Powering up an electric vehicle (EV) can be a tad difficult for any first-timer. But over time, you quickly get the hang of it. One issue that often confounds new or prospective EV owners involves the proper electric car charging outlet

Typically, you can use two types of outlets to charge your car: a 120v and a 240v outlet. Your car model is the primary determinant of the kind of outlet you need. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the available outlets and how each affects charging time. 

120-volt outlet (Level 1)

120-volt outlets fall in the most common and lowest voltage classification in the U.S. Most residential appliances- cookers, phone chargers, and microwaves use 120 volts.

The National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA) classifies 120V outlets as NEMA 6-15. You must be wondering what the digits stand for. The first digit (6) represents the outlet’s class, while the following number (15) represents the maximum amperage or current.

You can charge your EV using the conventional 120V outlet. Such an outlet is also referred to as a level 1 outlet. Ideally, charging your vehicle using a dedicated circuit is advisable if you plan to do it at home using home electric car charger.

The idea is to ensure the car’s charger doesn’t draw more current and trip your breaker- as would be the case if the charging unit is integrated into the circuitry for the rest of your appliances. If need be, hire an election to create a dedicated circuit in your home.

A level one charger can deliver up to 16amps of power, which gives your vehicle a range of around 6.5 miles per charging hour. It tends to be slower than an outlet delivering more power than a trickle charger. If you have a reasonably short commute during the day, overnight charging using a level one outlet may be a convenient option.

But, a full recharge can take up to 30 hours if you intend to use a trickle charger. Thus, if you need a faster option, you may use a level 2 outlet.  

240-Volt Outlet (Level 2)

If the 120V and 240V outlets were siblings, the latter would be the more muscular and powerful big brother. Technically, a 240-volt outlet delivers more power and charges faster than a 120v outlet. Given its high power output, a 240v outlet is ideal for appliances known for high energy consumption, including driers and water heaters.

Generally, by producing up to 40 amps, a level 2 outlet can deliver roughly 35 miles of range per charging hour. An EV would need between 8 and 12 hours to charge its battery at that rate fully. You can use a public charging station to power up your EV or have an electrical technician install a dedicated level 2 charger in your home.

While at it, you would need to equip your car with an aftermarket charger. Most cars’ stock chargers are exclusively for level 1 charging. That means setting aside between $350 and $750 for a charger. Other changes may also be necessary, such as upgrading the electrical panel to accommodate the high-output outlet.

Level 3 Charging (DC Fast Charging)

Level 3 charging utilizes 480 volts, double what a level 2 outlet offers. Level 3 charging is a preserve of commercial or public charging stations. Unlike a level 1 or 2 outlet that uses alternating current, A DC charging station uses direct current- as the name suggests.

Typically, a level three outlet can provide up to 90 miles of electric range in half an hour. Faster charging means less downtime for your vehicle. The main downside of level 3 charging is its potential to damage your battery due to the high voltage. It’s therefore advisable not to regularly opt for this type of charging setup.

You would want to use an outlet that maximizes power output without compromising charging time in an ideal situation. Here’s a brief look at some of the factors affecting charging time:

Charging Amperage: 

All charging stations are not created equal: some provide more charging current than others. Still, an EV’s battery has a pre-set or defined charging capacity- the power it can accept over a particular duration. What does this mean?

On the one hand, if you try to charge a battery with a low charge rate using an outlet that provides more power, the car can’t take advantage of the extra amperage. On the other hand, if the charging station delivers less power than the car requires, the former would be a limiting factor.

Type of Car

Each EV company integrates its proprietary technology into its batteries. Besides, battery sizes in various models tend to be different. As a result, charging rates vary wildly from one EV model to another. That’s after considering the type of outlet you’re using.

Before rewiring your home, evaluate how frequently you may have to charge an EV in light of your need to use the car. Generally, a level 2 electric car charging outlet is the sweet spot as far as convenient charging goes. And now that you’re in the know, it might be time to join the electric movement if you haven’t done so already!