and also can add value to your home’s resale value.
Having a Level 2 EVSE at home is ideal because most EV owners find they do the majority of their charging at home. For example, Level 1 home charging simply won’t work for anyone who drives long distances regularly and doesn’t have the time or opportunity to recharge their car during the day. Upgrading to a Level 2 charging station for that owner becomes a necessity, especially if the car is fully electric and there aren’t any public charging stations at the workplace or nearby.
One advantage of the longer range cars is that they should seldom use all their charge in a single day’s commute. With ranges that top 200 miles and average daily commutes of less than 40 miles, it should only be a matter of topping off the battery at night, which can typically be done in a couple hours.
View ClipperCreek’s selection of Level 2 Charging Stations.
Level 3 Charging Stations
These fast-charging devices use very high voltage and can add 90 miles of range to an EV in just 30 minutes in some cases. These chargers, however, are extremely expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and routinely using a Level 3 charger can ultimately hurt your car’s battery, so we wouldn’t consider one for home installation; they are also cost prohibitive for most EV owners.
Click here to learn more about Level 3 Charging Stations.
Determining EV Charging Times
Here are a couple of factors that determine how long it will take to charge your electric vehicle and how many miles of range you can add per hour of charging:
- The EV being charged
- Electric vehicles have battery packs in varying sizes; the battery pack size determines the amount of energy stored in the vehicle.
- The power going into the EV
- Electric vehicles also have varying power ‘acceptance rates.’
- EV charging stations have various max power delivery ratings.
- If the EV charging station offers less power than the vehicle’s maximum acceptance rate, the EV charging station is the limiting factor in charge time. If the vehicle’s acceptance rate is lower than the EV charging station’s maximum output rate, the vehicle is the limiting factor.
- The vehicle’s acceptance rate, or the EV charging station’s output rate
- Divide your electric vehicle’s battery pack rating by whichever number is lower. This will give you the total hours to charge from “empty.”
- Most vehicles will provide this information through the dashboard interface once you plug into an EVSE.
You Can Use Our EVSE Selector Tool to Learn More About Your EV:
- Type of Electric Vehicle (Battery/fully electric or plug-in hybrid)
- Acceptance Rate (kW)
- Battery Size (kWh)
- Electric Range (mi)
- Vehicle Efficiency (mi/kWh)
- Quick Charge Port
- Timer Function Built-In
Find your EV charger.
Need help? Call us at (877) 694-4194 and our world-class customer service will help you find the perfect charger for your car.
© 2022 Enphase Energy, Inc.
Does it take the same watt-hours to charge an empty lithium ion battery to get x miles of driving range as to charge a nearly full battery to get an additional x miles of driving range. If not the same the same question at 50% full.
Thank you for reaching out. The vehicle is in complete control of its charge when using Level 1 or Level 2 charging stations and power will only be passed through when the vehicle is requesting a charge. Most modern vehicles have battery management systems that monitor and regulate the battery temperature and energy flow (among other things) to ensure the longest battery life possible. We do recommend consulting the vehicles owner manual for any recommended best practices. In general we recommend home charging overnight since utility rates and ambient temperatures are usually lowest at these times. Please visit our blog about parking an EV for an extended period of time at https://clippercreek.com/maintain-your-electric-vehicle-battery-while-parked-for-an-extended-time/ for more information.
So this may be a stupid question. Will charging stations turn on and off as needed? Can I hook up my car to a home level 1 or level 2 station, then go on a business trip or vacation and know that it will not overload the battery or allow the battery to die? Also, what temperatures should it be stored in to prevent battery degradation? A simple garage… say 90 to 45 Fahrenheit or is an insolated heated/cooled garage a “must” to get that supposed “200k miles lifetime” out of a battery? I’ve read that some people get ranges in the 100+k range while other complain their batteries are useless after 30k.
Thanks for Post!
