What Is The Difference Between A Level 1 And Level 2 Charger?


With electric cars gaining more and more buzz each year, we are starting to see them all over the place. Lots of the people we know are now buying electric cars. More and more electric charging stations are popping up at gas stations, grocery stores, and malls all around the country. Electric car technologies are getting better and better which is convincing more and more people to make the switch.

If you have talked with anyone about electric cars, you have likely talked to them about charging. You most likely have heard the terms “Level 1 and Level 2” chargers. So what is the difference between a level 1 and level 2 charger? The difference between Level 1 and Level 2 chargers is the power rating. Level 1 chargers are 120V (20A) chargers and Level 2 chargers are 208-240V (40A) chargers. Level 2 chargers can charge at a much faster rate than a Level 1 charger, but both can be found in a regular home.

Charging is every new electric car owner’s biggest fear. How long will it take to charge my car? How many miles can I get between charges? How much time will stopping to charge add to my road trip? These are all very valid concerns. No one wants to buy a car that is going to be a huge inconvenience.

It turns out there is no one answer for how long your car will take to charge. Obviously, there will be small differences between different makes and models. Although, arguably the biggest factor in charging time is the type of charger that you are using. If you are wanting your car to charge quickly, you will need a faster charger. If you are on a road trip, most of the chargers you will see are called fast chargers.

What Is The Difference Between A Level 1 And 2 Charger?

So, let us dive into what exactly the differences are between these two different types of chargers. As we previously mentioned, a level 1 charger is a 120V (20A) charger. This is just the standard power outlet you can find all around your house. A level 1 charger is just plugging your car into a regular wall outlet. These types of chargers are very convenient as everyone already has them. You do not need to add anything to your house in order to charge your electric car.

A level 2 charger is 208-240V (40A). While many homes will have this type of power set up in their garage, not all houses do. This type of power is often used for running larger equipment, welders, or dryers. If you do have this in your garage, you are all set to charge your electric car using a level 2 charger. If you do not have one of these, you can always get it added relatively cheaply. This type of charger is used to power

So, what does having a higher power charger mean? If we take a look at one of the most basic electrical equations out there, it states that power is equal to voltage times current. The common units for power are Watts or Kilowatts. That means that as your voltage and current increase, you are getting more power out of the circuit. A level 2 charger is both higher voltage and higher current, so you get a lot more power out of it. So, what does this do for your car?

The main benefit of a higher power rate is faster charger times. Generally, with a level 1 charger, you will get about 1.4 kW. That equates to about 4 miles of range per hour. Obviously, to charge a car from 0 to 100% at this rate will take quite a long time. Generally, that charging time is around 11-20 hours. A level two charger will charge much faster. You now will have between 6.2-7.6 kW which equates to about 32 miles per hour. Obviously, this is significantly faster.

How Much Does Each Charger Cost To Install At Home?

If you do not have your own level 2 charger at home, you may be wondering about how expensive it would be to get one installed. It is actually relatively cheap. In general, you can get one installed for between $850 and $2,200. That would include all of the parts necessary as well as the labor to get everything set up by a professional electrician.

There are cheaper parts that you can find. For example, Amazon sells some level 2 chargers for a little above $200. If you are looking to get a level 2 charger installed as cheaply as possible, there are some cheaper options. Keep in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean better.

A lot of newer homes are starting to come with 240V plugs in the garage as standard. If that is the case, you can save yourself some money by not having to get the power switched over. Although, if you don’t have higher voltage plugs available, the cost is not too terrible compared to the amount of time it can save you for charging your electric car.

How Much Time Would I Save With A Level 2 Charger?

So, how much time can you actually save with a level 2 charger? As we previously discussed, a level 2 charger outputs quite a bit more power than a level 1 charger. A level 1 charger is about 1.4 kW which will charge your car about 4 miles of driving range per hour.

A level two charger has about 6.2-7.6 kW and can charge your car about 32 miles of driving range per hour. Obviously, this is significantly faster. With a level 1 charger, you are looking at around 11-20 hours of charging for a full charge (depending on the car you have). With a stage two charger, you are looking at more like 3-8 hours for a full charge. So, what charger should you get?

What you need will largely depend on your driving habits. If you are someone who only ever uses your electric car for a short commute to and from work, it will be easier for you to just let your car charge overnight while you are sleeping. This means you might not even need a level 2 charger. It may come in handy one day if you ever need to charge more quickly, but if your habits do not really require it, then you can be perfectly happy with just a level 1 charger.

If your schedule is less predictable and you put quite a bit more miles on your car on a daily basis, then you may have no choice but to use a level 2 charger. If you have a level 2 plug already set up in your garage, then you are golden. This will allow you to charge your car whenever you need it.

Can I Install A Level 2 Charger At Home By Myself?

If you really want a level 2 charger at your house and are trying to save some more money on the setup, you might be wondering if you could do it yourself. If you are comfortable working with electricity, then it should be a relatively easy task, as long as you take the proper precautions.

Your house is usually supplied with 120V. You need to double that voltage in order to get 240V in your garage. To do this, you will connect a double pole circuit breaker to two busses. This will result in a 240V output. From there, you just need to run your cable over to the outlet that you will be using. Once you have the wires connected and the outlet installed, all you need to do is plug your charger in and you now have a level 2 charger.

If you aren’t super familiar with working with electricity, it may be best to leave this job to a professional, even if it does sound simple. Working with high voltage can be dangerous and if things are not secured and connected properly, it can lead to problems down the road or could become even more dangerous. You also pose the risk of damaging your electric car charger if something is wrong. Although, if you are looking to do this entire installation yourself, you can save yourself a couple of hundred bucks by putting it all together yourself.

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