By Andy Seepersaud
Over 80% of charging for an electric vehicle takes place at a home, and typically this is where the most dwelling time occurs combined with the ease of overnight charging when most vehicles remain idle. While overnight charging provides a large window of time to recharge, this may not be sufficient time to deliver a full battery charge, as such EV owners should strongly consider a Level 2 EV charging station as the optimal choice to re-charge.
What is Level 2 charging and why is it important?
Most new EV models come equipped with a Level 1 charger, which can be connected to any standard 120V wall outlet. This choice adds 2 to 5 miles of range per hour on average and is the slowest option for charging. Level 2 charging stations use a 208 or 240 V connection. This higher voltage allows a larger energy delivery directly from the electrical panel that can add an average of 15 to 30 miles (depending on vehicle model) of added range per hour. This provides an advantage to drivers who want to recharge their EV in shorter time intervals, which on average saves over 15 hours of wait time compared to a Level 1 EV charging station to achieve a full battery.
Indoor or outdoor?
Consumers should also consider whether they plan to place their charger indoors or outdoors. If choosing outdoor placement, they will want to ensure the charger is weatherproof and can operate in temperatures appropriate to their climate, as some chargers may not operate effectively under extreme heat or cold conditions. Some chargers available in the North American market are capable of withstanding temperature ranges from -40° F to 122° F. When placing a charger outside, EV drivers must also consider whether the charging cable will remain flexible during extreme temperatures, allowing them to extend it to their vehicle without breaks or failures.
The role of smart features
Smart features allow a user to stay connected to their charger through their mobile device or desktop. These features will usually enable the user to view their activity, usage history, and the status of a charging session from a user portal. Smart chargers also enable the possibility of scheduling features, which help to take advantage of your local utility’s off-peak energy savings programs, as well as receiving new software & firmware updates to ensure compatibility to new EV models.
A non-smart charger or “dummy” Level 2 charger does not offer any of the above features, though it will still be able to deliver a faster charge in comparison to their Level 1 counterparts. Users may be potentially locked out of new software & firmware updates which may prevent compatibility to new EV models, which may force some to re-invest in a new charger in the future.
A charger case designed with more durable materials can have better resistance to potential impacts, and resist wear-down over time, which helps to prevent charging disruptions or breakage. Some use plastic, glass faceplates, or aluminum. In particular when looking at outdoor installations, EV drivers should look for chargers that are resistant to water, heat, ice, and corrosion.
The connector quality is an important consideration as well, as it needs to endure heavy electrical transfers which can wear over time and affect the quality of the charge and connection to the vehicle. High quality connectors are designed to last over 10 years and/or 10,000 charging cycles.
EV charging stations are a long-term asset, and EV drivers should keep this in mind when shopping for their station. Besides the purchase cost, consideration towards installation costs, rebate eligibility, and maintenance over the years is vital. Depending on the design and build of the charger, as well as the amperage required, will determine the electrical contractor cost of installation.
Depending on the space available in a residence’s electrical panel, upgrades may be needed which can significantly increase installation costs. As most EV drivers can fully recharge their vehicle in 6-8 hours with a 30A charger, they may not have the need for a higher output — to install a 30A charger, a dedicated 40A dedicated breaker is recommended. Lastly, drivers should consider where the charger will be placed, and the distance to the electrical panel: the further away from the panel, the higher will be the installation costs.
This article is supported by FLO.