EV & Plug-in Hybrid Charging, in a nutshell...
Both electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles require an EV charger to keep the battery full, just like any chargeable device or electronic.
In many ways, charging an EV is more convenient than gasing up. Gasing up at the gas station is a dirty and costly event that needs to be scheduled. Charging your EV or Plug-in Hybrid is quick, clean and easy from the comfort of your own garage, work or place of business such as a grocery store while you're shopping or the gym while you're working out. In fact, you can even view the status of your EV charging from an App, while you're shopping!
Today's EV's have a typical range between 50 to 310 miles which is suitable for the average daily commute or errands around town. The fact is, the majority of EV charging is done from the comfort of your home, work or local place of business and less frequently is there a need to find a dedicated charging station.
Whether you're traveling locally, or on a longer journey, public EV charging stations are becoming a more common sight. Even if you don't encounter a charging location while you're out and about, most EVs allow you to quickly navigate to a nearby charging station! If your EV doesn't have the convenience of built in navigation, there are plenty of Apps available for your smartphone. In addition, some of these Apps allow you to entirely plan your trip and waypoints before you leave home.
A closer look at the details of Charging...
Currently there are 3 Levels of charging known as Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3 Charging.
Generally speaking, the pre-owned EV or Plug-in Hybrid you purchase will come with at least a Level 1 charging cable. If it doesn't, then simply order one from the car manufacturer or from an aftermarket supplier.
LEVEL 1 CHARGING
When you plug an electric car into a standard 120-volt household power outlet, you get Level 1 charging. This makes it by far the most accessible type of charging. Most garages have a power outlet, and all electric cars come with a basic charging cord to make use of it.
However, it’s the slowest form of charging available, capable of replenishing only 3-5 miles of range per hour of charging. This makes it best suited for plug-in hybrid owners whose vehicles could be fully recharged in less than 8 hours, or for fully electric vehicles if your daily commute doesn't take you far. As an example, from empty, it would take over 40 hours to completely recharge a Chevy Bolt EV. That’s where Level 2 comes in.
LEVEL 2 CHARGING
Level 2 charging uses 240-volt power, the same as what’s used for high-power appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, and air-conditioners. While it’s becoming common for new houses to come with optional 240v power in garages specifically for electric vehicle charging, most existing homes do not have it set up.
Electric vehicle owners usually have an Electrician run a 240-volt line into their garage, where they can connect Level 2 electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE), which is the proper (fancy) name for electric vehicle charging units.
Level 2 charging at home is enough for the vast majority of an electric vehicle driver’s regular needs. The same Chevy Bolt that takes over 40 hours to charge at Level 1 can take less than 10 hours to charge at Level 2. And that’s a full charge from empty – most people don’t put over 200 miles on their car in a day, so it regularly takes less time than that. You top off your charge every day, instead of filling up from empty.
Level 2 charging is also what’s available at most public chargers, installed at places like grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels. They’re convenient to keep your car charged while you’re out and about and away from home.
They don’t cut it when it comes to longer road trips though. That’s where Level 3, or DC fast charging comes in.
LEVEL 3 CHARGING
Level 3 chargers essentially send DC electricity straight from the power grid into an electric car’s battery. This allows them to bypass the car’s built-in charging limit and supply a huge amount of electricity in a short amount of time. Drivers can get recharged and back on the road in 30 minutes or less, making Level 3 charging an ideal solution for road trips.
Tesla’s Supercharger are the most well-known and well-established group of Level 3 chargers but are limited exclusively to Tesla vehicles. Other groups, like Electrify America, Chargepoint, EVgo and Blink are working on building out their own networks of Level 3 chargers to make road trips easier for other electric vehicle drivers.
Fast charging is a crucial element of electric vehicle infrastructure. Tesla and other companies continue to invest in the technology to further reduce the amount of time it takes to charge a car. Electric car ownership will only get better as time goes on.
Level 3 charging should not be considered for daily charging needs, as regular DC charging use can reduce the life of the battery. Additionally, stopping at a Level 3 charging is less convenient than charging at home.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU!
Here’s a quick breakdown of how long it takes to charge three popular battery electric vehicles at the aforementioned levels.
Thankfully there are a number of apps and websites out there to help drivers out when they need to charge.
PlugShare and ChargeHub are apps that allow users to share locations of public electric vehicle chargers and update their status – if they’re occupied or need maintenance. PlugShare even allows users to make their home charger available to other drivers.
Tesla has a trip planner built into navigation systems that will automatically plan a route to faraway destinations that includes Supercharger stops.
Chargeway is another mobile app that has a somewhat different approach. It simplifies plugs and charging levels into colors and numbers. It also has an in-built trip planner that will plan your stops according to what electric vehicle you’re charging.
A Better Route Planner is a similar online app that can be used for other electric vehicles, planning stops at public Level 3 chargers.
By arming you with the ability to find a plug anywhere you go, these tools make it even easier to drive electric.
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