EV Charging: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted on
4 min to read

If you’re considering making the leap to an electric vehicle, you’ve probably wondered about one crucial aspect: charging. In this comprehensive EV charging 101 guide, we’ll break down the basics—from the different types of charging methods to home setups and essential resources for your EV journey.

How EV charging is different from traditional fueling

Electric vehicle charging is a departure from the routine of filling up at gas stations. Instead of quick pit stops, many EV drivers treat charging like a daily routine, similar to charging your phone. EVs can be charged at home, at work and at various public charging stations. Rather than going out of your way to fuel up when you’re running low, you can top off your EV battery while you’re relaxing at home, enjoying a night out or attending a meeting. 

However, unlike gas stations which are widespread, charging stations are not always so easy to come by. This understandably creates range anxiety for drivers, especially in more rural areas. Fortunately, the infrastructure for charging stations continues to improve and public EV charging options are growing rapidly.

Different types of EV charging:

EV charging methods come in multiple forms, delivering different levels of power and faster rates of charging. They are broken down into Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 (also known as DC fast charging). The charging rate, measured in kilowatts (kW), determines how fast your EV charges. Different chargers and EV models support varying charging rates.

Level 1 charging:

Ideal for home use, Level 1 charging leverages a standard 120-volt household outlet and ranges from 1 to 2kW. Although it’s the slowest charging option, it’s suitable for charging overnight so your EV is ready to roll in the morning. With this method, it can take 20 hours or more to fully charge an empty battery. 

Level 2 charging:

Common for both home and public charging, Level 2 charging delivers a range of 3 to 19kW and requires a 240-volt outlet. This option provides faster charging than Level 1 and is well-suited for everyday use, especially if you have a daily commute. These chargers will fully charge an electric vehicle in about 5-6 hours. 

Installing a Level 2 charger at home can be a game-changer for EV owners. Consider hiring a professional for installation and make sure your electric panel can handle the load. Don’t forget to explore any EV tax credits and claim rebates for installing an EV charger at home.

Level 3 DC fast charging:

Mostly found at public charging stations along highways, DC fast charging ranges from 50 to over 350kW and is for those in need of a quick energy boost during long trips. It requires special equipment and delivers high-powered, fast charging. 

DC fast chargers significantly reduce charging times, making them invaluable for road trips and long drives. This method will charge an EV’s battery in under an hour, typically between 15 and 45 minutes.

Charge time variables

While charging levels define the potential speed of your EV’s refueling, the actual charge time depends on various factors. Battery size, state of charge and the specific EV model all play roles in determining how quickly your electric beauty can get back on the road. As technology advances, newer EV models are designed to optimize charging efficiency, reducing wait times for a fully charged battery.

Public charging stations:

It’s important to know where you can fuel your EV, especially in rural areas or on long drives. Public charging networks like ChargePoint and Tesla Supercharger, have become widespread and help provide charging services to EV drivers across the nation. Additionally, apps like PlugShare help EV owners locate charging stations. 

Payment methods vary for charging stations, including subscription services and pay-as-you-go options. Pricing structures are also subject to change, based on electricity prices and the prices set by the individual owners of the charging stations. 

Charging resources:

Car buying resources:

Wooden blocks spelling "FAQ"

Frequently asked questions

Is at-home EV charging better than public charging?

While at-home charging isn’t necessarily “better” than public charging, it is the preferred method for many drivers. Level 1 home chargers may be the slowest charging method, but it only takes a few seconds to plug in when you arrive home every day. From there, your EV is charging up until you’re ready to hit the road again.

Level 1 chargers offer the greatest ease of access compared to public charging stations. Depending on where you live, public charging stations may be hard to come by. If you do come across one, it may be occupied or broken, and you’ll still have to wait about 30 minutes for a full charge after you plug in.

Is DC fast charging bad for my EV battery?

Repeated use of DC fast chargers over time can reduce your EV’s overall battery life. This method of charging is great when you need a quick top-off, but it can be costly and taxing on your battery with frequent and repeated use. Try to avoid regular use of DC fast charging to preserve your battery life. 

Will my EV have enough battery charge for a road trip?

Yes! There are plenty of great electric vehicles for road trips and long drives. It’s always smart to plan your trip ahead of time to locate charging points along your route. Remember that charging an EV battery takes longer than filling up a gas tank, so plan for some downtime if you stop at a public charger.

Should I fully charge my EV battery to 100%? Unlike a conventional gas vehicle, EV batteries will perform better over time if they are not fully charged. Manufacturers recommend charging your battery to about 80%, rather than a full charge. Not only do charging rates slow down when you go above 80%, but your battery’s overall lifespan will improve when kept under 80%.

Get an instant quote