Car Charging Basics
For most drivers, charging an electric car is as simple as charging a cell phone. In fact, it usually takes only around 5 seconds of your time to “refuel” your electric car. Why? Because most charging (over 85%, according to EV driver polling) happens at home, overnight, while the driver sleeps. You just plug in your car when you get home and it’s typically re-charged back to full before you even wake up the next morning. It’s the car that “refuels” while you sleep! There are three levels of charging rate to choose from, depending upon your needs and lifestyle.
LEVEL 1 CHARGING
Examples: home overnight
In many cases, all you need is the included charging adapter and a standard outlet (also known as Level 1 charging) to recharge for the daily range you need – no “charging station” required! The adapter comes with a cord and charger head that plugs into your EV. Once it is initially set up it is always ready and on standby, and then it only takes a few seconds to plug it in to your car in each night. It really is that easy! Level 1 works best for plug-in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) with small batteries, and/or people who do not drive much each day, as it adds range of between 3 and 6 miles per hour of charging, or up to around 50 miles overnight.
LEVEL 2 CHARGING
Examples: home, workplace, destination
A Level 2 charging system consists of a 240 volt wiring circuit from your house electrical panel to a either a NEMA 14-50 outlet (much like the outlet into which you’d plug an electric stove or clothes dryer), or hard-wired to a wall-mounted EV charging station. The most common type of charging both private and public, Level 2 adds up to 70 miles of range per hour, depending upon the vehicle and station type. This means that even the longest range electric cars will always get a full charge overnight using properly matched Level 2 equipment. Level 2 charging equipment can be purchased for as little as $200. The installation may only require minor work by an electrician or may require some upgrades to your panel or wiring. Check out our Home Installation Help section and FAQS to learn more.
LEVEL 3 CHARGING
Examples: highway rest stop, community hubAlso known as public DC Fast Charging, Quick charging, and Supercharging, Level 3 adds hundreds of miles of range per hour of charging. Therefore, most charging stops would be only minutes at a time. For example, depending on model and station some vehicles are already capable of adding 180 miles of range in under 30 minutes, and the next generation of vehicles (2020) and chargers will cut that charging time to less than half, or around 200 miles in just 10 minutes! Many new fast charging sites are being added every year. To get a handy online map and mobile app to find charging station near you, visit PlugShare or install their mobile app.
About Public Charging Equipment and Networks
Charging in public can be a positive experience with a little bit of research and preparation in advance. There are many brands and models of public charging units, as well many different charging networks both nationally and regionally. There are basically two types of stations:
- Smart charging stations, also known as networked charging stations or connected stations. This typically require either membership, a card, or an app to access. They may or may not have a fee.
- Non-networked charging stations. These do not require any membership to activate, and usually are free and just connect when you plug in, or may require an access code.
Finding out in advance (for example by using PlugShare or another online resource or app) can help you explore what public charging is near you and get any advance set up out of the way from the comfort of home.