Are you thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle? If so, you’ll need to know how to charge it!
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about electric vehicle charging, from the different types of EV chargers and the connectors they use, to the top companies to consider and questions to ask when shopping for an electric vehicle charger. We’ll also answer some common questions about EVs and dispel some myths along the way.
So whether you’re already driving electric or are just considering it, this guide is for you!
What is an electric vehicle (EV)?
An electric vehicle (EV) is a vehicle that uses an electric motor powered by a battery to move, instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE) fueled by gasoline or diesel. A wide variety of EV options exist, from the standard four-door sedan to hybrid crossover SUVs and even motorbikes.
Unlike traditional, gas-powered cars, EVs have no exhaust system and instead run on recharged battery packs - making them much more eco-friendly modes of transportation. Moreover, thanks to technological advancements in recent years, electric vehicles are now capable of going further distances on a single charge than ever before.
EVs can be divided into three main categories:
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): These vehicles are powered solely by a battery, which is charged by plugging into an external power source. BEVs have no internal combustion engine and produce zero tailpipe emissions.
- Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): These vehicles have an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. They can be powered by electricity from a battery that is charged by plugging into an external power source or by gasoline or diesel from their onboard engine. PHEVs produce fewer emissions than conventional ICE vehicles but still emit some pollutants.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): These vehicles have an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, but the electric motor is not designed to be charged from an external power source. Instead, it is powered by the onboard engine and regenerative braking. HEVs produce fewer emissions than conventional ICE vehicles but still emit some pollutants.
EVs are becoming increasingly popular as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional ICE vehicles. They produce lower emissions and can offer cost savings over time due to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
What is an electric vehicle (EV) charger?
An electric vehicle (EV) charger is a device that charges the battery of an electric vehicle. It is the equivalent of a gas station for gasoline-powered cars. EV chargers are connected to the electric grid and supply electrical energy to the vehicle's battery through a charging port.
There are several types of EV chargers, ranging from Level 1 chargers (which are designed for home use and provide a slower charging speed) to Level 3 chargers (also known as DC fast chargers, which can charge an EV battery to 80% in as little as 20-30 minutes).
EV chargers can be found in various locations, such as private garages, public parking lots, commercial buildings, and along highways. Some EV chargers are free to use, while others require payment through a subscription or a pay-per-use model.
Three Types of EV Charging Stations
There are three primary levels of electric vehicle chargers, each with different charging speeds and electrical requirements.
Level 1 EV Charging Stations
These chargers are the slowest type and are designed to be plugged into a standard 120-volt household electrical outlet. They provide a charging rate of around 2-5 miles of range per hour (depending on the vehicle), meaning it can take up to 20-30 hours to fully charge an EV with a larger battery. Level 1 chargers are typically used for home charging and are included with most EVs.
Level 2 EV Charging Stations
These chargers are faster than Level 1 chargers and require a 240-volt electrical supply, similar to the power used for an electric dryer or oven. Level 2 chargers provide a charging rate of around 10-60 miles of range per hour (depending on the vehicle and charging station), which means that it can take approximately 4-8 hours to fully charge an EV with a larger battery. Level 2 chargers are commonly found in public charging stations, workplaces, and homes with special charging equipment.
Level 3 EV Charging Stations (aka DC Fast Chargers)
These chargers are the fastest type and provide a high-voltage DC charge directly to the vehicle's battery, bypassing the onboard charger. Level 3 chargers can provide a charging rate of around 100-350 miles of range per hour (depending on the vehicle and charging station), which means it can take approximately 20-45 minutes to charge an EV to 80% battery capacity. Level 3 chargers are typically found in public charging stations along highways or major travel routes.
Public charging stations are located in many cities and towns. They usually provide higher power than home chargers but can cost more to use. Some public charging stations are free, while others may require a fee, so check your local area for pricing information before plugging in. In addition, some public charging networks offer subscription-based access to their charger network, allowing users to charge at various locations with one membership.
