In the past, shopping for a new car required you to answer several basic questions:
- What make and model best suits my lifestyle and driving habits?
- Which features and options will improve my comfort or safety?
- How much can I afford to spend?
Those questions still apply today when shopping for an electric vehicle, but add one more to the list: What’s the best way to charge my vehicle’s batteries? Let’s take a look at the various charging options, keeping in mind that how and where you charge your EV will affect the price you pay.
- Home Charging: One of the conveniences of EV ownership is the ability to charge your car in the cozy comfort of your garage. All EVs come with what’s called a Level 1 connector that’s compatible with the 120-volt current in your home, so you can just plug the cord into any standard electric outlet. If you want a faster charge, consider investing in a 240-volt wall-mounted Level 2 charger. Level 1 will give you 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging while Level 2 will give you 10 to 20 miles per hour of charging.
- Workplace Charging: Hundreds of employers in California – especially large technology companies – now offer their workers the ability to charge their EVs during the workday. In fact, workplace charging in California is second only to home charging in terms of popularity. Many companies have found that workplace charging helps meet their corporate sustainability goals while providing their employees with a valuable “perk”.
- Public Charging: EV owners can charge their vehicles in a number of public parking lots adjacent to government buildings, retail stores, entertainment venues and tourist destinations. Many of these charging stations are free, while others can be used for a reasonable fee. Drivers can subscribe to a charging network, like ChargePoint, which operates through an app on your phone, or EVgo, which uses an electronic card. However, regulations recently adopted in California would require charging stations to accept standard credit cards, making the process just as easy as buying gasoline at a service station.
Most workplace and public charging stations are Level 2, although some are Level 3 – also known as DC Fast charging. DC Fast charges through a 480-volt direct current (DC) plug and can fully charge your car’s batteries in about half an hour. However, DC Fast charging isn’t compatible with all EVs.
Finding a charging station within that growing network has become easier through a host of websites and apps that can pinpoint the location of stations along the route of any trip you take. PlugShare, Google Maps, and ChargeHub are among the popular choices for EV owners.
All of these charging options and helpful tools should make your decision to buy an electric vehicle as easy as it is to say “Fill ‘er up!”