EV Charging 101
Charging Speeds | Charging Costs | Charging Connectors | Charging Tips | Charging Resources
Imagine never needing to stop at a gas station again. For many electric vehicle (EV) drivers, this is a reality! Electric vehicles — both battery (BEV) and fuel cell (FCEV) electric vehicles — never need gas. For shorter commutes, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) might not even use gas at all.
Electric vehicle charging is simple, cost-effective and convenient, especially since you can charge up right at home. The act of charging your EV is as simple as the act of charging your phone. Learn the basics of EV charging and find tips to improve your charging experience below
How long will it take to charge my EV?
Exact charging speed is determined by three factors: The capacity of your EV’s on-board charger, the charging equipment’s power level and the ambient temperature. The length of time to charge up fully at each power level also depends on your EV battery size.
Batteries work best when it’s not too hot or too cold. When any battery charges, it generates heat — just feel your phone when it’s plugged in! Your EV is set to automatically protect the vehicle’s battery from overheating, so if the battery temperature gets too hot during charging, the EV’s internal battery management system will slow down the charging speed to adjust. Check out a side-by side breakdown of the different power levels and charging speeds below.
Today, new electric vehicles come prepared with a portable level 1 charger allowing you to easily plug in on the go to standard 120-volt outlets. Unlike higher levels of charging, which require higher voltage outlets to plug into, these level 1 chargers allow you to charge up your EV from the comfort of your home without any additional electrical installations.
The average daily commute of 40 miles should fully recharge overnight, making level 1 charging perfect for those who often don’t need to do much daily driving.
Level 2 charging equipment is available in many public areas where vehicles are parked for a significant amount of time — like workplaces, malls and shopping centers. You can also invest in a level 2 home charger that uses a 208 – 240 volt outlet to support the higher powered charging equipment. This may require electrical work to install that higher voltage outlet in a convenience place for charging at your home.
The same 40 mile average daily commute should be replenished in under 2 hours with level 2 charging.
DC Fast Charging
Direct connect (DC) fast chargers rely on a larger electric grid connection, which delivers power directly to the vehicle, as opposed to Level 1 and 2 chargers which have to convert the current to a lower power level before entering the vehicle. This direct connection results in a much faster and more powerful charge that provides a whopping 10 – 20 miles of range per minute.
DC fast charging occurs at public and workplace charging stations only and is not available for use at home. Today, most battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are already equipped to handle DC fast charging technology, but always check your vehicle’s charging connector before you plug in.
How much will charging my EV cost?
The cost of charging an electric vehicle depends on many different factors, primarily on where you charge and the time of day that you choose to charge at since the price of electricity varies throughout the day. Overall though, charging your EV is significantly less money than filling up a gasoline car.
To better understand the long-term fuel savings of an EV compared with a gas-powered car, check out the US Department of Energy calculator tool for charging costs in California and beyond.
While electricity prices can vary, the price in California averages to roughly 18 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
At this price, charging an electric vehicle with a 40 kWh battery and an average driving range of 150-mile — like the Nissan Leaf — would only cost about $7 to fully charge at home.
Drivers in California may expect to pay 30 cents per kWh when using a level 2 public charger and 40 cents per kWh using public DC fast charging.
At these rates, the same Nissan LEAF with a 150-mile range and 40-kWh battery, would cost about $12.00 to fully charge using level 2 charging and $16.00 using DC fast charging.
Interested in home charging? Compare home chargers and discover home charging incentives available to you.
What are the types of EV charging connectors?
You’ll need to know which charging connector your EV uses to find the right charging station and adapter to use to properly charge up your vehicle. Today, most battery electric vehicles are already equipped to handle DC fast charging technology, but always check your vehicle’s charging connector before you plug in. There are three main DC fact charging connector types: CHAdeMO, CCS and Tesla.
Understanding the maximum power level that your EV can safely charge at and the power of the charger you plug into is important to ensure the smoothest charging experience. Discover more quick tips to improve your charging experience here.
Level 2 Chargers
DC Fast Chargers
The level 2 J1772 type charger is a 240-volt charger. Although level 2 chargers do boast faster charging speeds than level 1 chargers, they are still slower to fully charge than DC fast chargers.
Because level 2 chargers require more time to charge up your EV, they are primarily intended for use while you are charging at home or at work.
