How to Charge an Electric Car

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Charging an electric vehicle (EV) is not as simple as it seems at first. There are multiple ways to charge, places to charge, and types of chargers. Below is a brief guide on how you can most efficiently charge your electric vehicle, and you can be a more educated consumer and user of your EV.

There are three levels of charging, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These vary according to how much power is being delivered to the vehicle at any one time.

  • Level 1: Level 1 charges would include charging out of a standard 120-volt outlet (in the United States) at a home or business. Depending on the vehicle, this charging can take up to 8 hours. On an electricity and charging cost basis, this is the cheapest way to charge an electric vehicle, as you do not have to pay to use a charging station and are only subject to residential rates for electricity users. In some states, having an EV can mean a discount on electricity.
  • Level 2: Level 2 charging doubles the output of level 1 charging, using a 240-volt power source and charging in half the time. This can be accomplished either through a public or rented charging station, or by fitting a 240-volt outlet in your home. Many of the charging stations you see at grocery stores and shopping centers are level 2 chargers. Some of them are public, but many require a private membership or a certain vehicle to use.
  • Level 3: Some charging stations allow for level 3, or DC charging. This is by far the quickest charging method, and it can fully charge some EVs within 45 minutes. Before trying to use a level 3 charger, you should be aware of if your electric vehicle is capable of charging off of these units, or if an adapter is needed. For example, Tesla’s network of Superchargers can only be used with Tesla Motors vehicles.

By far the most effective and easiest charging strategy is to charge your vehicle overnight at your home. You will be able to hit the road each morning with a full charge, and will potentially pay less in electricity costs if you do not have access to public charging stations when out and about.

When you do not have access to your home charging station, public chargers are becoming a more common sight in parking lots across the United States. Whether at your workplace, where you run your errands, or during a night out grabbing dinner, there are an increasing number of charging stations to serve you. Websites such as PlugShare.com and mobile apps help you to find charging stations when you need them, or even plan routes if you plan to travel long distances.

Electric vehicles can help to lessen your dependence on oil, have less of an impact on the environment, and can be a lot of fun to drive. Armed with the resources on how to charge your vehicle, you can minimize the disruption that comes from needing to charge your vehicle and can ride the wave of EVs into the future.

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