Ultimate Guide to Electric Vehicle Chargers - Best EV Charging Station 101
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of transportation, but charging them at home or on the go can be confusing. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about EV chargers – the types, key features, installation, and more. Whether you already own an EV or are considering one, read on to become an expert on EV charging equipment and stations. Its also important to consider the car charger electrical work that might be required for your desired upgrade.
With more automakers releasing electric models each year and increased government incentives, EVs are surging in popularity. But the growth of EVs also requires a robust charging infrastructure. Understanding charger types, speeds, connectors and other factors is key to a smooth transition to electric. This guide will empower you to make the best charging choices.
What are the Main Types of EV Chargers?
There are three primary levels of electric vehicle chargers:
This is the most basic charger that plugs into a normal 120-volt household outlet. Level 1 provides about 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging time. It’s the slowest charging option but is easy and inexpensive. Level 1 works for EVs that are driven short daily distances since charging can be done overnight. The charger cable is typically included with the EV.
Far more powerful than Level 1, Level 2 chargers run on 240-volt outlets, the same as an electric dryer. Level 2 delivers 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging. Level 2 is ideal for daily home charging needs and commonly used for workplace and public charging stations. Installation requires a 240-volt circuit which may require an electrician.
DC Fast Charging
This is the fastest charging option, providing 60 to over 100 miles of range per 10 minutes of charging. However, DC fast chargers are expensive and rarely available for home installation. They are primarily located at public charging stations along major highways for EVs traveling longer distances. (Resource: US Dept of Energy)
Key Considerations for a Home EV Charger Chargepoint
For home charging, Level 1 or Level 2 are the main options. Important factors in choosing a home EV charger include:
Charging speed – Faster Level 2 units allow you to charge fully overnight whereas Level 1 charges much slower over multiple days.
Electrical service – Ensure your home has adequate electrical service for Level 2 charging which may require an upgrade.
Number of vehicles – Allow for charging multiple EVs if needed now or later.
Wi-Fi connectivity – Enables controlling and monitoring charging via smartphone.
Weather rating – Outdoor rated units are waterproof and durable.
Cable length – Longer cables provide more parking flexibility.
Mounting type – Wall mounts, pedestals and other options.
Scheduling – Set charging schedules to take advantage of lower electric rates.
Power sharing – Units that split power between multiple vehicles connected.
Access control – RFID or app-based authentication helps manage public access.
Load management – Balances available electrical capacity across vehicles charging.
Considering all these factors will help you select the ideal home EV charger.
Level 2 Home Best EV Chargers
Here are some top-rated Level 2 EV chargers to consider for home installation:
Grizzl-E – Affordable, weatherproof, long 25 ft cable. No Wi-Fi.
Emporium – Sleek design. 25 ft cable. Wi-Fi connectivity.
ChargePoint Home Flex – Smart Wi-Fi enabled. Shorter 20 ft cable.
Lectron – Compact, lightweight. 22 ft cable. Budget choice but fewer features.
ClipperCreek HCS-60 – Rugged, dependable. 25 ft cable. No Wi-Fi.
Siemens VersiCharge – Compact. 20 ft cable. Wi-Fi connectivity.
JuiceBox Pro 40 – Power sharing capability. 25 ft cable. Wi-Fi app control.
Wallbox Pulsar – Slim, attractive design. 20 ft cable. Wi-Fi connected.
I recommend getting a wifi-enabled “smart” charger so you can control and monitor charging status from your smartphone. Brands like ChargePoint and Emporium offer excellent smartphone apps.
How to Install a Home EV Charger (Car Charger Electrical)
Installation of a home Level 2 EV charger requires:
A 240-volt circuit – Usually 50 amps but some chargers allow 30 amps. This requires an electrician in most cases.
The correct receptacle – Most models use a NEMA 14-50 outlet, the same as an electric range or dryer.
Electrical panel capacity – The existing electrical service must have room to add the 240-volt circuit. Upgrades may be needed for 100+ amp panels.
Mounting – Wall mounting is typical but pedestals or poles allow for more flexibility.
Permits – Permits are required for electrical work like this in most municipalities.
I’d recommend having an electrician install your Level 2 home EV charger unless you are very familiar with electrical work yourself. They can ensure proper permitting and inspection. Expect to pay $500 to $1000 for parts and professional installation.
Public EV Charging Stations (Car Charger Electrical)
Charging your EV away from home relies on public charging stations. Here are some key facts about public EV charging:
Charging speed – Most public stations are Level 2 but new high-speed DC fast chargers provide 75-350kW.
Connectors – CCS or CHAdeMO plugs are typical for DC fast charging. J1772 is standard for Level 2.
Charging networks – Apps like ChargePoint make finding stations and paying easy. Create accounts ahead of time.
Cost – Fees are typically 25 to 50 cents per kWh. DC fast charging costs more. Memberships can lower rates.
Etiquette – Follow time limits and only park in EV spots when charging. Move car when fully charged.
I recommend downloading apps like PlugShare and ChargePoint to locate stations and compare pricing. Also, consider memberships like Electrify America’s for lower rates if you charge away from home frequently.
EV Charging Times
EV charging time depends on the charger type, battery capacity, and range needed. Here are some typical Level 2 charging times as an example:
Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery): 8 hours for full charge
Tesla Model 3 (60 kWh): 11 hours
Ford Mustang Mach E (75 kWh): 13 hours
Chevrolet Bolt (65 kWh): 10 hours
With a Level 1 charger, expect 2-3 times longer charge times. For public DC fast charging, typical times are:
- 15-30 minutes for 50% charge
- 45 minutes for 80%
- 75 minutes for 100%
Just remember that for daily commutes, overnight Level 2 home charging should be sufficient. Fast public DC charging enables longer road trips.
