Understanding the differences between EV charger types

Charging an EV can be confusing for inexperienced EV drivers. There's a lot of technical jargon and confusing terminology that makes it hard to understand. We'll help you understand the differences between the types of chargers and ports.

Woman using a level 2 wall-mount EV charger

What is an EV charger?

Technically, what most people call "EV chargers" are actually Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). They basically convert the power to a format that the electric vehicle can accept; the charger itself is built into the car. That being said, the most popular term for these units that's seemed to stick is "EV chargers."

What types of EV chargers are there?

EV chargers fall into 3 basic categories; Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

Level 1 ev charger in coil

Level 1 Charger: 120-Volt

A Level 1 EV charger plugs into a standard outlet in your home to juice up your car. Usually, a level one charger can add 2 to 3 miles to your car for each hour they're used. Most electric vehicles in the US will come with a Level 1 charger.

Level 1 ev charger in coil
Level 2 wall-mount EV charger

Level 2 Charger: 240-Volt

A Level 2 EV charger lets you charge up your electric vehicle around five times faster. These chargers use 240V or the type of outlet you see for an electric dryer or stovetop. They add between 12 and 60 miles to your battery each hour.

Level 2 wall-mount EV charger
Level 3 ev charger station

Level 3 Charger: 400-Volts or more

A Level 3 EV charger is the fastest type of EV charger. They're also called fast chargers, DCFC chargers or DC fast chargers. These units typically use 400V or more and add 150 miles to a battery in an hour. They're not very common in residential applications at this point.

Level 3 ev charger station

Different EV charger connectors or plugs

An EV charger is connected to a vehicle by using a connector or plug. In the US, there are basically four main types:

J1772 EV Charger Plug

J1772 Plug

Level 1 and Level 2 Charging

The charging specification has been standardized across the US and Canada, and almost every electric car uses a standardized plug called SAE J1772 for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. The only exception is Tesla that uses a proprietary charging port. Teslas come with an adapter, though, so they can be charged with the more common connector. That means that virtually all residential EV chargers in the US will work with your car.

J1772 EV Charger Plug

J1772 Plug

Level 3 Charging

For Level 3, or fast charging, it gets a little more complicated. These types of chargers aren't typically found in home installations and are instead the fast chargers you'll see at offices, malls, shopping garages, etc. In North America, there are three types of connectors.

CSS EV charger plug

CCS (Combined Charging System)

Most EV cars sold in the US

This connector takes the standard J1772 plug and adds two more pins for high-speed charging. CCS is the most common connector in North America, and almost all North American automakers have agreed to use it.

CHAdeMO EV charger plug

CHAdeMO

Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

This connector was developed in Japan and is popular there, but in the US, only the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV use the CHAdeMO connector.

Tesla EV charger plug

Tesla

All Tesla vehicles sold in the US

Tesla uses the same Type 2 connector for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging. Teslas can use the included adapter to get a Level 1 or Level 2 charge from a standard port, but not a Level 3. Only Tesla's can connect to the Tesla Supercharger network..

Get rebates for installing an EV charger

To help offset the cost of installing an EV charger, a variety of rebates, incentives and grants are available across the US. Use the tool below to find out if you might qualify for any incentives for an EV Charger in your home.

Find Rebates for EV Chargers

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Rebates4EVChargers helps you find rebates, incentives, grants, and tax credits for installing a charger for your electric vehicle.

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