Charging an electric car
You may have heard about "range anxiety." The fact is, if you drive less than 60 miles round trip for your commute, you'll be covered with a single charge with most electric cars offered on the market today.
Charging is no big deal, with a little planning
You can get the most out of driving electric when you have:
- A plug available for home or workplace charging
- Accounts or apps for public charging when you're on the go
- A clear idea of the time needed to charge
If you live in a single-family home, you can use a standard, grounded 120V plug. You can also install a Level 2 charger, which operates at 240V.
If you live in an apartment, condo or townhome without workplace charging available, it's more complicated if you don't have a dedicated parking space with an outlet. Before you purchase an electric car, be sure to talk with your building manager or homeowner's association to discuss your charging options.
In Washington, electric car drivers will find DC fast charging stations along Interstate 5, US Highway 2 and parts of I-90. With the existing charging network, drivers can now travel "border-to- border" along the 276 miles of I-5 between Washington's borders with Oregon and Canada.
The difference between chargers
You can charge your car at home, at a public charging station or at work. These are the types of chargers you'll encounter:
Level 1 Charging
TIME TO CHARGE: ~ 12 hours*
WHERE: Home, Work, Public
This is the charging cord that comes standard with every electric car. It has a conventional three-prong plug that goes into any properly grounded standard household 120v outlet.
This setup provides between 2 and 5 miles per hour. In most cases, charging your car at home overnight with an L1 charger will be enough to meet the needs of your daily commute if you travel less than 40-60 miles a day and have all night to charge.
Level 2 Charging
TIME TO CHARGE: ~ 4-8 hours*
WHERE: Home, Work, Public
Most dedicated home and public charging stations operate at 240 volts. This setup will require the same type of wiring as an electric stove or clothes dryer.
Level 2 charging can add 10-25 miles of range in an hour of charging at home or at a public station. This will be at least twice as fast as Level 1 charging, often quicker, due to the higher amperage of the circuit. L2 charging can be done as a trip to the grocery store or mall.
DC Fast Charging
VOLTS: 300-800 Volts
DC TIME TO CHARGE: ~ 1 hour*
WHERE: Work, Public
This type of charging unit uses direct current (DC) rather than household alternating current (AC) and charges through a high-powered 480V plug. DC charging stations hook up to the electricity grid so they can get and convert far more power.
You'll find DC charging at public sites, often along highways or in urban locations and workplaces. They often look like gas pump-sized machines.