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Photo by Carolyn Fortuna/ CleanTechnica

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How Should You Prepare Ahead To Charge A New EV?

It’s important to digest the difference between levels of chargers, so you can make informed decisions.

With so many appealing electric vehicle (EV) options available, you are probably getting ready to move your next vehicle purchase to battery-electric. Whether it’s a Volkswagen ID.4, a Tesla Model Y, a Chevy Bolt, or Ford Lightning — or another of the many options — which model you land on is only one of several decisions you’ll make as you join the all-electric transportation movement. How will you charge a new EV?

What will it take to have systems in place to charge a new EV? Where will you charge in your home, neighborhood, and community?

First of all, it’s important to digest the difference between levels of chargers, so you can make informed decisions.

Level 1: These chargers plug directly into a standard outlet. They’re good in a pinch, say, if you find yourself without a charger in sight and will be staying put for half a day. They have a 120 volt (V) AC outlet supplying an average power output of 1.3 kW to 2.4 kW. A Level 1 charger is very s-s-l-l-l-o-o-o-w-w-w but could get you just enough juice to drive to a more powerful charger.

Level 2: This is a better option for most EV owners. Level 2 chargers operate at 208-240 V and output anywhere from 3 kW to 19 kW of AC power. This power output translates to 18-28 miles of range per hour. An average EV can be fully charged in 8 hours or less. If you want to get more technical, check out CleanTechnica’s Level 2 Charging Guide.

Fast Charging: DCFCs are the fastest chargers available with a maximum output of 350 kW. DCFCs are designed to fill an EV battery to 80% in 20-40 minutes and 100% in 60-90 minutes.

Making Charging Real for You

My guy and I have a summer place in a rural seasonal RV community. The infrastructure across our valley is from the 1960s and hasn’t seen many upgrades at all since. We own a used gas-powered car that we keep in storage ’til the summer, and we’re probably going to trade it in for a hybrid or all-electric vehicle in 2023. We’ll be able to plug it into the standard outlet in the shed — a Level 1 charger — but that means it would always be plugged in to achieve minimal charging levels. We’d be frustrated all the time.

A Level 2 charger is the type that we had installed by a licensed electrician in our Florida carport. For all intents and purposes, it’s like a dryer plug. It cost us about $750 total for the item, a private meter, and the electrician installation. It’s quite civilized: we plug in late in the day, leave it plugged in overnight, and it’s ready to go in the morning. Section 718.113(8), Florida Statutes requires a condominium to allow a unit owner to install an EV charging station within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking area. It must meet all safety requirements and applicable building codes, and the owner must utilize a licensed and registered electrical contractor or an engineer.

Do you need a Level 2 charger at your home? Many sources say, no, you’ll be okay with a Level 1 charger. But let’s be realistic: you need a Level 2 charger so that your EV driving experience is smooth and seamless. We’ll probably get an estimate from an electrician next summer as to the viability of getting a Level 2 charger installed at our little summer bungalow by the brook.

Fast charging: My experience with Fast Charging is limited to the Tesla Supercharger Network, but I must admit that it’s quite elegant. Superchargers can add up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. When I’m traveling longer distances or away from home, all I have to do is enter a destination on my touchscreen. The Trip Planner automatically calculates my route and identifies appropriate Superchargers along the way.

What Other Charging Options are Available? Chargers in the News

If you rely on street parking, your home likely can’t accommodate an EV. But don’t despair. You can still own an EV and reliably charge. That’s because more and more publicly-available chargers are being developed and installed around the US. The good news is that the number of charging stations is growing at a rapid clip. According to the Department of Energy, there are now over 22,000 stations across the US with more than 68,800 connectors between them.

We’re lucky: our local city, in conjunction with the utility company, provides a bank of free chargers in the city garage. I use them frequently.

Electrify America is the largest public fast charging network in the US and claims you can charge with them in as little as 30 minutes. (You’ll remember that Electrify America is the EV charging network created by Volkswagen as part of its diesel cheating settlement with the US government.) It has been in operation for several years now and is in the process of replacing 300 of its first generation chargers with spiffy new equipment.

The US Transportation Department (USDOT) said this week it has approved the EV charging station plans for all 50 states, Washington, and Puerto Rico covering about 75,000 miles (120,700 kms) of highways. Federal funds will cover 80% of EV charging costs, with private or state funds making up the balance. “We’re not going to dictate to the states how to do this, but we do need to make sure that they meet basic standards,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this year.

A recent press release from Hertz and bp announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the development of a national network of EV charging stations powered by bp pulse, bp’s global electrification and charging solution brand. They intend to develop a national network of EV-charging stations in 2023 which will be mostly at airports but also at some city center locations. The first round of chargers will be for Hertz customers, but the companies plan to add more charging sites for use by ride share and taxi drivers and later to the general public.

Final Thoughts about Anticipating Ways to Charge a New EV

If you want to charge your EV, there are typical places where you can do so: at your home, at public charging stations, or at private charging stations. Regardless of the site, they all work basically the same way.

As you get more used to the idea of EV charging, you’ll find yourself less worried about range, and you’ll learn more about its benefits. One is bidirectional charging, which refers to two-way charging. That means the EV both charges and discharges. Vehicle to Grid (V2G) is a charging technology that allows the flow of energy from the car battery back to the grid — from the vehicle to the grid.

You can do it! Like much technology, EVs require modeling — one person demonstrating to another person how the vehicle works. Many of us who are today’s EV drivers probably had the opportunity to get up-front-and-personal with an EV through being whisked along in a buddy’s all-electric sports car or at a community EV show-and-drive day. Kids are so tech savvy as a general rule and are finding lots of opportunities to learn about EVs and charging. Ask a kid — they’ll teach you!

 
 
 
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Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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