Level 1 Charging:
You are thinking of buying an electric car or have just purchased one. You are going to hear a lot about different “Levels” of charging so we thought to give you an overview on how to approach this. What are different types of Levels? How long does it to take to charge my car? Do they work with all cars? This is what we hope to tackle for you. This article is going to answer “What is Level 1 Charging for an EV?”
See our other posts on what are Level 2 Charging and Fast Charging
What is Level 1 Charging for an EV?
From an electrical standpoint, Level 1 just means plugging into your typical outlet that you may find in your home or even out on the road (get permission before plugging into a public outlet! Otherwise, stealing that power may get you arrested like this guy!) Your typical standard outlet is usually 16 AMPs at 110 or 120 volts. That’s typical putting out ~0.96kWh.
How long will it take to charge my car?
This is a really common question- how long until my car goes from empty to fully charged? The answer is this really depends on the size of your battery. Think of it this way: With a gas tank in your gasoline powered car, if I would ask you, “How much gas do I need for a full tank on a gas car?” you would say, the bigger the tank, the more gallons, and in turn fuel, it could hold. In other words, different cars have different size fuel tanks.
With electric cars, think of the battery as your fuel tank. Different cars have different size batteries. The 2017 Chevy Volt, which is a plugin hybrid, has an 18.4 kWh size battery that on pure electric could take you about 53 miles before the gas kicks in. The 2017 Chevy Bolt, which is a pure electric car, has a 60 kWh battery that can take you 238 miles. And, as of a new announcement a few months ago, the Tesla Model S Sedan and Model X SUV now have an option to be bought with a whopping 100 kWh battery pack which give them a range of ~380 miles. You can check out the battery sizes and the range of all electric cars here.
So how long will it take to charge a car on Level 1? If you’re getting ~0.96kW from a wall outlet an hour, and your battery is like the 2017 Chevy Bolt, the Bolt will take about 57 hours to fully charge from empty on a Level 1. That sounds pretty bad, right? It’s really not. Remember, most often, you are not going to be charging a completely empty battery. Charging your car is more like charging a phone, you top it off when you get home. If you’re driving about 40 miles a day, which is what your American driver typically does, to get that range back on a Level 1 Charger would take about 10-11 hours So pretty much, when driving 40-50 miles a day, an overnight charge could top off your car and you would be leaving your house every morning with a full tank (one of the best parts of having an electric car!).
Want to know how much you drive a day? Take a look at our range calculator use the tool here under the “Daily Roundtrip” section.
In addition, some cars can accept more electricity at a faster rate than the others. We’ll get to this a bit more in our next post on Level 2 Charging.
How do I actually plug my car to a regular outlet?
Every car you buy will come with a portable charger. It looks something like this:
You can simply plug that into the outlet. If you want to look into a backup one, check out some of the ones we have here
For Tesla drivers, there is a cord that comes with your car, a Universal Mobile Connector (UMC). You would need to plug into the other side of your UMC an adapter that will go in your regular wall outlet. Check out a video Tesla put out here for how that works.
If you’re planning on plugging into a regular wall outlet in a garage that you really haven’t used before, our Director of Content at EVSpace, Tom Moloughney, has some good advice:
“Have an electrician inspect the outlet and circuit you’ll be plugging the 120v EVSE into. Often, especially on older homes, outlets in the garage don’t get much use and can be exposed to humidity, dust and other contaminants. The connections may be loose from years of use, and aren’t ready to be used for many hours every day now under a high load. In most cases the electrician will just inspect it and tighten the connections. It’s only a couple dollars for a new receptacle so you might as well ask them to replace it while they are there. That way you know it’s new and ready for the task of daily charging”
When should I use a Level 1 Charger?
Most often, Level 1 Charging is done at home with a regular outlet. Sometimes, in a parking garage or at your work place, there may be an outdoor outlet that you can use, but make sure to ask before using it. Building owners and management don’t like the surprise of finding out that someone has been taking electricity from them.
Should I only rely on a Level 1 at home?
This is a solid question so we have dedicated a whole series of articles by our Director of Content Tom Moloughney on how to approach home charging and whether Level 1 suffices. Take a look at that article here.
See our other posts on Level 2 Charging and Fast Charging
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