Level 1 Charging Guide

As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity, understanding the basics of Level 1 Charging becomes increasingly important for both current and prospective EV owners. This entry-level charging solution caters to a variety of driving needs, offering a cost-effective and convenient option for recharging.

In this guide from Electrly, we delve into the mechanics, charging speed, and essential factors to consider when utilizing Level 1 EV chargers, ensuring a seamless transition to electric vehicle ownership.

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How Does A Level 1 Charger Send Electricity to My EV?

Charging an electric vehicle involves transferring electricity from its source to the car's battery, requiring a conversion from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). Let’s take a look at the key components involved in Level 1 charging.

National Electricity Grid

The national electricity grid is a vast network that supplies power to residential and commercial areas, providing alternating current (AC) to homes and businesses. AC is the standard form of electricity utilized by most household appliances, including Level 1 EV chargers.

Level 1 Charger

A Level 1 charger is a charging unit that connects your electric vehicle to the power grid via a standard 120-volt AC outlet (wallplug). This type of charger uses a dedicated circuit and is compatible with most electric vehicles. While it may be slower than other charging methods, it provides an effortless, entry-level solution for EV charging.

The Vehicle On-board Charger

The onboard charger is a crucial component of an electric vehicle. It is responsible for converting the AC power supplied by the Level 1 charger into direct current (DC) power, which is then used to charge the vehicle's battery.

The conversion process is facilitated by a rectifier within the onboard charger, which changes the AC waveform into a DC waveform. This mechanism ensures that the appropriate voltage and current are delivered to the battery, managing the charging process and safeguarding the battery from potential damage.

Basic States of Level 1 Charging

Level 1 charging offers a simple and convenient way to charge electric vehicles, particularly for those with shorter commutes or overnight charging opportunities. Here are the basic electrical states associated with Level 1 charging:

Attribute Level 1 Charging
Current Type Alternating Current (AC)
Power Delivery Up to 3.5 kW
Voltage 120 Volts (standard)
Amperage 20 Amps

Level 1 Charging Speed

The charging speed of a Level 1 charger is dependent on its power output and the battery capacity of the vehicle being charged. To understand the charging time, we can use a simple calculation method: divide the battery capacity (kWh) by the charging power (kW).

For instance, let's consider a Tesla Model 3 with a 60 kWh battery pack. A typical Level 1 charger has a power output of approximately 3.5 kW. Therefore, by dividing the 60 kWh battery capacity by the 3.5 kW power output. The result reveals that it would take around 17 hours to fully charge the vehicle using a Level 1 charger.

Level 1 Charging Cables & Connectors


Level 1 charging relies on the Type 1 charging connector, also known as the SAE J1772 or J-plug, which is commonly used in North America. The Type 1 connector is designed for single-phase AC charging and is compatible with most electric vehicles on the market.


The charging mechanism for Level 1 charging primarily involves Mode 2 charging. Mode 2 charging cables come equipped with an In-Cable Control and Protection Device (IC-CPD) which is responsible for managing the flow of electricity, preventing overloading, and ensuring safe charging. The IC-CPD establishes a communication link between the vehicle and the charging cable, which in turn allows for effective monitoring and control during the charging process.

To learn more about EV charging connectors and charging mechanisms, please check out our EV Charging Cables & Plugs Guide.

Pros & Cons of a Level 1 EV Charger

Level 1 charging is a simple and affordable solution for charging electric vehicles. However, it also has its drawbacks. To better understand if Level 1 charging is suitable for your needs, consider the following pros and cons:


  • Non or low upfront costs: For many electric vehicle owners, Level 1 charging does not entail any significant expenses, as the necessary equipment such as cable, connector, plug, and storage box is often included with the vehicle.
  • No installation is required: Level 1 chargers plug directly into a standard household outlet, eliminating the need for professional installation or dedicated charging infrastructure. This convenience makes it an accessible option for those who may not have the resources or inclination to install a more advanced charging system.
  • Suitable for PHEV or short commute drivers: For drivers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or those with shorter daily commutes, Level 1 charging can be sufficient to keep their vehicle charged. Overnight charging provides ample time for the battery to replenish, and the slower charging speed is less of a concern for drivers with modest daily energy requirements.