Overall, the main differences between the three levels of EV chargers are charging speed and electrical requirements. Level 1 chargers are the slowest but require only a standard household electrical outlet. Level 3 chargers are the fastest but require a high-voltage DC electrical supply and specialized charging equipment.
What about Tesla Superchargers?
Tesla Superchargers are a network of special DC Fast Chargers designed to work exclusively with Tesla EVs. They offer up to 250 kilowatts of power for rapid charging, and use a proprietary connector that can only be used on Tesla vehicles. While they are more expensive than other Level 3 chargers, they are often the best option for those who need a fast charge when traveling long distances in their Tesla vehicle.
Types of EV Charging Connectors
Several different types of electric vehicle (EV) charging connectors are used worldwide, and it's important to make sure you have the right type for your vehicle. Here are some of the most common types:
- Type 1 Connector (J1772): This connector is used in North America and Japan for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. It has five pins, two dedicated to AC power and three for communication and safety.
- Type 2 Connector (Mennekes): This connector is used in Europe for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. It has seven pins, three dedicated to AC power, two for DC power (if supported), and two for communication and safety.
- CHAdeMO Connector: This connector is used in Japan and some parts of Europe for Level 3 DC fast charging. It has six pins, with two dedicated to AC power and four for DC power and communication.
- Combined Charging System (CCS) Connector: This connector is used in North America and Europe for Level 3 DC fast charging. It has two parts: a Type 2 connector for AC charging and two additional pins for DC charging.
- Tesla Supercharger Connector: This connector is used exclusively for Tesla vehicles and can provide up to 250 kW of power for Level 3 DC fast charging. It has a unique proprietary design and is not compatible with other EVs.
It's important to note that not all EVs are compatible with all types of charging connectors. Some EVs may require an adapter to use certain charging connectors, and some charging stations may not support all types of connectors. It's also worth noting that the availability of different types of charging connectors can vary by region, so it's important to check compatibility before using a charging station.
Top Companies for EV Chargers
There are many brands of electric vehicle (EV) chargers available in the United States. Some of the most popular brands (in alphabetical order) include:
- Blink: Blink is a popular EV charger provider and an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable yet reliable charging station. They offer several Level 2 charging station options with the SAE J1772 connector, and DC Fast Chargers for commercial use. They also have an app that allows drivers to view their battery percentage, charging speed, total energy delivered, session duration, and estimated cost to reach a full charge.
- Bosch: Bosch offers a range of Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations for residential and commercial use. The company's products are known for their reliability and ease of use, and are made in the USA.
- ChargePoint: ChargePoint is one of the world's largest EV charging infrastructure providers, with a network of over 114,000 charging ports in over 55 countries. The company offers Level 2 and DC fast charging solutions for both public and private use, and they have various subscription plans available to help drivers find a charger when they need it most.
- ClipperCreek: ClipperCreek by Enphase offers a range of Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations for residential and commercial use, and calls itself, “America’s Most Popular EV Charging Station”.
- Emporia: Emporia offers a Level 2 charger that can be connected to their battery backup and energy-monitoring system to provide true ‘off-the-grid’ charging, making them one of the only companies besides Tesla to offer solar-only EV charging.
- EVgo: EVgo offers both home and public charging stations across the US and Canada. With over 850 fast charging stations in more than 60 metropolitan areas, more than 140 million Americans live within 10 miles of an EVgo charger. From Level 1 up to DC Fast Chargers, they have a wide selection of charging options depending on your needs. Even better, all EVgo chargers are powered by 100% renewable energy!
- JuiceBox: JuiceBox by Enel X is one of the most popular providers of EV charging stations, offering Level 1 and Level 2 as well as DC Fast Chargers in both residential and commercial settings. Their smart charging solutions employ advanced algorithms and controls to make your EV charging greener and cheaper, and they’re developing a JuiceNet IoT platform to provide intelligent vehicle chargers and value to EV drivers, businesses, utilities, and automakers.
- Tesla: Tesla chargers are designed to work with the company's own models of vehicles. The company offers a home charging solution called the Wall Connector, which provides Level 2 charging for Tesla vehicles, featuring Wi-Fi connectivity for over-the-air updates, remote diagnostics, and access controls.
