How to buy, install and use an electric car charger

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Charging an electric car may seem as simple as plugging in a big cable and then waiting patiently, but there’s more to these high-tech, eco-friendly vehicles.

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When charging your electric car, you’ll want to consider what type of charger you’ll need, as well as plan to budget both your time and money.

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Should you get an electric car? Here are some pros and cons

Our guide below will walk you through the basics, plus we’ll look at some of the factors that may be the big decision-makers for you, such as convenience and cost. Let’s see.

how to charge electric car
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Electric cars, as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), have an access port with a unique receptacle. They come with a basic, 110-volt cable from the factory that connects the vehicle to a typical home-style three-prong outlet. It’s a good starting point, but a typical driver will want the faster charging times provided by a 240-volt charger.

Charging times vary by vehicle and battery capacity, but it’s generally safe to say that 110-volt charging is best for occasional use. Most current-model EVs will take more than 24 hours to charge from a home outlet, and they rarely add up to more than a few miles per hour.

A better solution is what is commonly known as a Level 2 charger. These run anywhere from about $200 to $700, and they plug into 240-volt outlets such as those used by electric clothes dryers. An electrician can usually connect this type of outlet to a private home for use in a garage or driveway. Most public charging stations — which you can find in shopping centers and business parks — also have level 2 chargers.

At home, these Level 2 chargers can usually charge a nearly depleted battery overnight. At the very least, they’ll add enough juice in a few hours to handle a typical commute.

SeeWhat you need to know about charging your electric car every night

Finally, Level 3 public chargers (known as DC fast chargers, or DCFCs) can add up to 20 miles per minute, but they use a tremendous amount of electricity and are not practical for residential application. Additionally, relying on these chargers on a regular basis can lead to premature battery damage.

Automakers agree that Level 2 charging is best for long-term battery health.

How to put a charger in your home

If 110 volt charging is enough for you, all you need is a power outlet where you plan to store your electric car. Electric cars will take every bit of that 110-volt outlet, however, so you don’t want to use an extension cord, and it’s best to make sure no larger appliances share the same circuit.

Even something that doesn’t seem like it will draw much power — a sprinkler system panel, for example — can draw enough to trip a fuse, which can both your irrigation system and your EV charger. will stop. An electrician can tell you which outlets are in the same circuit.

Most EV drivers will buy a Level 2 charger. State and local utilities often subsidize the cost of one of these, or even pay for it in full, so it’s worth investigating. Sometimes, automakers will also run promotions where a Level 2 charger is included with purchase, or you can ask if the dealership offers a discount through their subsidiary. If not, you can buy a higher quality level 2 charger for around $250.

monitor your charging

Basic chargers essentially serve as a filter between the 240-volt outlet and the vehicle. They have lights to let you know when the car is being charged and will usually let you know when its battery is full. More advanced chargers will connect to a smartphone app or even have their own touchscreen that allows you to program charging times or see how much energy you’ve used.

Almost all electric cars have smartphone apps supported by their manufacturers that provide control over similar data and charging times, so you’ll have to consider which interface you prefer.

Some new garages are built with electric cars in mind, so you may already have a 240 volt outlet. If not, an electrician can usually install one for a few hours of labor and relatively low material costs. Every home and garage is different, so we recommend getting a quote from some electrician. In some cases, the electrician may determine the need to upgrade your fuse panel to add a circuit to support the larger power draw.

The 240-volt outlets used by the EV charger are the same as those used for clothes dryers, but you wouldn’t want both on the same circuit.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

There’s no easy answer to this. Factors including a car’s onboard charging infrastructure and battery capacity make a huge difference in charging times. Automakers explicitly list charging time estimates by type of charger. However, although they typically use ultra-fast Level 3 charging in their advertising and marketing materials.

When it comes to Level 2 charging, the general rule is that a typical 60-kWh battery takes about eight hours to recharge when it’s almost depleted.

That said, driving an EV does take a bit of adjustment as it will need to call a tow truck to drain the battery. Generally, drivers will not want to go below the 20% fee. Not only does it provide a small buffer to help ensure you can reach the charging point quickly, but it’s also best for the health of the battery. Likewise, battery experts generally recommend charging up to 80% unless you absolutely know you’ll need every bit of the range available. That last 20% charge requires an exorbitant amount of energy, generating a lot of heat which is bad for the battery.

In short, an EV battery operates at its optimum between 20% and 80% charge.

If you want to learn more about how to maintain your car battery, read our EV Battery Maintenance Guide.

electric car charging chart

Here’s a look at some of the most popular and best-known EV models on the market, including their battery capacity, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-rated range, and estimated charging times on Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, as well as on Level 3 chargers Recommended 80% capacity.


battery capacity

EPA Range

level 1

level 2

Level 3 (from 10% to 80%)

2022 Nissan Leaf

40 kW

149 miles

35 hours

7.5 hours

40 minutes

2022 Nissan Leaf Plus

62 kWh

226 miles

not rated

11.5 hours

45 minutes

2022 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

82 kW

358 miles

not rated

11.25 hours

34 minutes

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric

64 kW

258 miles

not rated

9.25 hours

47 minutes

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV

65 kW

259 miles

4 mph

7 hours

60 minutes

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD

82 kW

260 miles

50 hours

7.5 hours

38 minutes

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

It is difficult to calculate EV charging cost based on a variety of variables. One thing is certain, though: For the average user pulling power at home from a general utility provider, an EV will cost far less to charge and drive on a per-mile basis than a gas or diesel model.

The EPA designed a unit of measurement to compare the energy consumption level of an electric car to that of a gas-powered vehicle. Called MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent, this figure assumes that 33.7 kWh of electricity is equivalent to one gallon of fuel in terms of its energy content. When cross-shopping EVs, you can view MPGE statistics to determine who uses their energy most efficiently.

To determine how much it will actually cost to charge an EV at home, check your household electric utility bill. Your utility provider typically charges a base rate plus a per kWh rate.

learn more: How much does it cost to charge an electric car? we do math

How to Calculate Charging Cost

Let’s use simple, round numbers for the basic estimation. If your electricity provider charges you $0.20 per kWh and you know your EV needs 30 kWh to travel 100 miles, you can determine that you need $6 worth of electricity (30kWh x $0.20). , which equates to approximately $0.06 per mile (100/$6). ) A car that averages 25 mpg will use $12 worth of petrol (at $3 a gallon). Overall, this works out to double the price of that theoretical EV.

EPA has a . Made it detailed cost calculator Which takes into account the broad average on a state-by-state basis. However, this is not necessary for a tight budget as fuel and electricity rates can vary. But, it is a good comparison tool for buyers who are either considering an EV or trying to decide between the two models.

Public charging stations typically require a free (or nominal cost) subscription, and they charge per-kilowatt rates that are way higher than what you’d typically use at home. However, their convenience can be invaluable.

this story originally ran,


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