Level 1 and Level 2 Electric Vehicle (EV) charging is available for the UCLA community and for visitors who want “top-off” charging. Level 1 and Level 2 charges are free with a valid parking permit.
Hello Gord, Thank you for contacting us. Does the conversion vehicle utilize a SAE J1772 inlet for charging? This will be required to use our charging stations. Vehicles that utilize the SAE J1772 standard will be in complete control of the charge and have an onboard charger which takes in what power it can from the charging station. Our charging stations are a pass through for power and a safety device, they will never deliver more power than what the vehicle is requesting. Also, SAE J1772 compliant vehicles will have an onboard battery management system that monitors the battery pack during charging. Let us know if you have any other questions!
looking at a car that has been converted to electric (a tr6!)… it currently has what would be level 1 hookup (normal 120v). Is it just a matter of having a different “plug” as it were in the garage (hooked up to 220/240v) to get level 2 charging OR do you have to have something on the car to “limit”/control the input into the batteries so they do not overheat/etc from fast charging?
Thank you for asking! An electrician should be able to use your existing wiring to move the outlet into your garage, however it would be best to speak to a licensed electrician about moving the outlet and all that is involved. You would want to be sure you have a 4 prong dryer outlet, called the NEMA 14-30 outlet, as we offer the NEMA 14-30 plug with our plug-in LCS models. If you have a 3 prong dryer outlet, called the NEMA 10-30 outlet, you will likely need some rewiring done as the older style dryer outlet does not utilize a ground wire. All of our models require an earth ground connection in order to operate properly. Additionally, when charging a vehicle, the ground is passed through to the vehicle from the station for safety earth grounding during charging. If a neutral is used instead of a ground the neutral could generate a charge on the vehicle chassis, creating a potential safety hazard upon contact with the vehicle during or after charging.
Most models of the Chevy Volt are limited to charging at 15A for charging so you would be able to use our LCS-20P model and receive the fastest charge. With the new 2019 Volt there is an option for an upgraded charge package that would allow the vehicle to charge at about 30A. For the Volt with an upgraded charge package a higher power unit, like our HCS-40, would provide a faster charge. If your Volt is limited to the 15A for charging a higher power unit will not charge the vehicle any faster, however having the higher power model installed would allow you to be ready for a vehicle you purchase in the future that may take in more power. We refer to this as future proofing your installation.
Please let us know if you have any other questions.
I have an used 220 outlet in my Landry room. My garage is on the other side of the wall. Can I have an electrician move the outlet to my garage and use it for my Chevy Volt?
2nd question, I see lots of amp options for the level 2 chargers. They higher amp chargers cost more than the lower amp ones but don’t charge any quicker. Is there a benefit to having the higher amp chargers?
Great question! It is our understanding that the Chevy Bolt is limited to a maximum of 12A for charging at 120V power. We offer higher power Level 1 (120V) units called our ACS series, which are hardwired Level 1 units, however they would likely not charge the Bolt any faster than the unit that came with the vehicle due to the limitation of the onboard charger for the Bolt.
For a faster charge you would want to install a Level 2 (240V) charging station, if possible. For the Chevy Bolt we would recommend our HCS-40 or HCS-40P. The HCS-40(P) can deliver up to 32A for charging and would charge the Bolt as fast as it can be charged, which is about 7.5 – 8 hours from completely empty to completely full. Another way to look at the charging speed is with the HCS-40(P) would you recuperate about 22 – 24 miles of range per hour of charge. The HCS-40 is a hardwired model which sells for $565 and the HCS-40P is the plug-in version which sells for $589:
HCS-40P with NEMA 14-50 plug
HCS-40P with NEMA 6-50 plug
Please let us know if you have any other questions
Question: I have a 120 volt 30 amp outlet, what is the fastest rate I can charge my 2017 Chevy Bolt, and what charger do you recommend?
