September 15, 2022

Are EV Charging Stations Universal?


3 Min. Read

Upgrading a multifamily or commercial property with EV chargers will appeal to EV owners, a population segment that is rapidly expanding. You should recognize that there are different types of EV charging stations available before delving into a project of this nature and scale. Compatibility with existing vehicles is a key consideration for ensuring that your project creates value for as many EV owners as possible.

Are EV charging stations universal?

There are three levels of charging available for EVs. Most chargers are universal, but there are limits when it comes to Level 3 charging.

Comparing the installation cost, speed of charging, and compatibility of the options available to you is one of the first steps you should take when making plans to upgrade a property with EV chargers, as these can vary greatly between the different levels of charging.

Is Level 1 charging universal?

Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V wall outlet. EV owners can connect their cars to a standard outlet via a J-1772 or J-plug.

All EVs come equipped with this capability, making Level 1 charging universal. Offering Level 1 charging is inexpensive since you can bypass the charging station and plug a vehicle directly into a wall outlet.

The downside of Level 1 charging is the slow charging speed, which doesn’t make it a realistic option for meeting EV drivers’ daily needs.

Are Level 2 chargers universal?

Level 2 charging is the most popular charging method, with over 51,000 public charging stations offering Level 2 chargers and a growing number of EV owners installing these stations at home.

A Level 2 charger uses a dedicated 240V circuit, and the power goes through a charging station that regulates the load to protect the EV’s battery.

EVs sold in North America use a universal J-plug for Level 2 charging. Level 2 charging also offers an advantageous compromise between price and performance, making this option the most realistic charging method for commercial and multifamily projects, as well as homeowners.

A Level 2 charger can fill up a battery in 4 to 10 hours, depending on the vehicle and the size of the charger. Charging should take under two hours for a plug-in hybrid vehicle, a type of vehicle that is becoming more popular, with adoption rates going up by 55% in May 2022 as compared to a year ago.

Level 2 charging is a versatile solution that gives EV owners access to overnight charging to get the full range of their vehicle, as well as shorter charging sessions for topping off their battery.

Are Level 3 chargers universal?

Level 3 or DC fast charging delivers impressive speeds and current ratings of up to 300 amps and 480V. Depending on the EV, drivers can charge their battery to 80% in 30 minutes. Some models take closer to an hour to reach this level of charge. Additionally, while DC fast charging is a quick and convenient option, it should not be used as a regular daily source of charging as it can lead to higher battery degradation over time.

Level 3 charging can be cost-prohibitive for commercial projects and there is a relatively small public network with close to 8,000 stations available at this time.

You’ll find three types of plugs for Level 3 charging:

  • CCS plugs are the most common. You can find them on some BMW, GM, Ford, Mazda, Honda, or VW models, among many others.
  • You can find CHAdeMO plugs on Nissan and Mitsubishi EVs and older Kia and Hyundai models.
  • Tesla vehicles use a standard unique to this manufacturer, the Tesla Supercharger plug.

What’s next for your EV charging project?

Now that you know more about the different charging options available and their compatibility, it’s time to look into finding a reliable installer.

Qmerit takes the stress out of vetting charging station installers to start growing your infrastructure. Our mission is to make electrification accessible and affordable. We can help you manage the EV transition and guide you in offsetting costs through utility incentives and financing. Contact us today to learn more.

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification