What are the different kinds of chargers?

There are three basic types of charging available for EVs.

Level 1 charging happens through a regular 110 household outlet. Most EVs include a Level 1 charger, which is portable, and can be plugged in anywhere there is an electrical outlet. They charge at a rate of about 4 miles per hour of charge time, which is enough to top off most cars overnight.

A charger in the trunk!

Level one charger in the trunk of an EV.

Level 2 charging happens through a dedicated device connected to 240 volt power (like the outlet required for a clothes dryer). They can be installed in the home, and charge a car four to five times faster than Level 1. You can get up to 20 miles or more in an hour of charging. Level 2 charging is also available in many public places, including shopping centers, office parks, public parking lots and elsewhere. Some are free but most charge a reasonable amount to charge. Some use regular credit cards but most are part of charging networks that require special charging cards. Examples include “ChargePoint,” “EVGo,” and “Blink.”

An EV plugged in to a level 2 charger.

Some of the many types of level 2 chargers now available.

Level 3, or fast charging, happens through high-voltage DC devices, that are most commonly located along highways and transportation corridors. You usually have to pay a few dollars to charge, but drivers on longer trips are happy to be able to charge at a rate of 200-300 miles in an hour, meaning they can top off an empty battery in 20-50 minutes.

An EV plugged in to a fast level 3 charger.

NOTE: Most EVs have the correct port to allow for Level 3 charging, but some do not. If you think you will need this type of charging, make sure the car you are considering offers that option. In some cases, adapters can be used to allow Level 3 charging, when approved by the EV manufacturer.

This EV has two charger inputs. The one on the left is for a fast level 3 charger, and the one on the right for level 1 or 2.