What Do Levels Mean On Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

One of the most interesting requests many electricians get is to install an electric vehicle charging station in the homes of EV owners, and as the number of those owners increases, so too will the demand for installations by people with relevant training.

Given the concerns about range anxiety, something not helped by the owner of one of the UK’s largest charging station networks firing every single member of its flagship division, owners of electric cars will want to ensure that they have a reliable, fast charging station close to them.

Whilst the cars can technically be plugged into the mains, the better option is to fit a dedicated fast charging station that would charge the EV a lot faster but would need a trained professional to install it in an appropriate location near where the car is likely to be parked.

There are three different levels of charger, either described with numbers or adjectives. Because this can be quite confusing, here are the three levels and what they mean.

Level 1 – Low

Technically not a separate level by themselves, these are the most basic standard charging points and ones that are by far the most compatible with the most cars and most electrical sockets.

They are often the cable the car comes with, with an adaptor to allow it to plug into a UK standard 13A socket with a power rating of under 3kW.

This equates to around ten miles of range per hour of charging, meaning that you will often need to charge the car overnight in order to get even close to its maximum range.

What makes this somewhat more problematic is that cars have pretty intensive power requirements, ones that UK plug sockets are not really designed for.

However, it does mean that in a contingency situation, as long as an EV is close enough to someone’s home, workplace or garage, they can get enough electricity to get them to a proper charging station.

Level 2 – Standard

By far the most common kind of EV charger you will likely be tasked to install at an owner’s home, a standard charger (sometimes known as a level 2 charger) usually is rated to deliver up to 8kW of power, which typically boosts the charging speed threefold.

Theoretically, they can go a lot faster, with the Type 2 EV charging cables typically used with them able to charge at up to 50kW (although this figure varies wildly depending on the model).

This means that a standard charger can provide around 25-30 miles of charge per hour, although this figure can increase dramatically with faster chargers.

Level 2 – Fast

Confusingly, the level system combined both standard and fast, primarily based on the Type 2 connector used, but any charging station between 8kW and 50kW is usually called a fast charger.

Beyond the lower sum is generally beyond the capabilities of household wiring without extensive work, but they are the types of chargers found in shopping centres, gyms and other car parks where the car is expected to stay for over two hours.

Level 3 – Rapid

Generally between 50kW and 350kW, rapid chargers are much faster and will typically only be installed at dedicated fast charging stations.