EV Charging Stations: Understanding the Differences Between Level 1, Level 2, and DC Charging
As the electric vehicle (EV) market continues to grow, developers are recognizing the need to build more charging infrastructure. The number of EV charging stations has increased significantly in recent years, however global forecasts still show unmet demand for fast charging across the U.S. and Europe.
As of 2021, there were nearly 1.8 million publicly accessible chargers worldwide, but just one-third of those are what is considered “fast chargers,” or DC chargers. Most EV charging currently takes place at residences and workplaces, where drivers generally have access to slower, Level 1 chargers.
The disconnect between what EV drivers need to drive longer distances, and what they have access to currently, presents an interesting opportunity for the business community. Developers and other business leaders who can find ways to build EV charging stations on their properties stand to reap significant financial benefits in the years ahead.
EV Charging Basics
As the popularity of EVs continues to grow, so does the need for charging stations. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030, there will be more than 100 million EVs on the road. This means that there will be a huge demand for charging stations, both at home and in public places.
When planning an EV charging station, it’s important to understand the different levels of charging available: Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging. Each level offers different charging speeds and requires different equipment, so it’s essential to know the differences.
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 charging is the slowest of the three charging levels, but it’s also the most accessible. Level 1 charging requires a standard 120-volt household outlet and can provide up 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging time, depending on the vehicle.
This charging level is ideal for workplaces, residential areas, and other locations where vehicles will be parked for an extended period. Level 1 charging is also the least expensive option because it requires minimal infrastructure.
Level 2 Charging
Level 2 charging is faster than Level 1 charging and is suitable for more commercial locations, such as shopping centers, hotels, and public parking garages.
Level 2 chargers require a 240-volt power supply and can provide up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging time, depending on the vehicle. This charging level is ideal for drivers who need to charge their vehicles for a few hours while they run errands or do other activities.
Level 2 chargers are more expensive to purchase than Level 1 chargers, but they’re still relatively affordable and easy to install with the help of an electrical engineer.
DC Fast Charging
DC fast charging, also known as Level 3 charging, is the fastest charging level available. DC fast chargers require specialized equipment and a 480-volt power supply, making them the most expensive and challenging to install of the three charging levels. However, DC fast chargers can provide up to 80% of a vehicle’s battery capacity in just 30 minutes, making them ideal for highway rest stops, gas stations, and other locations where drivers need to charge quickly.
DC fast charging is an essential charging level to include in charging infrastructure, but it’s also the most complex to set up. To install a DC fast charger, developers must consult with an electrical engineer firm. KMB Design Group regularly works with companies building EV charging stations and offers assistance throughout the planning and installation process.
Although it’s generally understood that installing a DC fast charger is harder than a Level 1 or Level 2 charger, most people don’t understand why that is. The reason is because DC fast chargers require a higher voltage and amperage than Level 1 or Level 2 chargers. As a result, DC fast chargers need to be hardwired into the electrical panel, which can be a more complicated process than simply plugging in a Level 1 or Level 2 charger.
In addition, DC fast chargers are typically more expensive than Level 1 or Level 2 chargers. They require more complex electronics and they need to be able to handle the higher voltage and amperage.
If you are considering installing a DC fast charger, be sure to consult with a qualified electrical engineer to make sure that it is installed correctly and safely.
Tax Incentives for Installing EV Charging Stations
Thankfully, there are a number of tax incentives available for businesses that install EV charging stations. These incentives vary depending on the state or municipality, but they can include tax credits, rebates, or other incentives.
One of the most significant tax incentives for building EV charging stations currently is the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of the charging station installation, up to a maximum of $30,000. This tax credit is available to both individuals and businesses that install charging stations, and it applies to Level 2 and DC fast charging stations. To receive the credit, a charging station must be installed for use by the general public, and it must be capable of recharging an electric vehicle with a battery capacity of at least 4 kilowatt-hours.
In addition to the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, businesses may also be eligible for other tax incentives and grants at the state and local levels.
Some states offer rebates or tax credits for installing EV charging stations, while others offer grants to help cover the cost of installation. These credits can be a significant financial benefit, and they can help to offset the cost of installing a charging station. A growing number of local municipalities are also offering rebates and other incentives to businesses that install EV charging stations, including waived permitting fees, expedited permitting, and other forms of assistance.
If you are a business owner who is considering installing an EV charging station, be sure to check with an engineering firm like KMB, which specializes in EV charging, to see what incentives are available. Financial incentives can make the cost of installing a charging station more affordable.
It’s important to note that tax incentives and grants for EV charging stations can vary depending on the location and the specific program. It’s recommended that developers consult with tax professionals and check with their state and local authorities to determine what incentives and grants are available.
EV Charging Benefits Businesses
Commercial EV charging stations can be a great way for businesses to attract and retain customers. EVs are becoming increasingly popular, and many EV owners are looking for places to charge their cars when they are away from home. By installing commercial EV charging stations, businesses can show their customers that they are committed to sustainability and that they are thinking about the future.
In addition to attracting and retaining customers, commercial EV charging stations can also help businesses save money on energy costs. EVs are much more efficient than gas-powered cars, and they use less energy to charge. This means that businesses that install commercial EV charging stations can save money on their energy bills.
EV Charging: Key Takeaways
Understanding the differences between Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging is crucial when planning an EV charging station. Level 1 charging is slow but accessible, Level 2 charging is faster and suitable for commercial locations, and DC fast charging is the fastest but requires specialized equipment and a higher voltage power supply. By offering a mix of all three charging levels, you can provide your customers with the charging options they need to keep their EVs charged and on the road.
Tax incentives for building EV charging stations vary depending on the type of charger and the charging level that a developer installs. Because of this, it’s essential to research the available incentives and consult with an engineering firm that specializes in EV charging to take advantage of these incentives.
KMB Design Group is a full-service engineering firm with years of experience in the EV space. Our in-house team of electrical, civil, and structural engineers provide coordinated expertise to ensure clients are able to plan and deploy their electric vehicle charging (EVC) stations from start to finish.
For assistance and guidance on how to get your project off the ground, contact KMB Design Group at 855-755-6234.