There are currently four basic power levels for charging plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Level 1 charging is the slowest, adding just two to five miles of range per hour but requiring only a standard 120 volt household outlet. Level 2 chargers can add 10 to 20 miles of range in an hour and require a 240 volt circuit like those used for clothes dryers. DC Fast Chargers can deliver 50 to 70 miles of range in just 20 minutes. They are often installed along high-speed routes that make long range travel possible for all-electric vehicles. The Tesla Supercharger is the fastest commonly available charger and can add up to 170 miles of range in just 30 minutes. The Tesla Supercharger network is a national network that only Tesla vehicles can use.
Charging times can vary due to other factors such as temperature, battery design, and the battery’s state of charge. Charging times are nonlinear—the times increase as the level of charge in the battery increases. Once a battery has reached about 80% charge, the charge rate usually slows considerably. The PEVs that are equipped to handle DC Fast Chargers or Tesla Superchargers can also charge at level 1 or level 2 chargers but may require an adaptor. Inductive or “wireless” charging is available as an aftermarket add-on for some PEV models. Wireless charging eliminates the need to plug in as electricity is wirelessly transmitted from a pad on the floor to a receiver in the vehicle at level 2 charging rates.
Current PEV Charging Options and Examples
AC = Alternating Current. DC=Direct Current.
U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, “Developing Infrastructure to Charge Plug-In Electric Vehicles,” website accessed 3/04/2016.
Tesla Motors, “Supercharger,” website accessed 3/04/2016.
Plug-in Cars.Com, “Denver Airport To Install Level 1 120-Volt Charging for Electric Cars,” website accessed 3/08/2016.