Charging Electric Vehicles at Home
Unlike regular cars, electric vehicle car owners can recharge their vehicles at home. All you need to do is simply pull into the garage and plug it into a power source. You can use a standard wall outlet — though it might take a while to fully charge. You can also install an EV wall charger for a much quicker charge. All electric vehicles normally come with a 110-volt compatible home connector kit, which you can use to plug your car into the wall.
Home or residential charging is inexpensive and convenient, as most plug-in electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles up to 80% at home. You can even take advantage of low, stable residential electricity rates when you charge in a single-family home. Charging in a multi-family residential complex, on the other hand, can be complex and quite similar to using a public EV charging station.
The Cost of Charging Your EV at Home
All EVs, including yours, come with a means for connecting them to the power grid. Essentially, a charging station that converts AC current into DC is built into the vehicle, making it easy to charge your vehicle at home. In general, the costs for fully charging an EV throughout the year are lower than those for gasoline vehicles.
The national average cost for fully charging the depleted battery of an EV with a mileage of 100 miles is 12.6 cents/kWh. Interestingly, the cost is about the same as what it takes to operate an average central AC for just six hours. Since plug-in hybrid EVs have smaller batteries, each charge costs even less.
Comparing this number to the cost of running a conventional gasoline car for over a year, you can see that the difference is substantial. Regular conventional retail gasoline prices in the U.S. have fluctuated from about $2 to $4, and for an average household, the annual budget for refueling a regular gasoline vehicle can cost up to $1,500. But for an EV owner, who charges mainly at night, the average cost to charge per year is significantly lower — especially if your utility company offers special rates at off-peak periods.
Equipment for Charging at Home
There are two options for home charging: You can either use the relatively simple Level 1 electric vehicle supply equipment (EV charger) or the complex Level 2 EV charger, which is slightly more complex.
When you charge with Level 2 EV charger, the process is faster and more convenient. However, it requires special equipment, which is a bit more expensive to install than Level 1. For both types of EV charger, the charging cord can be stored securely to avoid damaging them; also check the accessible EV charger parts from time to time for wear.
To be on the safe side, it is better to consult with an EV manufacturer for guidance and information about the ideal equipment for charging. It is important to understand the specifications for your EV before purchasing any equipment or paying for electric services. Before installing an EV charger or modifying your home's electrical system, you should seek professional advice — check with your local utility provider or a trusted electrical contractor.
How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car?
Wondering how long it takes to charge an electric car? Typically, this depends on the type of EV charger you`re using. Level 1 and Level 2 EV charger provide different amounts of voltage, and as such, take different amounts of time to charge your EV.
Level 1 EV charger
Level 1 EV charger charging equipment provides power supply through a 120V AC plug. For every one hour of charging with Level 1 EV charger, you get an additional 2 to 5 miles of range in your vehicle. This is suitable for plug-in hybrid EVs and a number of EVs.
Charging with Level 1 EV charger basically requires a dedicated branch circuit and an outlet. It does not require any other special charging equipment. As a caution, ensure that the outlet into which you're plugging your electric vehicle is not supplying any other appliance, such as refrigerators and lights. Besides this, charging is easy as a connector is included in the purchase of your EV.
Level 2 EV charger
Unlike Level 1 EV charger, Level 2 EVSE charges your EV through a 240V AC plug. This means more power supply, shorter charging time, and more mileage per charge. For every one hour of Level 2 charging, your EV gets an additional 10-60 miles of range. This makes it suitable for all types of electric vehicles.
The cost of charging with Level 2 residential EV charger ranges from $500 to $2,000. This is before installation and state or utility incentives, and it may vary. To use Level 2 EVSE, drivers must install special charging equipment besides having a dedicated electrical circuit supplying between 20-100 amps of current. Since the vast majority of houses already have a 240V service for regular home appliances, it makes it even easier.
More Information on Charging Your EV at Home
If you have adequate electrical service at home, installing EV charger can be quite cheap. But for situations where an electrical service upgrade is needed, the costs can quickly shoot up. Accounting for this is the fact that all EV charger installations must comply with local, state, and national codes and regulations.
That said, you want to be sure that you`re working with a licensed electrical contractor. And besides having to comply with the National Fire Code, you must also check with your local building, environmental, fire, and electrical inspecting and approving authorities. These local agencies may require a working permit, making it very important that you hire a professional electrical contractor.
As we have seen in many communities, EV charger installers are usually required to submit a site installation plan to the regulatory authorities and get approval before proceeding with the installation. At this point, it is of serious importance that the contractor you are working with knows the relevant codes and standards relating to your area. It is also advisable to check with your utility provider to get cost estimates before installing EVSE in your home or even modifying your electrical system.
Generally, residential EV charger is installed in the garage, but there are outdoor-rated EV charger that can withstand harsh weather and other types of stress. And the cords are usually very strong, built to withstand harsh conditions or abuse. Although the safety risks associated with installing and using home EVSE in your home are relatively very low — quite similar to the precaution you`d typically observe for large appliances like clothes dryers and refrigerators — it is important to abide by the rules.
Regarding charging equipment, there are several options for Level 2 EV charger that you can pick from when looking to purchase one. You can choose from simple models that come with standard safety features to the more advanced products that have enhanced displays, and other features, such as charging timers, smartphone connectivity, and keypads.
Charging Multi-Family Homes
Electric vehicle home charging stations for multi-unit homes like condos are usually intended to provide EV owners with an experience that's ultimately aimed at retaining the residents and fostering a clean and sustainable environment.
But because of the challenge of installing an EV charging unit in such homes, both building owners and owners of EVs face some unique and important considerations, and these could range from parking, access to electrical service, and billing to legal issues.
If you find yourself in such situations, it is advisable to find a mutually sustainable solution with the building owner before installation. For instance, the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative’s Guide for Residents of Multi-Unit Dwellings can be quite handy. There are case studies and practical best practices that you can also learn from.
If you're interested in learning how long does it take to fully charge an electrical vehicle, read our another article about EV CHARGING SPEEDS.
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