With the world shifting towards cleaner and more sustainable transportation, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as one of the best options. This is where Level 3 EV charging stations enter the stage! For EVs to become more mainstream, a robust charging infrastructure must accompany it. Through Level 3 chargers, motorists can recharge their electric cars in minutes. So what is a level 3 EV charging station?
In this article, we’ll dive into the world of Level 3 EV charging stations. From how they work to how much they cost, everything you need to know is below.
How Level 3 EV Chargers Work
Also known as DC fast chargers, Level 3 EV charging stations are the fastest-performing power sources for electric vehicles. They’re specially designed to quickly recharge an electric car’s battery, allowing for shorter charging times than lower-level stations.
The key to the Level 3 charger’s speed is its ability to harness DC power directly. Level 1 chargers and Level 2 chargers only harness AC (alternating current) power. Your car has a built-in inverter (or onboard charger) to convert that power into DC (direct current). This is one of the reasons why these chargers work more slowly.
Since Level 3 chargers directly provide DC power, it bypasses the AC-to-DC conversion altogether. This speeds up the entire charging process, saving you time and effort.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Level 3 EV Chargers
Level 3 EV charging stations can offer several perks, making them a valuable option for many electric car owners. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any downsides. Take a closer look at these advantages and disadvantages below:
Level 3 EV chargers are best known for their swift charging times. This is why long-distance travellers often look for one during road trips. Plugging into a Level 3 station allows you to recharge your EV battery to around 80% within 20 to 30 minutes.
They also make owning an electric vehicle much more convenient. Level 3 chargers work like your average gas station. As long as there’s one nearby, EV owners can replenish their batteries anytime and anywhere.
High Power Output
They can deliver up to 350 kW of electrical power, if not more. This helps accelerate the charging process, making them ideal for areas with high demand for EV chargers.
Thanks to their rapid charging ability, most Level 3 chargers are placed in strategic locations. This allows more people to access them whenever they need to recharge their EVs. Notable spots include urban centres, major highways, and other popular destinations.
Having your own Level 3 EV charging station is quite expensive, mainly due to the advanced tech and infrastructure needed. And even if you choose to take your EV to a public one, you’ll also have to pay higher charges (so the owners can recoup their losses).
Despite EVs becoming more popular, not all of them are equipped to handle the high-power output of Level 3 chargers. Vehicles manufactured before the charger’s inception might also not be compatible.
While Level 3 chargers allow you to power up your EV more quickly, the high power levels generated can stress your battery if you’re not careful. Eventually, it can affect the overall health and longevity of the battery.
Even with Level 3 stations becoming more widespread, they’re still less available than Level 1 or 2 chargers. And due to the costs of installing and maintaining one, their numbers will likely stay the same for now.
Different Types of Level 3 Chargers
Level 3 EV charging stations have evolved over the years. Today, various types of Level 3 chargers are available, each with differing capabilities. These include:
Invented in Japan, CHAdeMO is extremely popular among Japanese and South Korean EV owners. They can deliver 50 to 100 kW worth of power and provide motorists with high-power DC charging. Plus, CHAdeMO has a connector compatible with many EV models.
The Combined Charging System (CCS) is the go-to Level 3 charger for most Europeans and North Americans. This station combines AC and DC charging in a single connector, allowing for a wide range of high power levels. The average capability is around 200 to 350 kW, depending on the charger’s capabilities and the EV’s compatibility.
Additionally, Tesla has its own line of Level 3 charging networks. Know as Superchargers, they’re specially designed to power up Tesla’s vehicles. These stations can have up to 250 kW of power, allowing users to replenish their batteries faster.
Bespoke Fast Chargers
Many private and government-sponsored companies have also developed their own Level 3 charging stations. These come with varying power outputs, connectors, and network requirements. You need to do your research first before taking your EVs there for a recharge.
Finally, there are ultra-fast Level 3 chargers capable of delivering 350 kW or more. These stations come with the latest advancements in EV charging technology. They are situated in high-traffic locations to meet demand.
Where to Find Level 3 Charging Stations in Australia
Australia is embracing the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, with Level 3 charging stations becoming increasingly accessible nationwide. In fact, should you need one, you can visit the Electric Vehicle Council, ChargeFox, or Evie to find the nearest station. Anyway, here are some of the most common locations for Level 3 chargers:
Highways and Major Roads
Level 3 charging stations are often situated along highways and main road networks, offering a convenient option for long-distance travellers to quickly recharge their EVs during road trips.
City centres and metropolitan areas boast multiple Level 3 charging stations. These locations cater to urban EV owners who rely on quick charging for daily routines.
Many shopping malls and retail centres have embraced the EV revolution by installing EV chargers in parking lots. This allows shoppers to recharge while taking care of errands.
Popular tourist spots, such as national parks, scenic viewpoints, and coastal areas, often feature Level 3 charging stations. This encourages sustainable travel for tourists exploring the country.
Airports are recognising the increasing number of EV owners. This is why they gradually provide Level 3 charging facilities in their parking areas, catering to travellers arriving or departing in electric vehicles.
Business districts and commercial hubs host Level 3 charging stations to support employees who commute in EVs, ensuring a reliable charging solution during work hours.
Hotels, resorts, and restaurants are accommodating EV customers by installing Level 3 chargers in their parking facilities, enhancing the convenience of electric travel.
Public Charging Networks
Various public charging networks operate nationwide, deploying Level 3 charging stations in key locations and offering apps or websites to assist drivers in locating them.
What is the Cost of Level 3 EV Charging in Australia?
Level 3 EV stations offer the most convenient way for Aussie EV owners to keep their rides powered up. However, the price of owning one is steep.
According to TPS, Level 3 charging stations cost around $40,000 to $100,000. You might also have to pay an additional $15,000 to $60,000 for installation.
