EV 101: How And Where To Charge An Electric Car

OCT 3 2018 BY JIM GORZELANY 12

Just as a conventionally powered car won’t run without gas in the tank, neither will an electric vehicle unless its battery is sufficiently charged.

But while most motorists can only get a fill-up at a gas station, EV owners have multiple options for replenishing their rides. Here’s a quick look at what’s available.

1. CHARGE AT HOME

This is the easiest way to keep an EV charged, at least provided you have access to a garage with electrical service. All EVs come with basic charging units that allow them to plug into a standard 120-volt wall socket, which is also called “Level 1” charging. Unfortunately, a full charge can take eight hours or more using house current.

A better way to go is to have an electrician install a dedicated 240-volt line in your garage along with a specific “Level 2” charger. It’s not cheap, but the added up-front costs will pay off in terms of much quicker charging times. It takes around four hours to fully replenish an EV’s battery, depending on the model, using Level 2 charging. Many states offer programs to help make installing a home charging station more affordable.

Charging at home is also the cheapest way to keep an EV running. For example, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.com website, it will cost an owner $0.92 to drive a Chevrolet Bolt EV for 25 miles at average electricity rates. That’s just over an hour’s worth of Level 2 charging, according to the automaker’s specs. (Driving that same 25 miles, by the way, will cost $2.15 in a gas-powered Chevrolet Cruze.)

Many EVs use a smartphone app to let owners schedule charging during certain hours when electricity is cheaper if the local electric company offers discounted off-peak rates.

Tesla Model X at Destination Charging beachside

2. PUBLIC CHARGING

Though still not as prevalent as gasoline pumps, the number of public EV charging stations being installed across the U.S. is expanding rapidly. As of this writing, there’s around 20,000 of them, with many sites having multiple charging units. You’ll find them most prevalent in or near areas having a higher concentration of EVs. They’re typically installed in apartment building and public parking garages, retail parking lots, at new-car dealerships, and even on some urban street corners.

Many public charging stations still offer free charging, while others exact a fee that varies according to the operator. Some charging networks require a membership to access their units. Tesla Motors has established an extensive “Supercharger” network of stations at its dealerships and other locations worldwide that’s exclusively for Tesla EV owners. If you’re taking an EV on any kind of road trip, it’s imperative you plan your route according to where public charging stations are located. EV owners can locate charging stations anywhere in the U.S. via multiple websites, including PlugShare.com, as well as smartphone apps like CarStations.

Public chargers are most commonly set-up for Level 2 charging, which makes them most worthwhile for “topping off” an EV’s battery while shopping, dining, or running errands (especially since some lots restrict parking to just two hours). A better choice is to find a station that affords “Level 3” charging, which is also called DC fast charging. This is the quickest system of all, being able to bring a given EV’s battery up to 80% of its capacity in just 30 minutes.

However, be aware that some Level 3 chargers use different connecting port configurations than others. You may need to use an adaptor to tap into a given unit, if you can use it at all. (Again, Tesla Superchargers can be used only with Tesla vehicles.) Check ahead of time via the aforementioned websites or apps to see if your vehicle is compatible before you head for an unfamiliar charging station.

3. WORKPLACE CHARGING

Some companies have installed electric car chargers in their garages and parking lots for their employees’ use. They’re most typically Level 2 chargers, which is not particularly a disadvantage considering a car can be connected over the course of an eight-hour workday. Workplace charging is still not particularly common, however, though some states now offer an incentive for having on-site stations installed.

Source: MYEV.com

Categories: Charging

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12 Comments on "EV 101: How And Where To Charge An Electric Car"

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Does Regen charging count? 😉

Just a bit more than Solar Charging the onboard 12V Battery!

saw a fiskar at a Home Depot today. I thought it was hysterical to see the small roof top solar panel.

Mountains – the original public charging stations!

