Two electric cars parked and charging in house driveways

If you don’t already own an electric vehicle (EV), you might soon. Most automakers are ramping up the development and production of electrified models, including SUVs and pick-up trucks. EV ownership is predicted to skyrocket in the next few years. Because these vehicles need to charge, it is important to figure out the best approach.

When considering an EV purchase, it is wise to consider how you will charge it. The length of time it takes to charge depends on the battery capacity and the speed of the charger. It takes longer to charge a car with a larger or more discharged battery — or from a slower charging device. The way that many EV owners charge their vehicles is similar to how they charged their cell phones before quick chargers became widespread. They give the EV a full charge overnight and top it off as needed throughout the day.

Ideally, owners can charge their electric vehicle at home in a garage or driveway. This is typically the most convenient, especially when using slower units. Let’s explore the different types of chargers available.

Level 1 Chargers

These devices work from a standard 120-volt wall outlet and all EVs come with a standard home connector kit. However, Level 1 chargers require more time to charge the vehicle than higher-volt alternatives. Many EV drivers use this option if they are not in a hurry to charge because it doesn’t require an investment in additional equipment or electrical upgrades. It can also be convenient on the road because it requires no more than a standard electrical outlet.

Level 2 Chargers

For faster home charging than the standard wall units, some EV owners upgrade to Level 2 chargers. These units run off of 240-volt currents, allowing the vehicle to charge in several hours. From an electrical perspective, the chargers require the same voltage as many electric ranges, dryers, and water heaters.

The price of EV charging stations varies widely but the average cost is about $600 to $700. Because the Level 2 charger requires a 240-volt line, the cost of an electrician to install the unit can easily cost upwards of $500, depending on the wiring layout of the property. Level 2 units can be removed, so even some renters are choosing this option if they can overcome wiring challenges.

Level 3 Chargers

Typically too expensive for most homeowners, these charging stations are best for commercial and industrial applications. They are a great option, however, for traveling on the go because they allow for charging in as little as 30 minutes. It’s important to keep in mind that not all Level 3 chargers are compatible with all EV models, so plan accordingly.

EV Charging on the Go

Unfortunately, many city or apartment dwellers don’t have garages and driveways at their disposal. It can be very difficult to charge at home when you have to park on the street. In such cases, it is best to look for other options. Can you charge your car at work or a public garage? Do any of your favorite stores have fast chargers? In a pinch, could you recharge at a friend or family member’s home with a Level 1 charger? Refer to the Department of Energy EV charger database for information on charging options in your area.

This article was originally published on December 31, 2019.

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.