What are the different types of EV chargers?

As of October 2020, there are 383, 900 electric vehicles registered in the UK. And yet there are only 34, 360 charging points around the nation.

With electric vehicles becoming increasingly popular, businesses that can offer electric vehicle charging points are in high demand. Whether the charging points are for your employees or customers, businesses greatly benefit from having electric charging stations.

As well as being able to offer a helpful surface, EV chargers can help your company reduce their carbon footprint by encouraging employees to use electric vehicles.

Figuring out what kind of charger to install can be a bit confusing for the uninitiated. But once you wrap your head around the different levels, it’s fairly simple.

We’re going to talk you through the levels of EV chargers and how they differ from each other post-installation.

NB: The advice given in this article is for commercial premises only. It does not apply to domestic properties.

Level 1

Also known as slow charging, this is standard across all electric vehicles. This means that older models can use this kind of charger even if they’re not equipped for level 3 charging.

In terms of installation, you only need to provide dedicated plug sockets on the outside of your building. You can also get smartphone-enabled level 1 chargers which lets you charge or restrict usage as you see fit.

Level 1 chargers use 120V AC plugs which mean that they can be plugged into common household sockets.

Most electric vehicle drivers use this method of charging at home overnight as level 1 chargers can take between 8 – 12 hours to charge. The precise time depends on the technology within the car.

For businesses hoping to attract customers with electric charging points, level 1 chargers are not ideal. This is because customers will not be on the premises long enough to top up their car.

If you want to offer employees EV chargers, level 1 chargers are a good option as they tend to be cheaper to install and can be used by all vehicles.

If you’re looking for charging points for a company fleet, then you’ll need to think about how often the vehicles are taken out and how quickly they need to charge. You might be better off with a quicker charger.

Level 2

These are often known as fast chargers. Depending on the engine technology, they can charge a car in 4-6 hours.

Unlike the level 1 chargers, level 2 chargers need a dedicated 40amp circuit and the installation of a charging unit. They deliver power through a 240V AC plug.

In style and shape, they are similar to petrol pumps. They have a built-in cord that connects to the vehicle using the same kind of connector as level 1 charging leads. This means that all electric vehicles can use the charger though some vehicles may not accept the faster speed.

There are a variety of styles and shapes available. Many commercial units are smart app integrated which lets you restrict usage and charge per hour if you wish. This is ideal for businesses who want to allow customers access but limit use by the general public.

The other choice you have with level 2 charges is whether you want tethered or untethered chargers.

Tethered chargers have the built-in charging cable. This is less work for drivers as they just need to put the connector into the car. However, the downside is that some cars may not be compatible with the cable. This is especially true of older cars.

Untethered chargers do not have a supplied cable. This means that drivers will need to use their own. It’s a little bit more hassle and some drivers don’t like to leave the cable unattended in case of theft. However, it does mean that most cars will be able to use the charger with no issue.

If you have a fleet of electric vehicles you want to charge, then a level 2 tethered charger is a great option. They work fairly quickly, there won’t be any issues with missing cables and they can be pole-mounted to reduce the installation costs.

Level 3

Also known as rapid chargers, these are the newest kinds of EV chargers available in the UK. Unlike level 1 and 2 chargers, level 3 chargers use DC power. This allows the unit to supply more power than AC units.

These are the kind of chargers you find in petrol stations and some supermarkets across the UK. They tend to be stand-alone units with a tethered charging cable. Often these units will provide level 1 and level 2 charging for cars that don’t accept level 3 charging.

Level 3 chargers can provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes depending on the vehicle.

Unfortunately, not every car accepts the connector and the charging speed. Level 3 chargers use a CHAdeMO DC connector to handle the larger currents and faster charging times. This was created and pioneered by Japanese car manufacturers.

Japanese vehicles like Nissan and Mitsubishi were the earliest to adopt this kind of technology but a number of EV manufacturers have also made their newer models compatible.

In relation to your business, level 3 chargers are great for customers, employees and fleets. They really come into their own for businesses dependent on walk-in customers like shops and restaurants. The speed of these chargers allows customers to charge while they shop.

Differences at a glance

 

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Outlet 120V 240V 200V – 600V
Power type AC AC DC
Power Output 1.3kW – 2.4kW 3kW – 19kW 43kW+
Charging time 8 – 12 hours 4 – 6 hours < 1 hour
Compatibility Universal Universal connection but  limited charging speed acceptance. Limited
Installation options Wall-mounted

 

Untethered.

Wall-mounted or pole mounted.

 

Tethered or untethered.

Stand-alone tethered unit.
Connector Type 2 Type 2 CHAdeMO or Combined Charging System

 

Final Thoughts

The world of EV chargers can be confusing. It’s filled with technical jargon and electrical terms that puts off a lot of people.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the different levels of EV chargers and their applications for your premises.

Whether you want to attract customers, help your employees or power a fleet, there are EV chargers to suit every business.

There is a cost associated with EV charging, namely purchase and installation costs. These can be mitigated with government grants. You can read more about these here.

Ultimately, with electric vehicles becoming more and more popular, it pays to have EV chargers available at your business premises.

What next?

AMS Solutions offers Commercial EV Charging solutions to businesses and commercial premises across the North of England. Want more information? Contact our friendly team today to find out more.

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What are the different types of EV chargers?

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