Standing for “Charge de Move,” CHAdeMO was designed by a collection of automaker industry groups, primarily in Japan.
Manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi tend to use the CHAdeMO standard.
Designed as an “open industry standard,” vehicle manufacturers around the world use the Combined Charging System or CCS connector.
They are most often associated with North American and European automakers though. In North America, soon all newly manufactured passenger EVs (excluding Tesla) will use this connector.
Tesla connectors are found exclusively in — you guessed it — Tesla vehicles. Since Tesla was one of the first EVs on the market with fast charging, they designed their own connector type.
Tesla does sell adapters that support charging at non-Tesla specific level 1, level 2 and DC fast chargers.
What are the types of EV charging adapters?
Adapters are devices that enable charging from one connector type to another connector type. There are two adapter types that are fully tested and approved. The first is the level 2 “J1772-to-Tesla” adapter and the second is the “CHAdeMO-to-Tesla” adapter.
Although there are several types of connectors, there are few adapters on the market, largely because adapters often are not recommended for use. This is because adapters add an extra layer in the electric connection between the EV and the charger, which can increase the likelihood of electrical faults and can negatively impact functional safety over time. EVgo is the first public fast charging network to offer native compatibility with Tesla vehicles at their chargers, so your Tesla won’t need to use an adapter when you charge at EVgo stations.
Improve your — and everyone else’s — charging experience
To prolong the battery life of your EV, you want to make sure to take good care of it. A new electric vehicle with a range of 250-miles is expected to have a 150-to-200-mile range after 12 years of service. Like other types of batteries, EV batteries do degrade over time, though the good news is that they will often outlast the natural life of your vehicle!
By taking a few extra steps to reduce unnecessary wear and tear, you can extend your battery’s lifespan even further and make your charging experience even smoother. Below are a few easy ways to get the most out of your electric vehicle’s battery.
Limit quick charging usage.
Using quick charge on your EV is a great way to get a charge fast when you need it, however for every time you use quick charge, a little bit of life drains away from the battery, especially in extreme cold temperatures. Cutting back on how often you use quick charging will prolong your EV battery’s life in the long run.
Start recharging your EV when it hits 30% instead of 0%.
Letting your EV battery fall completely to 0% before recharging will eventually reduce your EV’s overall battery life. Instead, try to start recharging your battery once it hits the 30% charged mark.
Aim for charging up to 80% instead of 100% full.
With the lithium-ion batteries in EVs, charging up to about 80% full helps to maintain your battery’s max capacity more than charging up to 100%. Charging a bit under 100% allows plenty of battery space for the energy produced by your EV’s regenerative braking, which converts the kinetic energy from braking into usable energy that helps power your vehicle.
Share and share alike!
Charging infrastructure continues to expand. In the meantime though, electric vehicle drivers can help make existing charging infrastructure more accessible by sharing available EV chargers and educating other drivers about charging etiquette.
Learn more about best practices and standard charging etiquette here.
Want More Charging Options?
Check Out Home Charging
All homes already have 120-volt plugs to enable level 1 charging, however, most EV drivers enjoy the convenience of a quicker charging experience and choose to install a higher voltage outlet to support a level 2 charger at home. Tesla vehicles come equipped with a level 1/level 2 charger already, which requires a 240-volt outlet that may need to be professionally installed. You can search through available level 2 home chargers and learn more about home charging incentives using ElectricForAll.org’s Home Charging Advisor.
Learn More About Public Charging
Never fear! There are many great charging station locators and mobile apps that help to locate public charging stations when and where you need it. You can safely anticipate having access to public charging in parking lots and garages at malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, community centers, arenas, hotels and airports.
Check with your EV’s manufacturer and driving manual to find the correct charging options for your vehicle. Some charging networks require a subscription to charge, so look ahead to see what’s available to meet your unique needs before taking off on a long road trip.
Find a public EV charging station near you!
If charging at home is not a viable option where you live, or if you just want to “top off” during the day, workplace charging is another convenient option to charge your EV. Many workplaces are already opting to install charging stations, so check with your company to see if this is available to you. If your place of work doesn’t provide charging yet, below are a few resources showing the benefits that you can use to advocate on behalf of adding workplace charging.
If you are a city or county interested in adding public chargers to your area, check out the EV charging station streamlined permitting process video and resources to learn more about how you can increase charging accessibility in your local community.
See how easy it is to charge? Compare EVs to find out more about range.