Are Level 2 chargers the best charging option for your EV?

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Level 2 charger plugged into car
Choosing the right charging station is essential to get the most out of your EV. Image source: GMP

If you’re looking at purchasing an EV, or you already own one, a main concern will be deciding what type of home charging station you will need. Deciding whether to use a Level 1 or Level 2 EV charger, can play a big part in your EV's performance. That’s why understanding the capabilities and components of the different chargers is essential to ensuring that you can keep your car adequately charged.

In this guide, we will take a look at the most important aspects of both Level 1 and Level 2 chargers. We will then answer the question: which charging option, a Level 1 or Level 2 charger, is the best way to charge your EV at home?

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    What at-home EV charging options are there?

    In your search for a home EV charging solution, there are two options that you’re likely to come across. Each of these options will have different capabilities such as different charge rates, as well as a different cost. These can be categorized as Level 1 (trickle chargers) and Level 2 (AC fast chargers).

    We’re going to be taking a look at the two levels of home electric vehicle charging stations and assess their capabilities, prices, and how you can use each station to power your EV.

    Level 1 charger

    Lectron Level 1 charger

    Lectron’s 110V 16 Amp charger is one of the best-selling Level 1 EV chargers. Image source: Lectron

    A Level 1 electric vehicle (EV) charger or otherwise known as an AC trickle charger, is the most basic and slowest method of charging. 

    A Level 1 charger plugs directly into a 120-volt AC outlet, i.e. a standard household outlet. The charger consists of a common household plug on one end of the charging cable, and a connector to plug into the vehicle on the other. This means that the chargers are easily transportable and require no installation

    A Level 1 charger will offer approximately 2.0kW of charging power. This is why a Level 1 charger holds the lowest charging status out of the two home charging stations. This power output means that using a Level 1 charger to gain a full charge on your EV can take days, not hours. For example, an hour of Level 1 charging will provide approximately 3 miles of range for a Tesla.

    Level 1 charger cost

    In most cases, Level 1 chargers come standard with the purchase of a new electric vehicle. This means that the only cost you will incur with a Level 1 charger is the cost of electricity wherever you charge your EV. Depending on your electricity costs in your area, a full night’s charge can cost anywhere between $1.20 and $13.00.

    However, if for some reason you need to go out and buy a Level 1 charger, then they are available on sites such as Amazon for as low as $150. They can be plugged into a stand 120-volt outlet. 

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    Level 2 charger

    Enel Juicebox Level 2 charger

    A popular Level 2 charger, the ENERGY STAR-certified Enel X Juicebox. The Juicebox uses Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and can be controlled by a specialized mobile app to give you insights and updates. Image source: Enel X

    A Level 2 charger (also known as an AC fast charger) is one of the most popular and cost-effective EV chargers on the market. A Level 2 EV charger consists of a hardwired unit that is usually mounted to a wall for easy use. The charging unit also possesses up to 240 volts and requires a 40 amp circuit. With this, a Level 2 charger has a potential output of anywhere from 3 kW to 19kW of AC power. This means that an AC fast charger will take 8 hours or less to fully charge your EV.

    A Level 2 charger is not transportable but can be found in many locations, including supermarkets, malls, and hotels. Many EV owners across the country have also decided to purchase and install an AC fast charger at their home for a more convenient and faster-charging solution, especially if chargers are few and far between in your area.

    Level 2 charger cost

    If you were to use a public Level 2 charger then you should expect to pay between $0.20 and $0.25 per kWh. However, installing a Level 2 fast charger at your home means that you won’t need to visit a commercial or public charging station while you’re on your daily commute. 

    But what will a Level 2 charger cost you?

    The total cost for a high-quality AC fast charger and its installation costs range between $800 and $2000. This includes both the cost of the equipment plus the cost for a professional installation. 

    Level 2 charger equipment cost

    Two of the best home Level 2 chargers on the market are the Enel X JuiceBox 40 and the ChargePoint Home Flex. The Enel X JuiceBox 40 will cost you between $599 to $659, whereas the ChargePoint Home Flex retails for $699

    Tesla also provides their own Level 2 charger, the Wall Connector, which retails for $550. Tesla promotes this as the most dynamic home charging system and recommends the Wall Connector as their best home charging station for Tesla vehicles. 

    Level 2 charger installation cost

    As a Level 2 charging station requires a 240 volt outlet - as opposed to a standard wall outlet, which only provides 120 volts - installing one can be difficult to do yourself. Therefore, we would recommend that you hire a trained professional or licensed electrician to install the Level 2 charging unit for you. The cost to install a Level 2 charger is around $400 to $1,200, depending on the installation’s complexity.

    Do all EVs use the same connector?

    The majority of Level 1 and 2 chargers will be using a connector called the SAE J1772 connector. Excluding Tesla vehicles, all other EVs are able to use this plug. However, Tesla does sell an adapter that allows for them to be charged using the standard plug.

    Rebates and incentives for EV chargers

    There are a number of state and federal tax incentives and rebates available that make purchasing and installing an EV charging station even more affordable. The largest of these incentives is the federal tax credit, which gives you 30% back from a home charging station plus installation costs (up to $1,000).

    Many states and utilities also provide rebates and incentives for home EV charger installation. For example, PSEG Long Island offers up to a $500 rebate for purchasing and installing a Level 2 charging station.

    What is the best charging option for your EV?

    Both levels of EV charging have their purpose and can be vital for EV drivers. A Level 1 charger provides a simple, low-cost solution but can take days to charge your battery. A Level 2 charger requires a small investment for a home charging system, but allows you to fully charge your battery overnight.

    So, what is the best charging option for your EV?

    Well, it’s tough to look past the attributes of Level 2 chargers. With the ability to have it installed at your home and provide a charge time of under 8 hours, a Level 2 charger is a must-have for most EV owners.

    With affordable Level 2 options, impressive rebates, incentives, and low cost per kWh, an at-home EV charger is also a possible solution even if you’re on a budget.

    Powering your EV charger with solar

    If you’re wondering whether or not you can charge your EV with solar power, the answer is yes. Your EV charger is no different from any other appliance in your home and can be powered by solar power just the same. This means that you have the potential to save even more with your EV.

    In the majority of states in the USA, the price of solar panels is less than buying electricity from the grid. Solar power will also mean that you don’t have to worry about rising electricity prices.

    For a fast and easy way to find out how much you can save with solar panels, visit our expert solar calculator.

    Learn more: How and why to use solar panels to charge an electric car

    Find out how much solar panels can help you save on your electric bill

    Key takeaways

    • EV stations are categorized into three different levels, with each level having a different charging ability as well as a different cost.
    • To purchase and install a Level 2 charger costs between $800 and $2,000.
    • For most EV owners, a Level 2 charging station will be the most useful and cost-effective charger.
    • Using solar power to charge your EV is a great way to increase your energy savings.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Cameron Bates

    Blog Author

    Cameron is a business analyst and content specialist at SolarReviews.

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