Can you rely on regular 110-volt electricity to charge your electric car? Or is 240 volts and a fancy charging station required? Let's examine this in some detail.

A standard outlet in a home in the U.S. is often referred to as a 110-volt outlet. This is where we plug in everything from TVs, to microwaves, to cell phone chargers and more. These outlets are so common that we're often asked if they can be used to charge electric cars. Yes, they can, but there are some caveats.


Speed of charging

110-volt charging is slow. Like a snail-paced type of slow. This is okay if you don't drive a lot of miles in a day or have a lot of time in between usage of the car, but for the average driver, a charging rate of adding just a few miles of range per hour is simply unacceptable.

Concerns over the durability of wiring/charger

The 100-volt chargers that come with plug-in cars are typically referred to as portable chargers or occasional-use chargers. They aren't necessarily designed to be used daily or even multiple times per day. Therefore, it's hard to recommend that they are used in such a capacity. More robust 240-volt chargers are designed for heavy usage, unlike these occasional-use 110-volt units.

Cold-weather issues

That aforementioned snail-paced charging can slow even more when the mercury dips down below freezing. In fact, in some instances with certain electric cars, charging can barely keep pace with battery charge loses when it's bitterly cold out.

Miles driven per day

If you only drive a few miles here and there on a typical day, then a 110-volt unit may suffice. However, if you're routinely draining a good portion of your car's battery daily, we'd recommend stepping up to a 240-volt charger.

BMW TurboCord

A faster, better and more durable 240-volt charging solution

A 240-volt charging system, known as level two charging, will charge your electric car much more quickly than a 110-volt unit. Additionally, it's designed for repeated, heavy usage. Some of the units, like the one pictured above, can even plug into both 110-volt and 240-volt outlets.

We're not going to dive into the detail on 240-volt chargers here other than to say we highly recommend you invest in a solid 240-volt charger to charge up your plug-in hybrid and/or electric car. For full details on 240-volt chargers, follow the link below for our exhaustive overview/reviews and so much more.


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