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16 May 2024

Level 1, 2, or 3: Which EV Charger Level Do You Need?

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
blogPost

With over 61,000 public charging points and an estimated 700,000 home EV chargers in the UK, it’s clear that drivers are increasingly making the switch to electric vehicles. 


If you’re one of them, you might be navigating the world of electric vehicle (EV) chargers and wondering which level is right for you.


There are three levels — 1, 2, and 3 — each designed with specific features to meet different charging needs. 


We’re here to break down the differences without the jargon, helping you understand what each level offers. Whether you're new to electric vehicles or looking to upgrade your charging setup, our guide will assist you in making an informed decision about which charger is the best match for your EV charging needs.


A quick overview


TL;DR? Don’t worry, we have a summary of the pros and cons of each EV charger type. 


Level 1


Pros:

  • Cheapest

  • Most accessible — can use a standard plug socket


Cons:

  • Slowest to charge

  • Not suitable for commercial vehicles


Level 2:


Pros:

  • Quicker at-home option

  • Suitable for residential and commercial EVs


Cons:

  • May come with additional costs

  • Doesn’t fit a standard 120V plug


Level 3:


Pros: 

  • Fastest — can fully charge an EV in an hour

  • Suitable for residential, commercial, and heavy-duty vehicles


Cons: 

  • More expensive

  • Not generally suitable for domestic use

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EV charging: Level 1 and Level 2 vs Level 3


An EV charger is essential for anyone with an electric vehicle, as it replenishes the battery and keeps your car running. These chargers come in three levels, each offering different charging speeds and power capacities to suit a variety of needs and setups. 


As we’ll explore in more depth, Level 1 EV chargers are typically used at home and provide a slow, steady charge — ideal for overnight use. Meanwhile, Level 2 chargers are faster, making them suitable for home and public settings. Then there are Level 3 EV chargers. These offer the quickest charging, perfect for rapid top-ups during longer journeys. 


Understanding these levels can help you choose the right charger to fit your lifestyle and driving habits. But how exactly do they differ? Let’s explore some of the key features to consider when finding the right EV charger for your vehicle.


Do EV chargers fit into a standard electrical outlet?


Choosing the right EV charger often starts with a simple question: Can it plug into a standard electrical plug socket? 


  • Level 1 EV chargers: For these chargers, the answer is yes. You can plug your Level 1 EV charger right into your regular home outlet (120V in the UK). This makes them a handy choice if you're after an easy, fuss-free setup. They're great for daily use without needing any special wiring.


  • Level 2 EV chargers: This type of EV charger cannot fit a standard outlet. You’ll need to step it up with a 240V outlet, which isn't your standard plug. You'll likely need a professional to install a dedicated circuit. It’s a bit more work, but the payoff in charging speed might just be worth it for you.


  • Level 3 EV chargers: These chargers are a different beast — and certainly not suitable for a 120V socket. They require high-power connections that you won't find in most homes. You’ll usually find Level 3 chargers at public stations where you can charge on the go.


It’s worth noting that installing a Level 3 EV charger at home is usually impractical due to high power demands and cost. It’s better suited to workplaces and other commercial spaces. In general, most residential setups cannot support this without significant upgrades. Level 2 chargers are more suitable for home use, offering a good balance between speed and expense. 


Is the output AC or DC?


Once you’ve established how you plug your charger in, you’ll want to think about its output.


  • Level 1 and Level 2 chargers send AC (Alternating Current) to your car, which your car’s system then turns into DC (Direct Current) for battery storage. This setup works well for home charging.


  • Level 3 EV chargers, however, pump DC directly into your electrical vehicle. This bypasses the car's internal converter, slashing charging times dramatically. Perfect when you need a quick boost to keep moving!


What type of electric vehicle is an EV charger suitable for?


Let’s match your EV to the right charger, considering what you drive and how you use it. Each charger type brings something different to the table. By knowing what kind of car you drive and how you use it, you can pick the perfect charger to suit your needs. 


Whether it's keeping the daily grind smooth or making sure you're ready for that big trip, the right charger makes all the difference.


Level 1 chargers


These are suitable for standard residential EVs. They’re best for lighter, everyday use or if you’re just topping up overnight. They also work well for plug-in hybrids as they’re Ideal for those small, daily runs — keeping you fully charged without fuss.


Level 2 chargers


A Level 2 EV charger is also great for residential vehicles, especially if you’re clocking up more miles. It’s also a good fit for larger, family EVs — if your car has a bigger battery that needs frequent charging, this is a more suitable option than a Level 1 charger.


You might also want to consider Level 2 chargers if you run a small fleet of commercial cars — they can help you ensure your vehicles are charged up and ready for the road quickly.


Level 3 chargers


A Level 3 EV charger is the only option suitable for heavy-duty vehicles and high-performance electric cars. If you’ve got a powerful motor, you’ll need a charger that can keep up.


Level 3 chargers are also a must-have for those longer trips where time is of the essence, so bear this in mind if you drive a long-range residential or commercial EV.


How fast does each level charge your vehicle?


Now it’s time to think about charging speed. Whether you need a quick boost or overnight charging, there's a charger that meets your needs. Let's take a look at how quickly each level tops up your vehicle to help you choose wisely and ensure your drives are smooth and stress-free. 


  • Level 1 EV chargers are on the slower side, adding about 4-5 miles of range per hour. If you park your car for long periods, like overnight, these will do just fine. 


Think of it as a slow and steady way to top up, perfect for those who use their car lightly during the day.


  • Level 2 chargers offer a quicker fix, giving you 12-80 miles of range per hour. This makes them great for everyday use, especially if you need your car ready and fully charged by morning. 


They're a solid choice for daily commuters and also work well for weekend trips that require a bit more juice.


  • Level 3 chargers really pick up the pace, delivering up to 100 miles of range in just 20 minutes. If you're in a rush, these are your best bet. For a full charge, give it about an hour, and you'll be set to go again. 


They're perfect for long trips where time matters, and you need to get back on the road quickly without long waits.


Level 3 rapid chargers are becoming more and more popular. In the first three months of 2024 alone, 1500 Level 3 EV chargers were installed in the UK.


Find the right EV charger for you with SpotDif


Finding the right EV charger doesn't have to be complicated. At SpotDif, we simplify the process for you. Whether you need a slow, steady charge overnight or a fast boost during a busy day, we'll guide you through the options. 


Let us help you select a charger that fits perfectly with your lifestyle and daily routine. Start your journey to efficient and convenient EV charging today by using our EV charger comparison tool. We’ll make sure you're always ready to go, no matter where your travels take you.

author
Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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