Photo credit: Chargepoint
Everyone knows you put electricity into an EV (well, almost everyone), but how it gets in there, not so much, and it’s the first question people ask EV owners—how do you charge it? How long does it take? How much does it cost?
Level Up: There are Three Ways to Charge
So where do you charge an EV? The answer, for 80 percent of EV owners, is at home, with a dedicated Level 2 charger in their garage or other parking area. That begs the question, “what is Level 2?”
Before we get to Level 2, let’s start at Level 1. You can charge an EV three ways. The slowest (but adequate for many) is what we call “Level 1.” That’s with a grounded (three-prong) 110-volt outlet and the electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE, your charger) that comes with every EV. This will charge your car from zero to 100 percent charge in about…two or three days, which sounds tedious, but in actual use adds around 5-10 miles of driving energy per hour. That means you can generally recharge about 30 percent or more overnight, plenty for most drivers.
Level 2 is a higher-amperage unit that needs a 240-volt circuit, like an electric dryer—most modern homes already have one of these outlets in the garage. It can recharge a totally flat EV battery in eight to 12 hours, or get you to 50 percent in four—that’s because as an EV battery nears a full charge the charging process is slowed to prevent battery overheating and damage.
This is the most common home solution, and Flux can recommend both the equipment and the installers. In fact, we can even install a charger at your home for no money down.
Once installed, you only pay what your electric utility charges per “kilowatt hour,” which is buried deep in the fine print on your monthly bill. California utility companies offer subsidized “time of use” plans that offer 50 percent or greater discounts for charging during off-peak hours, with rates as low as 10 cents per kilowatt hour, so if your car has a 60 kWh battery, it’ll cost $6.00 to get you 240(ish) miles of driving range. Doing that in an average 25 mpg car would cost $45.12, according to the latest AAA-reported average gas price in California. It’s like you’re buying gas for 63 cents a gallon. It’s 1971 all over again, baby!
Level 3 is…well, there isn’t a Level 3, really, because it’s usually referred to as “DC Fast Charge” or DCFC. These are the big boxy things in grocery stores and Walmart parking lots that look like gas pumps and make humming sounds as they work. They’re the equivalent of Tesla Superchargers, and some of them can charge your car just as quickly.
These things are the spendy-est way to charge, and it can cost $15-25 to fill the battery all the way, but the advantage is it will take your battery from 20 percent to 80 (DCFC charging past 80 percent is so much slower it’s usually not worth the wait) in less than an hour, or in some cases, like the Tesla Model 3, under 30 minutes! But this article is about charging at home, and unless you have $100,000 to spend, you probably won’t have a DCFC next to your dryer. Those are for when you can’t get to a home charger.
You Own Your Home
If you own your home and have a garage or driveway where you park, it’s easy-peasy. We recommend Level 1 charging if it works for you, but if you need faster speeds, Flux will help you find a qualified, licensed professional who specializes in EVSE to install the perfect charging solutions for your needs, whether your EVSE will be indoors, outdoors or both.
You Rent Your Home
If you have a dedicated parking space, and there’s access to a 110 outlet, and Level 1 charging meets your needs, and your landlord is on board with it (they can reasonably request you pay for the electricity you use—you can use a usage monitor for this), problem solved. But you may need (or just want) a Level 2 charger, which means an electrician will have to come in and wire up a 240 outlet. That sounds complex and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, your landlord (or the corporation that owns your housing development) may want EV chargers, as they can raise property values or pay for themselves with tax credits and other benefits.
In most states, landlords can refuse to let you install charge equipment, but California, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii and Florida have “Right to Charge” laws. In California and Colorado, the laws apply to both renters and owners; the rest just allow owners to install charge stations in their own properties or assigned parking areas.
So if you’re a California renter, your landlord must allow you to install charging equipment for your EV, although there are exceptions (find out more here). The landlord doesn’t have to pay for the equipment or installation—they just have to approve your request to do it. Once you have that approval, remember that Flux can hook you up with a qualified installer, and soon you’ll be living the good life, possibly saving hundreds of dollars a month.