Charging an electric vehicle is only as convenient as the charging speed, and charger ‘Levels’ designate that speed.
The ‘level’ of a charger provides a convenient way to determine how fast it is. Each ‘level’ has a minimum speed threshold.
The difference between them is the charging speed. Simply put, level 1 chargers are slow, level 2 chargers are fast, level 3 chargers are rapid and ultra-rapid, and level 4 chargers are megachargers.
At home, you can make use of level 1 and level 2 charging.
Charging with a 3-pin socket adds around 8-miles of range per hour, while charging with a 16A Commando adds around 12.
Level 1 is the slowest way to charge and it has coined the phrase “granny charging” as a result, taking around 22 hours to charge a 60kWh battery.
Level 2 covers a wider power gamut at home, up to 7.4kW with a single-phase power supply and 11kW with a 3-phase power supply.
Level 2 chargers are tethered or untethered, with the maximum power dictated by the circuit.
Some public and workplace chargers are also level 2, but these go up to 22kW on AC. 22kW is the max for a level 2 charger on AC.
Level 2 public chargers with DC power go up to 43kW due to better electrical infrastructure than in homes. Some 50kW chargers are also classed as level 2.
To get 7.4kW or 11kW charge speeds at home, you need a smart home charger. Check out our EV charger reviews for ideas.
Level 3 chargers are much faster.
Level 3 chargers require a direct connection to the grid, so they are only found in public (DC charging stations). These chargers include rapids (60kW to 100kW) and ultra-rapids (up to 350kW).
You can’t get a level 3 charger at home because the power supply at your property is not sufficient. Even with a 3-phase supply, you would be limited to 11kW due to power constraints caused by domestic infrastructure.
Level 3 chargers are found at charging hubs, motorway services and in some car parks. They are expensive to use but add up to 200 miles of range in 30 minutes. The fastest cars charge to 80% in 18 minutes with 800V technology.
Only 1 in 4 public chargers installed last year were rapids, leading to concerns that queues could increase despite infrastructure rollout.
Level 4 chargers deliver over 1 MW of power to charge extremely large battery packs rapidly, like those in electric lorries.
The most notable example is the Tesla Megacharger for the Tesla Semi, which has an incredible output of 1.5 MW. It adds 400 miles of range in 30 minutes to the 500kWh battery, and it may be even faster in the near future
Level 4 chargers will become common at truck stops and delivery depots for lorries and HGVs with enormous battery packs, though they are not commercialised yet.
Electric vehicle chargers are categorised as Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4:
- Level 1: 2.3kW 3-pin, 3.6kW 16A (slow)
- Level 2: 7.4kW single-phase, 11kW 3-phase, 22kW commercial (fast)
- Level 3: 100kW (rapid) to 350kW (ultra-rapid)
- Level 4: 1 MW+ (megachargers, for lorries and large commercial vehicles)
If you’re charging at home, aim for level 2 with a smart home charger. These are our favourite chargers of 2022 so far:
- Indra Smart Pro
- Hypervolt Home 2.0
- Easee One
- Ohme Home Pro
So, there we have it! Charger ‘levels’ are all about how fast they charge, defined by the amount of power (voltage) they output.