EV Charging 101

We’ve been getting quite a few questions about charging so we thought we’d answer the most common ones right here on the blog! Check it out.

How do I charge an EV?

Charging and fueling electric vehicles is different than using gasoline, but it is still easy and achievable. You simply pull up, open the charge port and plug in. (Check out our Facebook page for a live video demonstration.)

All electric vehicles have a mobile charging adapter that plugs in to a common 120 V outlet. Others may choose to install fixed charging equipment at their home or work since most electric vehicles are charged at home. Convenience is a key advantage to electric vehicles. The workplace is the second most popular place to charge.

A faster charge can be obtained by upgrading your home to a 240 V level 2 charging station. Talk to your car dealer for details regarding charging needs for your specific vehicle.

You will also want to consult with a qualified electrician regarding any upgrades to your electric equipment and be sure to contact Stearns Electric (or your utility if you’re not a Stearns Electric member) if you are looking to install any chargers that have a higher electric demand.

Is plugging in a hassle?

Not at all – it takes less than five seconds, and there’s no going out of your way to a gas station, jockeying for a pump and getting toxic gasoline on your hands. You can charge anywhere there is an electric outlet. Most electric vehicle drivers plug in when they get home though because it’s most convenient.

How do I charge my electric vehicle when I’m not at home? Where else can I charge it?

If your vehicle is capable of charging at 120 volts, you will be able to plug your vehicle into any standard outlet for charging while away from home (assuming you can get permission to plug in your vehicle from the outlet owner).

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have gasoline engines, so you can always buy gasoline as you ordinarily do to extend the range of your vehicle.

With battery electric vehicles, to avoid inconveniences, you will want to fully charge your vehicle before you leave home, especially if the round trip you are taking is close to the range of the vehicle. If the trip is longer than the range of the vehicle you will need to plan where you will be able to recharge your vehicle. There are a number of online, interactive map services that help you locate charging stations on the go.

How long does it take to charge?

The true answer is: it depends. The actual charging time depends on the size of your battery, how far you have driven and the amperage of the charging system. For most electric vehicle owners, charging overnight at home is the cheapest and most convenient option and it’s likely the battery will not be empty when you plug in, just like your cell phone. 

What is the difference between Level 1, Level 2  and DC (Fast/Super) charging?

  • LEVEL 1
    Charging a vehicle at “Level 1” means plugging into a standard 120 volt outlet. All drivers can charge their EV at Level 1 and this requires no extra equipment or installation. On average, a full charging time is about 8 hours – but that varies by model.
  • LEVEL 2
    Charging a vehicle at “Level 2” means plugging into a 240 volt outlet. Home owners may decide to install a charging station – also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) – in their home. This requires professional installation and an outlet type commonly utilized by home appliances like refrigerators and dryers. There are also many Level 2 chargers across the United States in public areas. On average, full charging time varies from 2 to 6 hours, but times vary by model.

  • Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging
    Fast chargers are only really available as an option for public charging and are often installed along transportation corridors. This is similar technology to Tesla Superchargers. A fast charger can charge an electric vehicle about 50% in 20 minutes.

Hopefully this is a great start to the electric vehicle charging conversation. We’ll share a little more about the options for public fast charging later in the trip, so stay tuned.

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