How to Charge Any EV, and Different Types of EV Charging Stations

Up until electric vehicles came along, drivers were dependent on visiting a gas station when their tank was low, and over many years, they became used heading to the pump whenever they needed to fuel up. But EV owner surveys overwhelmingly show that the vast majority of EV owners recharge their vehicles overnight while parked in their garages, in their driveways, or sometimes on nearby streets. This means that many owners only need to rely on public charging stations on longer trips and heavier driving days, or during the winter.

Picture of a charging cable plugged into All Electric car in a EV charging station

L1 Charging

So, when considering the many ways to charge your EV, it makes sense to start with the different at-home charging options. Having a garage or a driveway to park your EV in overnight is ideal, and any plug-in vehicle can be charged with a regular three-prong outlet using the 110‑volt charge cord that usually comes with the vehicle. This is known as Level 1 (L1) charging. Some electrical codes are starting to recommend or require a more robust GFCI outlet–especially if mounted outdoors–for plugging in EV charge cords (also called EVSEs, for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment).

But there’s a reason that this L1 charging is also known as trickle charging: it’s the slowest way to charge an EV. Sometimes it’s painfully slow, meaning it can take over 24 hours to fully charge an all-electric vehicle from near empty. One hour plugged in will deliver roughly 8 km of driving range, making this type of charging best-suited for plug-in hybrid vehicles with relatively small batteries that can be charged fully overnight.

Still, some Tesla and other battery-electric vehicle (BEV) owners continue to charge on L1, even if their batteries don’t fully charge (or reach the 80% to 90% charge limit Tesla recommends for its non-LFP batteries). Trickle charging is the least expensive EV charging option, but keep in mind that it’s sometimes not fast enough to let you warm up your car before you get in when it’s cold out.

Unfortunately, the standard cord that plugs into the regular three-prong outlet on one end and your vehicle on the other is often fairly short. If that’s the case, you can use a heavy-duty extension cord (ideally 12 or even 10 gauge), though most owner manuals don’t recommend using extension cords with these EVSEs, since cheaper and lighter extension cords were not designed to cope with constant high voltage running through them for extended periods.

ev charger level 1

L2 Charging

Dealing with higher voltage and more amps is exactly what Level 2 (L2) chargers are designed to do, and consequently, they’re generally the recommended EVSEs for BEVs. Think the futuristic looking charging stations often featured in EV commercials. Some homeowners will install simpler 240-volt stove plugs and electrical service in their garages, as certain EVs come with a charge cord that can plug into these larger oven or clothes dryer outlets (with or without an adapter).

But for the quickest and most reliable home charging, a hard-wired 240-volt EVSE is likely your best bet. These chargers, most commonly called home chargers, can go all the way up to 80 amps and provide charging speeds up to about 20 kW, though speeds between 3 kW and 11 kW are still the most common for L2 home chargers. Both options provide L2 charging that easily delivers a full charge overnight, with roughly 30 km of driving range added per hour of charging, though that figure will vary depending on your EVSE’s power level.

The benefits of L2 charging are many: drivers can keep their cars in their garages, where they’re sheltered from the weather, and start their mornings with a full charge and no snow to clear off their windshield. Plus, the many smart L2 home chargers on the market can help drivers adjust when their vehicle starts charging, monitor how much electricity is flowing to the vehicle, and alert them if there’s a charge stoppage for any reason. Some even have a remote start option you can use from your phone.

Picture of Evercraft Jack and Stands

Other Options

But not every EV driver has access to an L2 charger overnight, or their own parking spot for that matter. For them, or any EV driver actually, they’ll want to download apps or bookmark sites like and to locate public Level 2 stations at places where drivers can stay a little longer–such as offices, the mall, or overnight street parking–and Level 3 DC quick charging stations.

For EV drivers on longer trips, or those without access to their own spot to charge, DC quick charging stations are crucial. These chargers are most commonly found near highways or high traffic areas and deliver hundreds of kilometres of range in 30 to 45 minutes for most EVs. But DC quick charging is also where there’s the least industry consensus, with three different types of DC quick chargers out there: CCS, for Combined Charging System; CHAdeMO (for Charge de Move), and Tesla Superchargers. Each type of quick charger features its own connector that won’t work with the others.

The industry is largely moving towards CCS charging in North America, as the number of models and companies using CHAdeMO on this continent continues to dwindle. Even EV industry leader Tesla has tacitly acknowledged this, as a handful of its many thousands of Superchargers feature a MagicDock, which gives drivers the ability to connect an integrated CCS adaptor to any CCS-equipped EV. But while a few of these MagicDock-equipped Superchargers have appeared in New York state and California, as of this writing, none have been installed in Canada.


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