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What is a Level 3 charger for electric vehicles: Charge Your EV at Warp Speed

July 4, 2023

Refueling is never an exciting experience, except for your first trip to the gas station with your new car. However, for EV owners who are used to charging their batteries at home or in parking lots, a Level 3 charger’s speed could make them feel that excitement again. But what is a Level 3 charger, and how does it compare to other EV charging stations?

Level 3 chargers, also known as DC fast chargers, can charge an EV battery in as little as 15 minutes, which is significantly faster than Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.

Businesses that want to attract EV drivers to their facilities should consider adding a Level 3 charger. This could be especially beneficial for businesses located near highways and thoroughfares. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that installing a Level 3 charger can be costly and requires the appropriate electrical infrastructure.

For individuals who want to minimize the downtime between their EV road trips, using a Level 3 charger could be a great option. However, it’s important to note that installing a Level 3 charger at home is not practical or cost-effective for most people. Additionally, not all EV models can handle the high electric current output by Level 3 chargers, so it’s essential to check your vehicle’s specifications before using one.

What is a Level 3 charger

What is a Level 3 charger?

A Level 3 charger is an intelligent apparatus to charge the batteries of supported electric vehicles at a speed that far outpaces other charger classes. However, unlike Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, Level 3 chargers are not standardized. Instead, there are several different types of connectors that Level 3 chargers may use.

The proprietary Tesla plug is one of the types of connectors on Level 3 chargers. In addition, some Asian automotive manufacturers use CHAdeMO plugs, while others use Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs, which are also part of the J Plug standard. This lack of standardization is reflected in the different trade names used for Level 3 chargers. Depending on the manufacturer, a Level 3 EV charging station might be called a Tesla Supercharger or a DC Fast Charger, among other names.

Despite the lack of standardization, the most important distinction between Level 3 charging and other charging levels is the speed at which it charges an EV. This difference comes down to current and kilowatts. Level 3 chargers output a higher current and more kilowatts than Level 1 and Level 2 chargers. This allows Level 3 chargers to charge an EV battery in as little as 15 minutes, compared to several hours required by Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.

However, it’s important to note that not all EV models can handle the high electric current output by Level 3 chargers. Before using a Level 3 charger, it’s crucial to check your vehicle’s specifications to ensure that it can handle the high current output.

How many kW is a Level 3 charger?

A Level 3 charger’s output ranges from 50kw to 350kw, allowing it to deliver up to 20 miles worth of range per minute to an electric vehicle (EV). This level of speed is possible because a Level 3 charger transfers a large amount of electricity quickly and does so in a form that can be more easily stored by the EV.

Electricity is transmitted across the power grid with an alternating current, but most batteries, including those in EVs, use a direct current. This means that the electricity’s current must be converted before it can be used to recharge the battery. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers rely on an EV’s built-in converter to handle this task, but Level 3 chargers convert the electricity from AC to DC internally. This allows Level 3 chargers to directly feed the current to the EV at a much greater rate than the vehicle’s built-in converter can handle.

The speed of a Level 3 charging station is a potent asset for owners and drivers alike when managed correctly. Level 3 chargers can significantly reduce the downtime between EV road trips, making them ideal for businesses located near highways and thoroughfares. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that managing a Level 3 charging destination requires the right software.

If you’re considering outfitting a charging destination with Level 3 chargers, it’s crucial to ensure that you have the appropriate software to manage it. The right software will allow you to monitor the charging station’s status, track usage, and manage payments. With the right software in place, a Level 3 charging station can be a valuable asset for your business and a convenience for EV drivers.

How much does a Level 3 charger cost to install and operate?

Level 3 EV chargers don’t come cheap. In fact, the cost to install and operate one is quite steep. Consider these factors when estimating the cost:

First, the price of the charger itself. DCFC hardware can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars per unit, and some level 3 manufacturers have minimum order sizes that can exceed $1M USD.

Second, the price of installation. The installation cost will vary depending on the location’s current electrical setup. If your existing setup doesn’t provide the required voltage, you may need to upgrade, which could be expensive. You can find DCFC installers in your area on this page.

Lastly, the price of electricity. You’ll have to pay for power throughout the operational lifespan of the charger. Keep in mind that this figure often fluctuates depending on the time of day and season. To optimize energy efficiency, consider using a software provider that offers smart power management.

All of these expenses add up, and you should expect at least a five-figure cost to install the first of your Level 3 EV charging stations. However, you can maximize returns on this investment by prioritizing high-traffic locations, such as sites near major highway exits or other busy thoroughfares. By doing so, you’ll increase the likelihood of people using your charging station, making the expense worth it in the long run.

What is Level 3 charging like compared to the alternatives?

Compared to Level 1 EV charging stations

Level 1 charging stations, also known as portable charger cables, are typically on the purchase of an EV. However, it could take several days to fully charge a typical EV battery using a Level 1 charger.

Despite their slower charging speeds, Level 1 chargers have a significant advantage: You can plug them into any standard 120V outlet. This convenience, combined with the lack of installation costs, makes them a viable option for short-distance or infrequent commuters.

Additionally, Level 1 chargers can be a great backup option when Level 2 or Level 3 chargers aren’t available. You can easily carry them with you in the car, ensuring that you always have a charging option when you need it.

While Level 1 chargers may not be the fastest or most efficient charging option, they’re a practical solution for those who don’t need to travel long distances on a regular basis.

Compared to Level 2 EV charging stations

Level 2 chargers are a step up from Level 1 chargers, delivering between 3kW to just under 20kW of AC power to EVs. This translates to roughly 30 to 50 kilometers (20 to 30 miles) of range per hour of charging, which is significantly faster than Level 1 chargers. While still slower than Level 3 chargers, Level 2 chargers can fully charge an EV battery if left plugged in overnight or for a few hours while the driver runs errands.

One of the most significant advantages of Level 2 chargers is that they can use standard 240V outlets. They are the same outlets for large electrical appliances like clothes dryers. This makes them much more affordable to install than Level 3 chargers, which require specialized equipment and a higher voltage power supply.

If you’re in the market for EV charging software, Getevgas offers a powerful and secure solution that’s fully compatible with leading hardware. Whether you’re running a large fleet of chargers from different manufacturers, starting your own charging business, or setting up your first location, Getevgas’s intuitive platform can help you manage it all. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you join the ranks of industry leaders.

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