- Webasto: Webasto (formerly AeroVironment) offers various charging solutions, including AC and DC charging stations for public and private use, and works with many Original Equipment Manufacturers in the automotive industry to provide their branded chargers.
Questions To Ask When Shopping For An Electric Vehicle Charger
Here are some questions you may want to ask when shopping for an electric vehicle (EV) charger:
- What level of charger do I need? Do I need Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 DC fast charging?
- Is the charger compatible with my EV?
- What is the charging speed of the charger? How long will it take to charge my EV?
- What is the charger's power output? How many amps does it provide?
- Is the charger easy to install? Can I install it myself, or will I need an electrician?
- Is the charger suitable for indoor or outdoor use? Is it weatherproof?
- What is the cost of the charger? Are there any additional fees, such as installation or maintenance fees?
- What kind of features does the charger offer? Does it have a mobile app or Wi-Fi connectivity for remote monitoring and control?
- What is the reputation of the manufacturer or brand? Do they have a track record of producing reliable and high-quality chargers?
- What is the warranty on the charger? How long does it last, and what does it cover?
By asking these questions, you can ensure that you select an EV charger that is compatible with your EV, meets your charging needs, and is reliable and easy to use.
How To Install a Home Electric Vehicle Charger
Installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger at home typically requires the following steps:
- Choose The Correct Charger: First, select an EV charger that is compatible with your vehicle and meets your needs. You will also need to decide on the level of charger you need, such as Level 1, Level 2, or DC fast charging.
- Obtain Permits: Depending on your location, you may need to obtain permits from your local government before installing an EV charger. Check with your local government to see what permits are required, and the application process.
- Select A Location: You will need to choose a place for the charger that is close to your EV's parking spot and has access to a power source. The location should also be convenient for you to access and safe for installation.
- Prepare The Electrical System: Installing an EV charger requires a dedicated electrical circuit, which may require upgrades to your electrical system. You may need an electrician to install the necessary wiring and equipment.
- Install The Charger: Once the electrical system is ready, you can install the charger. The installation process will vary depending on the charger model but typically involves mounting the charger to a wall or pole, connecting the wiring, and configuring the charger settings.
- Test The Charger: After the installation is complete, you should test the charger to ensure it is working correctly and charging your EV at the expected rate.
Overall, installing an EV charger at home can be a complex process that may require professional help. However, with the right equipment and support, it can be a great way to ensure that you always have a convenient and reliable charging option for your EV. That's why companies like Tenet allow you to bundle an EV charger and installation into your auto loan for maximum convenience.
Cost of Installing an Electric Vehicle Charger
The cost of installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger at home can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the type of charger, the complexity of the installation, and the local labor and permit costs. Here are some approximate cost ranges based on different scenarios:
- Level 1 Charger: A Level 1 charger, which uses a standard 120-volt outlet, typically costs between $300 and $600, including installation.
- Level 2 Charger: A Level 2 charger, which requires a dedicated 240-volt circuit, typically costs between $500 and $2,000, including installation. The installation cost can vary widely depending on the complexity of the electrical work required.
- DC Fast Charger: A DC fast charger, which can charge an EV to 80% in 30 minutes or less, can cost $10,000 or more, including installation. These chargers are typically installed in commercial settings, like gas stations or shopping centers.
It's worth noting that there may be additional costs for permits, electrical upgrades, or other equipment needed for the installation. Additionally, some utility companies offer rebates or other incentives to help offset the cost of installing an EV charger. It's always a good idea to get multiple quotes from licensed electricians and to check with your local government and utility company to see what incentives are available.
Can you charge your electric vehicle with solar power?
Yes, it's possible to charge your electric vehicle with solar power! In fact, this is becoming an increasingly popular option for EV owners who want to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decrease their carbon footprint.
With a solar panel installation on top of your home or carport, you can capture the sun's energy and use it as a renewable source of electricity for your EV.
