Charging 101: Energizing your Fleet


Throughout Trio’s Transportation Electrification Blog Series, we have learned the basic industry terms, how electrified fleets reduce GHG emissions, the journey to developing your transition plan, and have gotten an overview on vehicle types, now is the time to learn how to charge your vehicles. In this sixth installment, we will be discussing the different levels of charging, plug types, and all the ins and outs of the topic. Be sure to check out our post on Electric Vehicle Terminology You Should Know for any charging terms you may be unfamiliar with!

Charging Levels: 1, 2, and DCFC

Electric vehicle chargers come in three different levels, each classified by a rate of charge, increasing in speed at each level.

Level 1

Level 1 chargers use up to 120 volts (V) of Alternating Current (AC), charging up to 2.4 kilowatts (kW). This translates to about 4-5 miles of range per hour. Most electric vehicles come with a Level 1 charging cord as the 120V socket is the standard electrical outlet in the United States and can be plugged in without additional infrastructure. Level 1 charging typically fits residential settings, and as of 2020, less than 5% of Public EVSE ports in the United States are Level 1.1

Level 2

Level 2 chargers use up to 240V of AC, charging from about 7 kW to 19 kW, or about 10-20 miles of range per hour. These chargers require a 220-240V socket, similar to your dryer or other large appliance. Installation is generally easy as most businesses may already have sufficient panel capacity. Level 2 charging is commonly seen in residential and commercial applications, and approximately 80% of publicly available charging ports in the United States are Level 2.


The quickest and most expensive of charging options, Direct Current Fast Charging or DCFC is sometimes referred to as Level 3 charging. DCFC chargers use up to 480 V, ranging from 50 to 350 kW. This translates to about 180-240 miles of range per hour. DCFC is unique because it bypasses the process of converting AC power to Direct Current (DC) pulling directly from the power grid. The installation of this type of charger often requires additional equipment and much more planning and utility coordination. These chargers are best for roadside stops, retail visits where vehicles aren’t parked for long, or for vehicles that need to get quickly back to business.

Trio Insight – Faster Does Not Always Equal Better

While DCFC charging is the quickest, it may not be the best solution for every fleet. Your fleet may be able to maximize efficiency without that level of charging. Often times fleet vehicles are parked at depots overnight and can effectively utilize Level 2 charging.

Charging Plugs

The charging plugs, or connectors, are a device attached to a cable that connects to an EV allowing it to charge. These connectors vary by electric vehicles and are placed typically into two categories: Level 1 and Level 2 use the same type of connector, and then a separate connector for DC fast charging. Below are the different connector types.

Networked Vs Non-Networked Charging

Networked or “smart” charging connects your infrastructure to the internet via a software provider and allows the collection and transmission of usage data. For example, networked chargers can balance load during peak demand, diagnose and troubleshoot problems remotely, and allow for the charger owner to charge users a fee for plugging in.

These charging station networks will either be open or closed. With an open network, the software is compatible with a large range of EV charger manufacturers and can be changed to another provider if desired. These providers follow the national OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) standard set by the Open Charge Alliance. This means that a charging network can have different brands and models of chargers operating under the same software.
With a closed network, your charging hardware and software are tied together, meaning the charging hardware system will need to use the associated software platform.

Non-networked chargers don’t have software integrations, and can reduce costs, although do not provide the suite of ancillary services networked chargers do. They do not have internet access, meaning data and fees cannot be collected.

Charging an electric vehicle or company fleet may seem like an overwhelming task, Trio can help your organization plan for the best charging configurations for your fleets need.