The short answer is no; not all electric cars use the same charger, but most cars in North America do use the same standard charger (with Tesla as an exception - they have their own chargers). EV charging universality is becoming more standard as time goes on because electric vehicles are rapidly growing in popularity. As more people make the switch from gasoline cars to EVs, it’s important for new buyers to understand what is needed to know about charging their new vehicle. Unlike gas cars, powering an EV engine is a bit more complex than just stopping at any nearest station. EV drivers must know whether their car is compatible with the charger they plan to use because there are three different types of chargers: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, and two different types of plugs: type 1 and type 2. This outline will explore these three types of chargers and two types of plugs, along with the types of electric vehicles and the charger compatibilities of each.
What are the Types of Electric Cars?
There are 3 basic categories of electric vehicles. Battery Electric Vehicles, or BEVs, are also known as all-electric vehicles and are powered solely by an electric motor. These vehicles have no internal combustion engine and need to be plugged into an external power source to recharge their battery pack. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or PHEVs, combine the features of electric vehicles and traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. It is able to be recharged by an external power source and also filled with gas. Because it has a gas engine and also a battery pack, it is able to operate in electric-only mode for short distances and with its gas engine for longer distances, as a means of optimizing the car’s efficiency. The final type of electric vehicle is Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Although very similar to PHEVs, this EV is not able to be plugged in for recharge. The electric motor in an HEV assists the internal combustion engine, improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. HEVs are self-charging and automatically switch between engine types to optimize efficiency.
Different Types of Charging Systems for Electric Cars
The three types of EV charging stations - Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 - all differ in terms of charging speeds and power output. Level 1 chargers are the most basic and are commonly found in personal residential spaces since they use a standard 120-volt household outlet. However, they are the slowest chargers and provide a rate of around 2 to 5 miles of range per hour. Level 2 chargers utilize a 240-volt outlet, providing around 10 to 30 miles of range per hour. These chargers are suitable for residential use but are mainly found in public and commercial spaces. Finally, Level 3 chargers, also known as DC fast chargers, are primarily found in public or fleet locations. These high-powered charging stations use Direct Current (DC) and provide around 80 to 200 miles of range in a quick span of 30 minutes. Many standard electric vehicles are not compatible with Fast Chargers, so they are rare in public spaces, but adapters and conversion cables are available.
Electric Car Charger Compatibility
There are two types of plugs for non-DC chargers: type 1 and type 2. In North America, type 1 is the most common plug, while type 2 is the standard in Europe. The charging speeds and power outputs are comparable between these two types of plugs since it is the Level of the charger, not the plug type, that determines power output. Depending on the exact type of vehicle and station used, on average, it costs between $.10 and $.20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to charge an electric car. If drivers are in a new country or come to a charging station whose charging level is not supported by their EV, there are adapters available either for purchase or for free use at many public charging stations. Read more about the cost of electric car installation here.
EV charging infrastructure consists of both public and private charging stations. Public charging stations are typically found in places like parking lots, shopping centers, and along highways. They often require payment since they provide convenience and quick charging for anyone with an Electric Vehicle. Private EV charging stations are found at residences, private workplaces, or private parking areas. These are only for use by people with access to private residences or property. However, over the years, there has been rapid growth in both public and private availability of EV charging stations. It is also important to note that while it is not possible to charge while driving, it is highly likely to find available stations on any road trip or commute.
Not all EVs use the same charger, but there are only two AC types of chargers that non-Tesla EV owners need to worry about. Almost all Electric Vehicle charging occurs at either public or private charging stations, typically using type 2 chargers but often using type 1 if at a residential property. As mentioned in the introduction, there are continuous efforts to universalize all-electric vehicle charging, but we are not quite there yet. It is still important for owners to know whether they will need adapters if they are to use the charging stations on their driving route, but if their EV uses a type 2 plug, then they should not worry. With the increasing availability of EV chargers in cities and towns across the country and world, it is easier to own an EV than it ever has been. When making a purchase of an electric vehicle, it is important to research the exact charging specifications and requirements of the vehicle of choice. Check out all the information of our commercial EV charging stations and see our locations: