Charging 101

There is a lot of confusion surrounding EV charging. Few developers, building managers, architects, contractors and even electricians understand the various EV chargers available in the market today and what they do. My goal is to provide an understanding of each charging designation and where each is best suited.

The most basic charging is level one. Level one charging is basically a receptacle (plug) with 110 volts of electric output similar to what you would plug your vacuum into. The associated amperage is anywhere from 10 to 20. 110 volt receptacles are the standard for home, multifamily and commercial garages. These receptacles are commonly used for home devices, and general garage maintenance, but are now frequently used for EV charging. Level one charging is also called “trickle” charging because of its slow rate of charge.

Level one charging can supply from 2 to 8 miles of charge per hour. Level one works great when your commute is short. Since the average daily driving is 30 miles, level one may be all that is needed. Currently you will find many EV owners charging at level one in homes, condo and apartment buildings. The level one solution is short lived as more electric vehicles fill up garages.

Level two is the next designation and signifies charging at 240 volts (same as the hook up for your dryer) and amperages between 20 and 80. Level two charging is the next step for home charging and typically provide 20 to 40 miles per hour of charge. Level two charging at home does not require a charger. You can simply use the power cord that your vehicle comes with. A charger is just a convenience so that you don’t have to plug into a receptacle. It will cost you between $250 and $700.

Level two charging gets more complicated. The power draw for a level two charger is significantly more. Single family homes and most buildings come with a limited supply of electric capacity. The good news is that many buildings have benefited from energy savings measures such as window retrofits and insulation upgrades. The increased electric capacity can now be accessed for car charging, giving many buildings the ability to provide charging in every parking stall.

A charger for each parking stall is a must for condominiums. According to condominium law each resident is entitled to equal access to both charging and to the electric capacity of the building. Condominiums will benefit the most from energy upgrades and electric management software to share that capacity equally. Apartment buildings will benefit from energy upgrades and electric management software where charging in every parking stall will maximize potential revenue. Commercial properties will benefit much less from energy upgrades or electric capacity software because both business needs and EV charging occur at the same time of day when electrical use is at its peak.

Many businesses have installed level two charging for employees. This was a first step to provide employees living in multifamily properties access to charging. The drawback to work charging is the lack of scheduling. When demand is high employees are constantly looking out of the window to race for an open charging spot. Business charging is merely a short term fix and will never be enough to fill the gap currently experienced at multifamily properties.

Level 3 charging is usually not an option for multifamily dwellers because of higher voltage requirements. This is more suited for long non-local road trips. Level 3 chargers can fill a battery in a much shorter time, ranging from 50 miles per hour to 700 miles per hour. The fill rate is determined by the level of the battery upon commencement of the charging session (the lower the battery the faster the rate), the size of the battery, the age of the battery and the kilowatt capacity of the charger. Level 3 charging will never be the gas station option that many think it will. The reasons are that the charging costs more $0.30 to $0.60 per KwH (compared to $0.10 to 0.30 for level one and two) and the inconvenience of waiting for 15 minutes to an hour for your battery to fill.

Ultimately consumers will want the cheapest and easiest charging solution possible. For most that will be level 2 charging at home and level three on long trips. As battery packs get more energy dense the frequency of charging will decline, but that will primarily only reduce charging sessions at level three chargers.

Let us help you find the optimal charging solution for your building based on its electric capacity and the long-term needs of its occupants and customers. For more information please visit our website at

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