Getting Started with Home EV Charging
If you just purchased an EV, here are the key steps to enable home charging:
Check your home’s electrical service – Confirm you have sufficient capacity for Level 2 charging and if upgrades are needed.
Select a charger – Choose the right Level 1 or Level 2 charger based on your needs and budget.
Install your charger – Hire a certified electrician unless you have electrical expertise. Get proper permits.
Set up apps – Connect your WiFi enabled charger to apps like ChargePoint to monitor charging status.
Begin charging – Plug in your EV and set charge schedules if desired. Monitor to optimize charging times.
Consider billing – Set up separate metering if needed to track charging electricity costs separate from home usage.
With the right charger set up at home, you’ll wake up to a fully charged EV every morning!
Cost of Home EV Charging
For a Model 3 Long Range with a 75 kWh battery, a full charge uses approx. 65 kWh. At the US average electricity rate of 14 cents/kWh, that equals about $9 per full charge. For the typical US driver averaging 35 miles per day, the electricity cost would be around $3 daily.
Compared to a gas car getting 25 mpg and gas costing $3.50/gallon, the EV is much cheaper to fuel at about $3 versus $14 for the same daily mileage.
Looking at total cost of ownership including purchase price, EVs save thousands over the lifespan of the vehicle. Home charging costs are minimal compared to gas charges. Smart charging when rates are lower further minimizes the electricity costs.
Optimizing Costs and Convenience
There are additional ways to optimize home charging for lower costs and maximum convenience:
Charge scheduling – Program charges during off-peak electricity rates if available from your utility.
Solar pairing – Use solar panels to power charging with clean energy from the sun.
Load balancing – Smart chargers distribute power efficiently across multiple vehicles.
Public charging – Use workplace or public chargers when convenient to minimize home charging needs.
Preconditioning – Warm or cool the EV cabin before unplugging to reduce battery drain.
Battery health – Avoid frequent 100% charges and let charge taper off above 90% to extend battery longevity.
With smart charging habits, you can efficiently power your EV for just a few dollars per day.
Final Takeaways on EV Charging
Transitioning to an electric vehicle is a big step, but setting up charging should be simple and convenient. Keep these key points in mind:
Level 2 chargers are ideal for faster daily home charging. Choose wi-fi enabled “smart” models.
Installation may require electrical upgrades. Hire a certified electrician.
Apps allow you to monitor charging status and optimize charge times.
Public DC fast charging enables long distance EV travel.
Electricity costs for home charging are far lower than gas for ICE cars.
Optimize costs further with smart charging, solar energy, and public chargers.
With the right EV charger and some preparation, you’ll enjoy smooth reliable charging at low cost. Driving electric can save you thousands while also reducing environmental impact. Investing in home and public charging infrastructure is critical as EVs become the new normal.
Q: What are the different types of electric vehicle chargers available for home use?
A: The different types of electric vehicle chargers for home use include level 1 chargers, which use a standard 120-volt household outlet, and level 2 chargers, which require a 240-volt outlet and offer faster charging times.
Q: What is the best electric vehicle charger for home use?
A: The best electric vehicle charger for home use depends on factors such as the electric vehicle’s charging capabilities, installation preferences, and desired charging speed. Popular options include Chargepoint Home Flex, Lectron, and Emporium.
Q: Can I use a specific electric vehicle charger with my Tesla vehicle?
A: Several electric vehicle chargers are compatible with Tesla vehicles, including the Grizzl-E Level 2 charger and the Chargepoint Home Flex, which are designed to work seamlessly with Tesla electric cars.
Q: What are the key features to consider when choosing a home electric vehicle charger?
A: When choosing a home electric vehicle charger, consider factors such as charging speed, compatibility with your electric car, WiFi connectivity, smart charging capabilities, and the total cost of ownership including installation and maintenance.
Q: How do I determine the best amp rating for an electric vehicle charger for my home?
A: The best amp rating for an electric vehicle charger depends on the charging capabilities of your electric vehicle. Common amp ratings include 48 amp and 50 amp chargers, which offer faster charging speeds for compatible electric cars.
Q: Can I monitor and control my home electric vehicle charger remotely?
A: Yes, several home electric vehicle chargers offer WiFi connectivity and smart features, allowing users to monitor and control the charger remotely using a dedicated mobile app or web interface.
Q: What is the significance of a Level 2 electric vehicle charger for home use?
A: A Level 2 electric vehicle charger for home use provides faster charging times compared to a standard Level 1 charger, making it a more convenient and practical option for charging electric vehicles at home.
Q: Are there electric vehicle chargers for home use equipped with charging stations with WiFi?
A: Yes, there are electric vehicle chargers for home use equipped with charging stations that offer WiFi connectivity, allowing for remote monitoring, control, and data access through wireless networks.
Q: What are the benefits of using a smart electric vehicle charger for home charging?
A: Smart electric vehicle chargers for home charging offer features such as scheduled charging, real-time monitoring, energy usage tracking, and compatibility with smart home systems, providing enhanced convenience and control for electric vehicle owners.
Q: How can I determine the total cost of ownership for a home electric vehicle charger?
A: The total cost of ownership for a home electric vehicle charger includes the purchase price, installation costs, maintenance expenses, and electricity usage fees. It’s important to consider these factors when evaluating the overall cost of owning and using a home electric vehicle charger.