What Is EV Fast Charging?
EV fast charging is usually seen as the third level of EV charging, after level 1 charging and level 2 charging. However, it is most commonly referred to as DC fast charging (or DCFC), rather than level 3 due to engineering considerations.
Fast charging uses direct current (DC), rather than alternating current (AC) battery, to deliver power straight to the battery, bypassing the vehicle's onboard charger. This permits the faster charging time that makes DCFC suitable for long-distance travel or rapid charge sessions for EV drivers who don’t have time for slower destination charging.
DC fast chargers provide charging power up to 350 kilowatts (kW). How much of that available power is used depends heavily on the model of EV and how it handles this type of charging. On a 350 kW DC fast charger, the most capable EV models can charge from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes, adding hundreds of miles in that time period. Older EV models and DCFC stations are limited to sub-100 kW charging, which can take 45 minutes to achieve similar fast charging results.
DCFC stations tend to be located along major highways and in urban areas with significant amenities, such as retail centers. Because they are more expensive to install and operate than level 2 charging stations, the cost to charge is typically 2-3x higher. For that extra fee, fast charging stations provide a quicker, more convenient charging option for EV users who need to get back on the road quickie, such as long-distance travelers and rideshare drivers.