Hi Jeff! Thank you for your great questions! Level 2 charging has been found to be more efficient than Level 1 charging. The efficiency is gained by the vehicles on-board charging system which in general (I am not aware of any that do not) operate more efficiently at the 208 to 240V level. This information is based on general principles around how on-board battery chargers work. Information around on-board chargers in vehicle with that level of specifics is generally held by automakers as proprietary so we do not have a list.
Charging at Level 2 can also benefit customers through a lower cost to charge due to getting all of their charging done during off peak utility rate times, like from midnight to 6AM as an example (if your utility offers this type of rate). I understand you are able to charge up your Volt during the off peak hours with the Level 1 cordset, however if you were to ever get a vehicle with a larger battery pack in the future you may need the faster charging to complete the charge within the off peak rate time frame.
There are many programs around the country that provide incentives for installing a Level 2 EVSE. We recommend you contact your local utility or check the
US Department of Energy Laws websitefor any local incentives that may be available for installing a Level 2 EVSE (charging station).
I can charge my Volt at home from empty to full charge during cheap off peak hours using only a level 1 charger and be ready to leave for work on time.
So is there a financial incentive to install a level 2 station? Does a level 2 recharge my Volt more efficiently than a level 1? i.e. will it take less electricity using a level 2 than a level 1?
This may be a stupid question by my knowledge of electricity can be summed up by “Dont stick a fork in the wall socket” and “Hire an electrician”!
Hi Lorne! Thank you for your question. In order to charge an electric vehicle a charging station must be used. Charging stations are built into the EV charging standard for electrical safety; first for the user, then the vehicle and then the power grid. The charging stations primary function is as electrical safety equipment. A standard home charging station, whether it is a Level 1 (120V) station or a Level 2 (240V) station, will provide pass through AC power to the vehicle for charging. The vehicle will convert this AC power to DC power and utilize that to recharge the batteries, the actual charger is on-board the vehicle. A charging station implements several layers of redundant safety features to protect the user from potential electrical hazards while connecting and disconnecting the station to the vehicle for charging. Once connected to the vehicle the station will inform the vehicle that power is available and at what level. From that point the vehicle takes over, initiates and takes full control of the power transfer, unless an electrical fault occurs, in which case the station will stop the power transfer immediately.
There are some units on the market where the “charging station” portion is very small so it can look like it is just charging cable, however it still has the charging station portion as it is required.
What does a level 2 charging station do that a 240v range outlet does not? I have seen where some cars can just be plugged directly into a dryer or range outlet. For one I know that the car can not be moved while attached to some charging stations, and electricity will not be delivered if there is a fault in the vehicle. What are the other benefits for the $1000 cost?
Hi Joe, we have many different power options available when it comes to our Level 2 (240V) charging stations. The 32A charging station is our HCS-40 and it should be installed onto a dedicated 40A circuit. If you were to install the HCS-40 on a 60A circuit the unit would still be limited to 32A for charging as this is programmed into the unit at the factory. The Tesla Model 3 is available in those two versions you mentioned. The 7.7kW or 9.6kW onboard charger means the vehicle will not take in more power than this for charging. As mentioned before, the HCS-40 provides up to 32A for charging which equates to about 7.7kW (32A x 240V). The HCS-40 would charge the Standard Model 3 as fast as it can be charged, but the Long Range Tesla would be limited to the 7.7kW max of the HCS-40 instead of being able to take in the 9.6kW that it can.
If you are going to be installing a dedicated 60A circuit I would recommend looking into our HCS-60. The HCS-60 can deliver up to 48A for charging and would charge most vehicles as fast as they can be charged. If a vehicle can take in more than 48A for charging (currently only some Tesla models are capable of this) the vehicle would still receive about 35 – 37 miles of range per hour of charge. The HCS-60 may have more power than what would be needed for a vehicle you purchase today, but it will have the extra power available for an electric vehicle you may purchase in the future. The HCS-60 sells for $899 and can be seen at
the ClipperCreek store.
