Level 2 charging is often sufficient and much more cost effective than DCFC

Direct Current Fast Charging, or DCFC for short, is typically what most people think of when discussing electric vehicle (EV) charging. Tesla made their brand of DCFC, the Supercharger, famous by its stylish looks and quick charging capabilities. Today, most DCFC can charge an EV from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes. This is enough time to use the restroom, stretch the legs, or grab a bite to eat while on a long road trip.

However, DCFC are not always the best charging solution. In fact, there are two other levels of charging. With planning and installing EV charging stations, it very much depends on the location and dwell time of the EV to determine which is the best charging solution.

What’s the Difference Between Level 1, Level 2, and DCFC?

There are three levels of charging: Level 1, Level 2, and DCFC (sometimes called Level 3). Each subsequent level of charging provides more range per unit of time.

For example, Level 1 charging provides around 4 miles of range per hour of charging. This is done using a typical household 120V outlet. As a result, Level 1 charging is often referred to as “trickle charging” and is usually not the preferred way to charge.

Level 2 charging provides around 25 miles of range per hour of charging. This is done using a 240V or 208V outlet such as one used by an electric dryer. Unlike Level 1 charging, Level 2 charging is how most EV drivers prefer to charge daily.

Lastly, DCFC provides around 200 miles of range in just 30 minutes of charging. This is done using 400V or 800V utility connections, which is typically only found at public EV charging stations.

What Is the Cost Difference Between Level 2 Charging and DCFC?

Level 2 charging is very cost effective and easily deployable since 240V or 208V outlets are common in homes, workplacesapartments, or any commercial buildings. As a result, installing a Level 2 charging station costs around $4,000 per connector, per International Council of Clean Transportation (ICCT). State and federal incentives often cover most or all of the installation costs. In many cases, no electrical upgrades are required at the installation site. This helps keep the cost down and allow for more chargers to be installed.

DCFC, however, takes a lot of resources to be installed. Not only do they require a separate service from the electric utility company, but they also cost significantly more than Level 2 charging stations. Per ICCT, the cost to deploy DCFC starts around $45,000 and can reach as high as $150,000 per connector. There are several factors that play a role in the installation cost such as equipment and materials, utility interconnection, and proximity to the utility service.

As you can see, DCFC is far more expensive than Level 2 charging. This is partly why there are more Level 2 charging stations than DCFC stations. In fact, per the Alternative Fuel Data Center, there are over 90,000 public Level 2 charging stations whereas there are only 21,000 DCFC in the United States. These numbers do not account for any private chargers, such as Tesla Superchargers or those with closed access. That being said, there are plenty of use cases for both Level 2 and DCFC stations.

What Is the Best Use Case for Level 2 Charging Stations?

Level 2 charging stations are best suited for residential (including single-family, apartments, and condos), workplaces, and commercial properties (such as retail, gyms, movie theaters, or grocery stores). These locations are a great choice for Level 2 charging stations since the dwell time aligns with the charging time. In other words, the duration the vehicle is typically parked at these locations conveniently matches the amount of time it takes to charge.

What Is the Best Use Case for DCFC Stations?

On the other hand, DCFC is primarily suitable for use cases such as highway rest stops, rural communities, and urban centers. DCFC is the preferred charging solution because the dwell time at these locations is limited to no more than 30 minutes.

It is best practice to install Level 2 charging stations when the dwell time is more than 30 minutes because they are much more cost effective. For example, for the cost of one DCFC station you can install seven Level 2 charging stations. In addition, more connectors mean more EV drivers can plug in to charge. For stations at apartment complexes or workplaces, providing charging stations is an amenity that is being increasingly desired. Therefore, it is recommended to provide a charging solution that not only meets the needs of the EV drivers, but also can accommodate more EVs in the future.

SemaConnect offers both Level 2 and DCFC. As a complete EV support partner, SemaConnect is making transportation electrification possible in this decade through innovative, elegantly designed charging stations, a robust and open network platform, and an unparalleled charging experience for drivers and station owners. Ready to get started? Request a quote today!