On the other hand, the charging rates for public Level 3 stations are just around $0.30 to $0.60 per kWh. If you don’t have the budget to install or maintain your own charger, you can take your EV to these venues instead.
Bear in mind that the rate can fluctuate depending on the provider, location, and whatnot. For example, charging a Tesla Model 3 Long Range RWD with a 75-kWh battery cost around $0.55 per kWh. That means you’ll have to pay approximately $41.25 for a full charge.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Level 3 Charging
Given this price range, it’s essential to know the factors involved in the overall cost of Lever 3 charging. This will help you plan accordingly and manage costs effectively. The most important factors include:
Charging Network and Provider
Different charging networks and providers offer varying pricing models. Some charge a flat fee per session, while others implement pricing based on the energy delivered or the time spent charging.
Many Level 3 charging stations calculate costs based on the time spent charging. As a result, the longer you use the charger, the higher the price will be. This pricing structure encourages efficient use of the charging station.
The charging speed of Level 3 chargers can impact the cost. Some charging stations offer different power levels, with higher-speed chargers often being more expensive per minute or per kWh.
Membership and Subscriptions
Some charging networks offer membership or subscription plans that can provide discounted rates for frequent users. These plans might involve a monthly fee in exchange for lower charging costs.
Certain establishments ask for a fee to access their Level 3 chargers. This fee can vary depending on what kind of chargers they use, so do your research accordingly.
Demand and Location
Suppose the charging stations are in high-demand areas like urban centres or major highways. In that case, they might charge higher fees due to their sheer convenience.
The Australian government currently offers several incentives and grants to anyone wishing to own an EV charging station. By taking advantage of these, you can offset some of the costs of getting one.
Like gasoline stations, establishments with Level 3 chargers accept different payment methods. These include credit cards, mobile apps, or specific RFID cards. This makes paying for their services much more convenient. However, depending on location, it can also make the price a bit higher.
Tips to Properly Recharge Your EV Via Level 3 Stations
Using Level 3 stations is a great way to power up your electric car; there’s no doubt about that. But to make the most of these high-power chargers, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:
Ensure your EV is compatible with the Level 3 charger you plan to use. Different EV models have varying charging requirements, and not all vehicles can handle the high-power output of Level 3 chargers.
Plan Charging Stops
Incorporate charging stops into your travel plans, especially during long journeys. Level 3 charging is ideal for rapid top-ups, so use them strategically to extend your driving range.
Monitor Battery Temperature
High-speed charging generates heat in your battery. If your EV offers it, use pre-conditioning features to cool the battery before charging, optimising charging speed and battery health.
Stay Within Safe Limits
Level 3 charging speed can vary based on your EV’s state of charge. Charging speeds might slow down as the battery approaches a higher percentage to protect the battery’s health.
Charge during off-peak hours to benefit from lower electricity rates, as some charging networks offer variable pricing based on the time of day.
Use Apps and Maps
Utilise charging network apps and navigation systems to find Level 3 charging stations, check availability, and monitor real-time charging progress.
Be Prepared to Move
Some charging networks may have a recommended maximum charging time to ensure accessibility for other EV drivers. Be prepared to move your vehicle once charging is complete.
Prepare for Payment
Ensure you have the necessary payment methods, such as credit cards or mobile apps, to pay for the charging session and any connection or session fees.
Keep an eye on your charging session via your EV’s app or the charging network’s app. Some chargers allow you to receive notifications when your charging session is complete.
Once your charging is complete, disconnect your EV from the charger, stow away cables neatly, and leave the charging station area clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 EV charging?
Level 2 and Level 3 EV charging have particular distinctions that set them apart from each other. Here’s a breakdown of their fundamental differences:
- Charging Speed. Level 2 chargers typically have a power output ranging from 3.7 to 22 kW, meaning it needs several hours to fully recharge an electric car. In contrast, Level 3 chargers can provide around 25 to 350 kW of power. This allows them to recharge a battery within 10 to 30 minutes.
- Power Source. Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt alternating current (AC) source, while their Level 3 counterpart relies on a 480-volt direct current (DC) source.
- Infrastructure Requirements. Level 2 stations generally require a dedicated circuit. They can be installed where vehicles are parked for extended periods (homes, workplaces, etc). Level 3 stations need a more robust infrastructure due to the high power levels. Thus, they’re typically found where fast charging is essential (highways, commercial areas, etc).
- Vehicle Compatibility. Level 2 chargers are compatible with most electric vehicles, which is why they’re often considered the standard charger for many EVs. In contrast, not all electric cars are equipped to handle the rapid rates of Level 3 chargers. It’s essential to check the vehicle’s specifications before using one.
How many kW is a Level 3 EV Charger?
Level 3 EV chargers typically provide power levels ranging from 25 to 350 kW. The exact power output can vary based on the specific model and brand of the charger and the infrastructure supporting it. It’s worth noting that while 50 to 150 kW chargers are more common, advancements in technology have led to the development of ultra-fast chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW. This enabled even quicker charging times for compatible electric vehicles.
Adding specific components to the Level 3 EV charger can further improve its performance. For example, a study by Sang Chon, Manish Bhardwaj and Hrishi Nene found that the Vienna rectifier can enhance efficiency and power density.
Is Tesla Level 2 or 3 charger?
Tesla offers both Level 2 and Level 3 chargers. Commonly used for home charging, the Tesla Wall Connector is a Level 2 charger with a 240-volt AC power source. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Supercharger stations, found in various public locations and designed for rapid charging on long trips, are Level 3 DC fast chargers. These can provide significantly quicker charging speeds than the Wall Connector, allowing Tesla vehicles to get a substantial range boost faster.