Two Ways to Power an EV Charger with Solar Energy
- Direct Solar Power: A solar panel system can be installed directly on your property to generate electricity from the sun, which can then be used to power your EV charger. This requires an appropriate number of solar panels and an inverter to convert the solar energy into usable electricity.
- Grid-Tied Solar Power: This involves connecting your solar panel system to the grid, and using net metering (where available) to offset your electricity usage. With net metering, any excess solar energy generated during the day can be fed back into the grid and credited to your account, which can then be used to power your EV charger at night.
It's important to note that powering your EV charger with solar energy may require a larger solar panel system than you would need for powering your home alone, especially if you plan to drive a lot or have multiple EVs in your household. Additionally, the cost of installing a solar panel system large enough to charge multiple EVs can be high. However, lower energy bills and potential tax credits or incentives may offset fueling costs over time.
Keep in mind that the amount of time it takes to fully charge your EV depends on how many panels you have - if your system is too small, charging may take longer than other methods, or you may need to pull extra power from the grid to charge your EV and power your home.
Powering your EV charger with solar energy can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your overall energy costs, while also providing the convenience of charging your EV at home.
To find out what size system is right for you, contact a Palmetto Solar Expert today and let us design a solar power system that aligns with the needs of your electric vehicle, and can charge it with clean, green energy.
Charge Times for Common Electric Vehicles
The charge times for electric vehicles (EVs) vary depending on several factors, including the type of charging station used, the size of the vehicle's battery, and the current state of charge.
Here are some estimated charge times for common EVs:
Tesla Model 3
- Level 1 Charger: About 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 60-70 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model 3 with a standard range battery, and about 80-90 hours for a long range battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 25-30 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 8-10 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model 3 with a standard range battery, and about 11-12 hours for a long range battery.
- Tesla Supercharger: About 170 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. It takes about 40-45 minutes to charge a Tesla Model 3 from 10% to 80% using a Supercharger.
Tesla Model S
- Level 1 Charger: About 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 75-85 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model S with a 100 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 25-30 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 12-13 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model S with a 100 kWh battery.
- Tesla Supercharger: About 170 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. It takes about 45-50 minutes to charge a Tesla Model S from 10% to 80% using a Supercharger.
Tesla Model Y
- Level 1 Charger: About 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 60-70 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model Y with a standard range battery, and about 80-90 hours for a long range battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 25-30 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 8-10 hours to fully charge a Tesla Model Y with a standard range battery, and about 11-12 hours for a long range battery.
- Tesla Supercharger: About 170 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. It takes about 40-45 minutes to charge a Tesla Model Y from 10% to 80% using a Supercharger.
- Level 1 Charger: About 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 70-90 hours to fully charge an Audi e-tron with a 95 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 20-25 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 10-12 hours to fully charge an Audi e-tron with a 95 kWh battery.
- DC Fast Charger: About 45-60 minutes to charge an Audi e-tron from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
- Level 1 Charger: About 4 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 58 hours to fully charge a Chevy Bolt EV with a 66 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 25 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 9.5 hours to fully charge a Chevy Bolt EV with a 66 kWh battery.
- DC Fast Charger: About 45 minutes to charge a Chevy Bolt EV from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Level 1 Charger: About 3-4 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 60-80 hours to fully charge a Mustang Mach-E with a 75.7 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 22-30 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 8-11 hours to fully charge a Mustang Mach-E with a 75.7 kWh battery.
- DC Fast Charger: About 45-60 minutes to charge a Mustang Mach-E from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.
- Level 1 Charger: About 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 20-26 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery, or about 35-40 hours for a Leaf with a 62 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 20-25 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 8-10 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery, or about 12-15 hours for a Leaf with a 62 kWh battery.
- DC Fast Charger: About 40 minutes to charge a Nissan Leaf from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.
- Level 1 Charger: About 3-4 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 87-116 hours to fully charge a Volkswagen ID.4 with a 82 kWh battery.
- Level 2 Charger: About 20-25 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes about 8-10 hours to fully charge a Volkswagen ID.4 with a 82 kWh battery.