Hope we have answered your questions! Feel free to reach us through live chat on our website or over the phone at (877) 694-4194 as well.
We are in the process of completely re-doing our garage and want to add a In-home charging capability for future Electric or Hybrid Car (we don’t have 1 as of now). The Electrician recommended adding a 240V 60 AMP circuit connected to a wall plug in garage. As I look at the very-helpful chart of Charge Time & Miles per Charged Hour you provided, I notice that the Level 2 Charger you stated has a 32 AMP Max Charging Current. So with my 240V 60 AMP circuit, it will still charge at 32 AMP Rate then right? I did notice for example the Tesla 3 has an acceptance rate of either 7.7 kw(standard) or 9.6 kw (Long Range) but not sure how that relates to the 60 AMP (my garage) or the 32 AMP max (your chart)? And what about future capacity as I imagine electric car (and Battery) technology will keep advancing? Hope my question make sense . Thanks.
The efficiency is gained by the vehicles on-board charging system which in general (I am not aware of any that do not) operate more efficiently at the 208 to 240V level. This information is based on general principles around how on-board battery chargers work. Information around on-board chargers in vehicle with that level of specifics is generally held by automakers as proprietary so we do not have a list.
Charging at Level 2 can also benefit customers through a lower cost to charge due to getting all of their charging done during off peak utility rate times, like from midnight to 6AM as an example (if your utility offers this type of rate).
The IEEE conducted a study IEEE on the
efficiency differences between L1 and L2 charging. As electric vehicle penetration grows, it is important to ensure that this new technology is deployed such that long-term efficiency and environmental benefits are maximized. In this study we examined the charging efficiency of Level 1 (120 Volt) and Level 2 (240 Volt) Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). Charging efficiency was defined as the percentage of power drawn from the electric grid that is actually taken up by the vehicle battery. We installed logging devices in 2 Nissan Leafs and 2 Chevrolet Volts in Vermont to track charging efficiency at each Level 1 and Level 2 charging event. Data was collected between June and November 2013 to provide a range of climatic conditions. Usable data was obtained from 115 charges and mean charging efficiency was found to be 85.7%. On average, Level 2 charging was 5.6% more efficient than Level 1 (89.4% vs. 83.8%). In those charges in which the battery took up less than 4 kWh, this difference in efficiency was even greater: 87.2% for Level 2 vs. 74.2% for Level 1. Efficiency gains of Level 2 charging also increased under low (<; 50°F) and high (> 70°F) temperatures. These results suggest that the impact of the observed efficiency gains may be biggest at public charging stations, where charging times tend to be short and climatic conditions more variable, rather than residential charging. Future research should consider the relative efficiency of DC Fast charging and wireless charging, as well as how charging efficiency varies among vehicle models and at lower temperatures (<32°F).
Thanks for the question, Doug!
Why do you say a Level 2 charger is more efficient for most vehicles? Can you explain why? Do you have a list of cars which would benifit from a Level 2 charger and which ones would not?
Thanks for reaching out to us.
You should see no noticeable difference on the battery pack longevity when charging at Level 1 or Level 2; charging at Level 2 is actually more efficient for most vehicles. The vehicles on-board battery management system will regulate power flow into the batteries (in either charging scenario) and keep the battery pack in the best possible state during the charging process to maintain the battery life as best as possible.
Please let us know if you have any questions or if you need any additional information.
Do level 1 and level 2 charging effect the life of the battery differently?
The “Battery Size” column on your table is a bit misleading, through no fault of yours. Manufacturers have not standardized how they report total and usable battery capacity. I know while VW says my e-Golf has a 24 kWh battery, I’ve only been able to use 20.5 kWh. I have read that the Bolt EV, while listed at 60 kWh, in fact has a larger battery but has a full 60 kWh of usable capacity. Of course, these numbers are only valid in a new car as there probably will be some degradation of capacity over time.