Published on July 5th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan6
How to Charge Your Electric Car | Electric Vehicle Charging
Here’s an interesting guest post on a basic, but important, electric vehicle topic we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing — hope you find it interesting and useful:
What You Need to Know About Charging Your Electric Car at Home
Electric cars evoke a sense of refined simplicity — no gray exhaust, no gasoline spills — just the quiet hum of an electric motor. We like to think of them as larger versions of the remote-controlled cars we played with as children, but unlike those toy cars, electric vehicles are complex, expensive machines. They require maintenance and care that may include anything from computer firmware updates to specific charging requirements. Since electric cars are an emerging technology, vehicle charging technology is still developing rapidly. We’ll cover some of the existing vehicle charging methods below, and go over which are best for charging your electric car.
How vehicle chargers work
A vehicle charger (the mechanism that controls the charging process) is located inside the vehicle, and performs two critical functions:
- Charges the car battery
- Monitors the battery as it is being charged, and stops the process if the battery is damaged
Certain vehicle chargers have more complex monitoring capabilities than others, such as battery temperature, which allows the vehicle to charge as quickly as possible without overheating the battery. These chargers can receive an electrical current from a variety of sources depending on the vehicle. We’ll look at those next.
Methods and equipment
- Standard electrical outlets: Many electric cars can simply be plugged into a standard electrical outlet that can be found in any home. The common home outlet puts out 120 volts of electricity, which is a relatively small amount considering what’s needed to charge an electric car battery. A car plugged into a 120-volt outlet can take as many as 12 hours to fully charge. Most houses are also equipped with 240-volt outlets. These are the larger outlets usually used to power clothes driers, large window/wall air conditioning units, and electric stoves in Europe and the US (and washing machines in Europe). Whichever voltage you use for charging, the only equipment you’ll need is a heavy duty extension cord.
- Charging stations: While a 120-volt electrical outlet will eventually charge your electric car, most manufacturers recommend that you buy and install a vehicle charging station at home. The station usually requires a dedicated circuit, and costs around $2,000 including installation. Using a higher voltage electrical current, a vehicle charging station can charge an electric car in half the time.
If you think an electric car may be right for you, be sure to spend time researching the costs and limitations of the vehicle you’re interested in before making a decision. Electric cars, and any other new vehicle, should always be covered by full coverage car insurance. That way you’re sure that your investment in new technology is protected in the event of an accident. To find affordable insurance, compare several auto insurance quotes before deciding on a provider.
Image: electric vehicle battery charging via Shutterstock