- DC Fast Charger: About 38-48 minutes to charge a Volkswagen ID.4 from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.
It's important to note that these are estimated charge times, and actual charge times may vary depending on factors such as outside temperature, battery age and condition, charging rate, and charging station availability.
Where can I find EV charging stations?
Finding a public charging station for electric vehicles is becoming more accessible and more convenient every day. Many retail stores, cafes, and other businesses now offer EV charging stations - just look for the distinctive green signs that denote the presence of electric vehicle charging on the premises.
Additionally, there are numerous apps and websites that can help you find public charging stations near your location, such as PlugShare, ChargeFinder, ChargeHub, and even the US Department of Energy.
Finally, many vehicles now include EV charging stations in their built-in GPS maps. Some will even allow you to check the status of that charging station remotely to confirm that it’s open and available.
Tips for Charging Your EV Efficiently and Safely
Charging your electric vehicle doesn't have to be intimidating. You can do a few simple things to ensure the process is done efficiently and safely.
First, check the cables you use to charge the EV for any fraying or damage. If those components appear in less-than-perfect condition, it's best to replace them before charging, or use a different public charging station.
Once you know all parts are in good shape, plug your charger into the outlet before you connect it to your car. This eliminates the chance of shorting out any circuits.
When charging is complete, always remember to unplug your charger from the car before disconnecting it from the wall outlet.
Taking every precaution while charging can help ensure you stay safe while using an EV charger, and don’t run into any unexpected dangers.
What should you do if your EV runs out of charge on the road?
If you find yourself stuck with a dead battery while driving your electric vehicle, don't panic! One of the first and best steps you can take is to contact roadside assistance. They can get a tow service on their way (if necessary) and provide advice on how best to proceed.
While you wait for roadside assistance, review your EV's owner manual for additional safety and emergency procedures that can help if such an incident happens again.
Are there any government incentives available for EV owners in the United States?
Electric vehicle (EV) ownership has grown significantly in the US recently, prompting government action to encourage further EV adoption. Incentives for EV owners vary between country, state/province, and even local governments but generally include tax credits, rebates, and exemptions from certain taxes or fees.
For example, the US Federal Government offers a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 per vehicle depending on battery capacity. It's worth researching your region to find out which incentives you could be eligible for - after all, who wouldn't love to save money when driving an environmentally-friendly vehicle?
Several government incentives are available for EV chargers in the United States, including:
- Federal Tax Credit: The federal government offers a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of purchasing and installing an EV charger, with a maximum credit of $1,000 for residential installations and $30,000 for commercial installations.
- State and Local Incentives: Many states and local governments offer incentives for installing EV chargers, such as rebates, grants, or tax credits. These incentives vary by location, so it's important to check with your state and local governments to see what is available.
- Utility Programs: Some utilities offer programs that provide rebates or other incentives for installing EV chargers. These programs may also offer discounted electricity rates for charging during off-peak hours.
- Workplace Charging: The federal government also offers a tax credit of up to $1,000 per charging station for businesses that install EV chargers for their employees.
It's important to note that these incentives may change over time and have specific eligibility requirements, so it's always a good idea to check with the appropriate government agencies or utility companies to see what is currently available. Additionally, some incentives may require pre-approval or documentation, so review all requirements carefully before purchasing.
Electric Vehicle Charger Guide
EVs are a great alternative to gas-powered vehicles, and they're only getting better as technology improves. With so many benefits, it's no wonder that EV ownership is on the rise!
Charging an EV doesn't have to be a complicated process - with the correct charger and cable, you can easily charge your car at home or on the go. Whether it's a public or home charger, many options are available to suit your needs. And with the increased convenience and decreased charging station costs, it's now easier than ever to switch to electric.
Charging your EV correctly is important for both efficiency and safety, so make sure you research what type of charger you need, and find out how to use it correctly.
And finally, remember that government incentives are available in the United States if you decide to buy an EV and install an EV charger, so you can save even more money when you make the switch.
If you decide to take advantage of all that EV ownership has to offer, your wallet - and our planet - will thank you!