  • Slow charging speed: The primary disadvantage of Level 1 charging is its slow charging speed. With a maximum power output of just 3.5 kW, Level 1 charging takes significantly longer to charge an electric vehicle compared to Level 2 charging. This slower charging speed may not be suitable for drivers with longer daily commutes or those who need quick access to a fully charged vehicle.

How to Choose the Best Level 1 EV Charger for My Car?

Selecting the most suitable Level 1 EV charger for your electric vehicle can be an important decision. Generally, there are two main options to consider: using the OEM Level 1 charger provided with the vehicle or purchasing an aftermarket charger.

Here are some key aspects to consider when choosing the best Level 1 EV charger for your needs:

OEM Level 1 Charger

Most electric vehicles come with a standard Level 1 charger provided by the manufacturer. These chargers are designed specifically for your vehicle and are typically reliable and compatible.

However, it's worth noting that Tesla, since 2022, no longer provides a Level 1 Mobile Connector with its vehicles so Tesla owners may face some additional costs when they want to use portable Level 1 charging.

Aftermarket Charger

If you decide to opt for a third-party Level 1 EV charger, there are several factors to consider:

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the aftermarket charger you select is compatible with your vehicle's charging port and electrical system. Check the specifications to make sure it meets your vehicle's requirements and consult your owner's manual or the manufacturer for guidance if you're unsure.
  • Safety and certification: When purchasing a third-party charger, prioritize models that have been tested and certified by recognized safety organizations, such as UL or ETL. These certifications guarantee that the charger has undergone rigorous testing and meets industry safety standards, ensuring your vehicle and home are protected during the charging process.
  • Features and warranty: Compare the features offered by different aftermarket chargers, such as cable length, portability, and weather resistance. Additionally, consider the warranty provided by the manufacturer, as this can offer some assurance in case of any issues or defects with the charger.

Electrly is a professional charging equipment manufacturer that provides simple, reliable, and robust charging solutions for individual, residential, and commercial uses by addressing all of the mentioned concerns.

The Portable Box Level 1 Charger from Electrly is designed to be compatible with the majority of electric vehicle models currently available in the market. It meets industry-leading quality control standards and provides certified charging capability. Additionally, it comes with a factory-guaranteed 2-year warranty.

>> Click here to learn more about the product details <<


1. Do all of the electric vehicles in the US support Level 1 charging?

Yes, all electric vehicles in the United States, including both Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), support Level 1 charging. This universal compatibility ensures that EV owners can charge their vehicles using the standard charging option provided by the vehicle manufacturer or an aftermarket Level 1 charger.

2. How much does it cost to charge my car with a Level 1 EV charger?

When it comes to the cost to charge your EV with a Level 1 charger, there are two main factors to consider:

Equipment: For most electric vehicles, a Level 1 charger is included with the purchase. However, Tesla owners who purchased their vehicles after April 2022 will need to buy a Mobile Connector separately, which costs around $230 before tax.

Utility bills: The cost of electricity used for charging will depend on your local utility rates and the vehicle's battery capacity. To calculate this, multiply your local electricity rate (in $/kWh) by the total kWh needed to charge your vehicle's battery from empty to full.

3. Can I charge my Tesla at public Level 1 Charging stations?

Yes, Tesla vehicles can be charged at Tesla's destination charging stations in the US for Level 1 and 2 charging. However, when using regular Type 1 charging stations, Tesla owners will need an additional adapter to ensure compatibility.

This adapter typically comes included with the vehicle, allowing Tesla owners to charge their cars at various public charging stations. You can also purchase the SAE J1772 adapter as well as the CCS 1 adapter from Tesla’s official shop based on your needs.

4. Since Level 1 charging takes longer to charge, does it use more electricity accordingly?

While Level 1 charging takes longer to charge an EV, it does not necessarily consume more electricity than faster charging methods. The total energy required to fully charge the battery remains the same; however, Level 1 charging may be slightly less energy efficient due to the longer duration, which can result in minor energy loss in the form of heat.

This difference in efficiency is generally not significant enough to cause a considerable increase in energy consumption or electricity cost. Keep in mind that the energy efficiency of the charging process can be influenced by factors such as the EV's onboard charger, battery temperature, and external environment.

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