Cars electric vehicle battery charging

Published on July 5th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


How to Charge Your Electric Car | Electric Vehicle Charging

July 5th, 2012 by  

electric vehicle battery 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

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • PaulScott58

    I forgot to mention, the J1772 standard is called Level 1 if it’s 120 volts and Level 2 is it’s 240 volts. Level 2 ranges from 15 amps up to 80 amps.

  • PaulScott58

    This comment, “Since electric cars are an emerging technology, the standard for vehicle charging is still being developed.” is not accurate. Two years ago, the SAE standardized the charging connector for EVs in the U.S. The standard, SAE J1772 (we call it the “J-plug”) is used in all EVs except Teslas. Tesla developed their own proprietary charging protocol. However, most Tesla drivers have adaptors that allow them to charge from the J-plugs.

    • Thanks for the note. Sorry for the delay in responding. I think this was just a semantic issue, but I updated the line to make it more accurate (or not inaccurate).

  • Ftp

    Zach….ya, electric dryers…however, domestic washing machines all use 110/120 volt outlets…they only use motors….no calrods or coils…electric STOVES do though, and larger wall/window ACs use 220/240…..usually starting at about 12,000 BTUs.
    Wake up…this is the second article today you have slacked off on with mis information….

    • Bob_Wallace

      I can’t make sense of what you’re trying to say.  Let me try guessing my way though your word salad.

      “calrods” – heating element?

      Washing machines do have “coils”, solenoid operated water valves.  But I’m not sure what this has to do with your complaint.  

      While washing machines in the US run on 120vac, in Europe and other parts of the world the grid’s lowest voltage is 240vac.

      Perhaps Zach meant dishwashers which do have heating elements.

    • 1- this is a guest post, i just wrote the intro.
      2- checking this statement, i’m seeing 120 volts for US washers and 220-240 volts for European washers. i will remove the statement above since it’s not 100% true, but your statement about “all” washers is also untrue. 3- what article have you found misinformation? i’m not aware of an instance in another article. (and this isn’t really an instance of misinformation either, given what i just wrote above).

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