The three different types of EV chargers  – explained

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So you’re about to pull the trigger on an electric vehicle (or EV, you’re into lingo) – probably not least due to the savings you’ll make on fuel costs and the convenience of charging at home.

But which charger is which – and how long will they take to charge your EV? This article demystifies the world of chargers and recommends how you can best take advantage of them.

EV chargers demystified

There are three types of EV chargers in Australia, ranging from Level 1 to Level 3.

Level 1: AC trickle charging

Charging time: up to 48 hours

This is the most basic home or destination charging option, where you plug the car into a standard 240V AC (alternating current) socket using specialised charging equipment. 

While convenient, this is the slowest method, offering only about 2.0kW of power through a normal 10A socket. This means it can take up to 48 hours to charge your car, depending on the battery size. While this is fine for a hybrid vehicle, it’s less convenient for a fully electric vehicle.

These chargers are usually supplied free with EVs. In our view, they are best used as travel chargers or emergency back up chargers, rather than a main charger.

Level 2:  AC fast charging

Charging time: 6 to 12 hours

When most people talk about ‘dedicated EV chargers’, this is the type of charger they’re usually referring to (and the type we normally install).

These are the chargers that are typically installed in residential homes, in strata and commercial building car parks, and in some service stations. Common brands include Wallbox, Evnex, Tesla and Schneider. They still run off the mains AC power supply, which makes them simple to install. However, they nearly quadruple the charging power to 7.4kW (or can even supply 11–22kW via three-phase power).

This brings charging times down considerably, with a full charge taking between six and twelve hours (depending on your vehicle’s battery size). This makes it viable to charge your EV overnight at home or throughout a workday.

Most EV dealers offer a Level 2 charger as an optional extra; alternatively, you can purchase one privately or through a certified installer like Saints Electrical. Installing a Level 2 charger at home is a no-brainer if you’re planning to use your EV on a regular basis.

Level 3:  DC rapid charging

Charging time: 30 minutes 

Level 3 chargers are the bee’s knees of EV chargers. They’re the rapid chargers used at service stations, in some car parks and street side charging, for fleet vehicles and for certain commercial users. These chargers are direct current (DC): the electricity bypasses the AC/DC inverter and is fed straight into the battery, allowing for faster and more efficient charging. 

Charging capacity ranges from 50kW on a rapid charger up to 350kW on an ultra-rapid unit. Level 3 chargers will usually charge your battery to 80% within half an hour – perfect for topping up on long distance trips. A map of EV chargers around Australia can be found at https://www.plugshare.com/ – you can also download their app to your smartphone.

However, these stations sometimes require more power than your entire house, cost upwards of $25,000, and require major panel and service upgrades – which is why they’re generally not feasible for home use. 

What charger do I need?

Your choice of charger depends on your circumstances and power needs. However, Saints Electrical generally recommends a Level 2 charger at a minimum if you’re purchasing an EV for daily personal use and want to install a charger at home. 

If you’re looking to install one or more chargers at your business, you’ll probably be investigating Level 2 and Level 3 chargers. The vast majority of businesses that are looking to offer charging as a service to employees and customers opt for Level 2 chargers: however, Level 3 chargers may also be an option, especially if you are planning to run a fleet or offer charging services to travellers.As southern Sydney’s EV charger experts, Saints Electrical are here to help. We can advise on which type and brand of EV charger is best for your circumstances, and carry out any upgrades necessary for installation, and install your charger quickly and to the highest quality. To book your charger chat, contact us today.

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