How to charge an electric vehicle at a public charging station – from level 1 to level 3

electric vehicle [EV] Drivers living in condominiums or apartments may not have access to overnight charging at home.

Luckily, charging electric vehicles publicly is relatively easy, but there are a few important details to keep in mind.

Public charging station in use


Public charging station in usePhoto credit: Getty

Charging speeds and payment methods vary by station, and different EVs require specific connectors.

Level 1 charging is the slowest charging speed for public electric vehicles – it takes 10 hours or more to reach a full charge.

Most EV drivers use a Level One charger at home and overnight.

Level 1 chargers plug into a standard 120 volt outlet and feature an SAE J1772 connector.

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According to the US Department of Energy, as of 2021, over 80% of public EVSE charging stations in the US will be Level 2.

Tier 2 charging stations tend to pop up at malls, train stations, and other public destinations that draw crowds.

Others may be lucky enough to have a Level 2 charger at their place of work.

Level 2 chargers offer a full charge in about 8 hours and include an SAE J1772 connector, ChargeHub reports.

Next to Level 1, Level 3 chargers are the fastest and least common public EV chargers.

Level 3 chargers are less common because their high power levels are not suitable for homes and most EVs are not yet compatible with the technology.

All Level 3 or DC fast chargers use a J1172 connector to form a Combo Combined Charging System [CCS]US News reports.

***If you drive a Mitsubishi or Nissan electric car, according to US News, you have a CHAdeMO connector that is not compatible with a public CCS fast charging station.

The last type of EV connector only applies to Teslas.

Tesla offers a plug that is the smallest on the market and works with all charge levels.

Public charging station for electric vehicles in San Francisco


Public charging station for electric vehicles in San FranciscoPhoto credit: Getty

Finding a public electric vehicle charging station on a map is easy thanks to apps like:

  • PlugShare
  • ChargePointe
  • Zap card
  • A better route planner
  • Open charge card
  • ChargeHub
  • charging station

Tesla’s and certain public charging apps allow you to view a station’s speed, availability and type of connections, US News reports.

Experts recommend charging your vehicle to 80% at a public charging station, as performance will slow down as battery capacity approaches 100%.

Public charging station prices vary depending on the day of the week and the time of day.

Tesla charging station


Tesla charging stationPhoto credit: AFP

Using apps from charge point providers like EVgo, Electrify America and ChargePoint makes payments seamless and allows you to monitor your vehicle’s charge status, reports Kelley Blue Book.

Because DC fast charging is the fastest way to power your electric vehicle, it’s also the most expensive method.

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Condominium and apartment dwellers are not the only EV drivers who need regular access to public charging stations.

EV owners venturing out on long car journeys need access to public charging stations to stay on track. How to charge an electric vehicle at a public charging station – from level 1 to level 3

Chris Barrese

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