Site characteristics, budget, and expected usage patterns are all things to consider when deciding on the best electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) for your plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). Expected usage patterns should be one of the top priorities on your list when deciding on equipment. Match your charging speed to your expected needs. If you are traveling low mileage and/or parking for long durations, then Level-1 charging is sufficient. If your parking durations are going to be one to four hours and/or you are driving higher mileage, Level-2 charging would be more beneficial. For very short parking durations and high expected mileage, DC-fast charging would be most valuable.
Below is a chart and description of the different types of charging equipment to help you determine what works best for you.
The least expensive charging option is Level-1 EVSE. This is due to the use of 120-volt outlets which are readily available and the portable/modular equipment that comes standard with PEVs. Level-1 EVSE can fully charge the battery of your PEV in about eight hours. Simply plug your car into a standard electrical outlet (NEMA 5-15R or 20R), using the portable Level-1 EVSE cord that comes with your car.
Level-2 EVSE is for PEV drivers who typically require a quicker charge or fill up. Level-2 charging is two to four times faster (or more) than Level-1. Level-2 EVSE are often used for public venues like shopping centers, restaurants, and theaters, where people are usually parked for shorter durations. At public venues there may be policies, such as charging fees based on time connected or valet services that encourage vehicle turnover. This will ensure users won’t stay plugged in longer than necessary.
If your PEV is capable of DC-fast charge, it can refuel 80 percent in 30 minutes or less. This is a practical option along highways. It enables plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs) to maximize their range and minimize gasoline consumption. DC-fast charging is also an optimal choice in high-traffic locations and well traveled roads. These have a high installation cost and ongoing electrical demand charges, so locations should be chosen wisely.
Equipment Features and Options
EVSEs come with a number of features and options depending on your needs and requirements.
Modular vs. Hardwired
Level-1 and Level-2 options:
Modular or portable charging equipment – These are plugged into a 120v outlet designated for charging. Most PEVs come with a portable Level-1 EVSE.
Permanent or hardwired units – These units are attached to your home or business electrical system. Typically, these cost more and are available with more advanced features.
Dual and Quad-Units
A way to save on costs for equipment, mounting, and installation is to use dual or quad-unit EVSEs that can charge up to four PEVs at once. They can even charge at different levels.
The cord for your EVSE should be stored away when not in use. Most installed units have a hook or bracket to hang or wrap the cord. Some models have retractable or suspended cords available.
Network Communications – Smart Charging Equipment
Smart or networked EVSE can have more advanced features such as:
- Customizable displays
- Notifications and reports to site operators
- Remote software upgrades
- Two-way communications with utility
- Charging status notifications
- User reservation services
- Fee collection and user authorization
- Advertising and marketing displays
Some EVSE have lighted display screens which are a great feature in places where parking lot or garage lighting is not optimal.
Another option offered on some charging stations is a reclosure circuit that automatically restarts after a power interruption.