If you’re looking to purchase a new EV, you might be a bit confused about all the different kinds of charging. For most drivers it doesn’t matter, you have AC at home, but DC charging is faster. But if you’re here you probably want a more detailed answer.

While most EV drivers have a level 2 fast-charger installed at their home, the speed they can charge is limited by their car. That’s because the car must convert the alternating current(AC) to direct current(DC) before that power can go to the battery. Even if we were to install an even higher voltage outlet than the special 240-volt outlet used for EV charging, we couldn’t charge any faster.

The converter inside the car, called a rectifier, can only convert so much power to DC. Even the top-end Teslas are only capable of 22kW of AC power transfer. DC fast-chargers get around this by having their own rectifiers, enabling them to send power directly to the battery.

DC fast-chargers can be hooked directly into the grid, generally running at 480 volts or more. And by having the rectifiers needed to convert that much power, they can charge much faster. A single Tesla Supercharger has 12 times the DC conversion capabilities of a single onboard rectifier. And that Supercharger can charge a Tesla at an astonishing 145kW.

At that point, the main limiting factor is the battery. Charging at such high speeds can cause excessive battery degradation. So while DC fast-chargers can be really convenient on road trips, you wouldn’t exactly want one in your home. And it’s not just a matter of calling an electrician to install a 480-volt outlet, the equipment involved is very expensive. But when you’re out on the road and want to know where you can quickly top off your battery, look for a DC fast-charger.

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