We need to discourage using daytime charging (at least in America), ASAP. Look, multiple studies have been done in America on moving our vehicles to electric. WHEN we move our road-based transportation to batteries, we will double the amount of electricity that we currently use. The studies have shown that our electricity/grid is mostly good, as long as less than 25% of the vehicles charge in the daytime. From 15-25% of the vehicles, the electrical costs will be similar. OTOH, if less than 15% of the vehicles charge in the daytime, than electricity costs will actually DROP. Why? Because it balances out the load on the grid and power plants. IF we go over 25% charging in the daytime, electricity costs go WAY UP. Not a little. It will be like moving to $3-5/gal gas. So, how to change things? First off, we need to quit subsidizing hybrids, as well as low MPC vehicles. The leaf at 80 MPC is a FREAKING JOKE. Secondly, it is time to put a tax on business and public chargers. .01 / kwh during 0900-2100. And another .01 / kwh (i.e. total of .02/kwh) from 1400-1800. And yes, if there is an excess of… Read more »

This can easily be accomplished with standard TOU rates. No taxes necessary. If we get to the point where daytime charging is common, we simply put more people on TOU rates. Or maybe all. Workplace charging goes against this, though.

P.S. The Leaf hasn’t been 80MPC since 2016. It’s 2018, and it goes 150 MPC.

Kudos for thinking at country-wide bigger picture level, but your policy idea has a shotgun aim for a pinpoint problem.
Foremost, if the vehicle’s charged range matches its use profile there is no need to further disincentivize its proliferation for the users for whom its use is grid-friendly, and that is if we even accept your prenotion that shifting load to the grid is such a bad thing as you pronounce.
Continuing, your tax proposal supposes that those charging vehicles will rationally react to small increases in price. Even a casual look at combustion vehicle refueling habits would reveal the weakness of that supposition. The balancing of grid loads is not rewarded by your tax scheme, and in fact it even provides an incentive for some industries to charge batteries during your high-traffic periods and to potentially earn a premium on it.
One can find better locations than a consumer EV forum to learn about these complex technical and regulatory issues online. Kudos again to you for the interest, but the armchair policymaking is likely to fall short of compelling fruitful actions.

There is a convergence between the growth of solar and EV. By the time EV’s make the type of impact in electricity demand that you speaking of, solar would have grown astronomically as well. At some point, solar will be so prevalent that off peak rates may actually be during the day when solar is producing and night time will be peak rates because they will be utilizing utility scale battery storage which has a higher cost associated.

Jim,

Please, please, PLEASE! If you are going to write an article about the basics of electric car charging, and then publish it on an EV website, use the proper terminology on charging levels. The SAE defines three levels of BOTH AC and DC charging:
AC L1: 120V, up to 16A (1.9kW)
AC L2: 240V up to 80A (19.2kW)
AC L3: > 20kW (future)
DC L1: 200-450V up to 80A (36kW) – there are plenty of these in CA I hear
DC L2: 200-450V up to 200A (90kW) – these are very common in the US for non-Tesla EVs. It is L2, NOT L3.
DC L3: 200-600V up to 400A (240kW) – this may have been revised to include the new CCS chargers that can provide up to 350kW at 800V

I have never before seen any suggestion for use of the terms “DC L1”, “DC L2”, or “DC L3”. Adding non-standard terminology to an “Education 101” article is only going to confuse the target audience.

In EV discussions, “L1” and “L2” always refers to AC charging, not DC. The term “L3” was an older term for DC fast charging, which has fallen out of use.

You should educate yourself then. The terms I listed are not simply vernacular terms used by the enthusiast crowd. They were created and defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). In case you didn’t know, they have actual authority for naming and standardizing things. For example, the J1772 protocol or the Combined Charging Standard.

Start building high power public EV charging stations or all the solid state battery chemistry won’t do any darned good! Even EVgo’s weak chargers are better then nothing. I wonder if EA is making any progress or headway with their network! Progress sure is slow !