EV Charging Basics
For most drivers, charging an EV is as simple as charging a cell phone. In fact, it usually takes only around five seconds of your time to “refuel” your electric vehicle. Why? Because most charging (over 85%, according to EV driver polling) happens at home, overnight, while the driver sleeps. Simply plug in your EV when you get home and it will typically re-charge back to full before you wake up in the morning. It’s the vehicle that “refuels” while you sleep! There are three charging levels to choose from, depending upon your needs and lifestyle.
LEVEL 1 CHARGING
Examples: home overnight
In the case of charging at Level 1, all you need is the included charging adapter and a standard outlet – no “charging station” required! The adapter comes with a cord and charger head that plugs into your EV. After initial set up, it is always ready and on standby. Then it only takes a few seconds to plug in your EV each night. It really is that easy! Level 1 works best for plug-in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) with small batteries, and/or people who do not drive much each day, as it adds range of between 3 and 6 miles per hour of charging, or approximately 50 miles overnight. From a very low charge, depending on the size of your EV’s battery, it can take more than 40 hours to charge to 90% and higher.
LEVEL 2 CHARGING
Examples: home, workplace, destination
A Level 2 charging system consists of a 240 volt wiring circuit from your electrical panel to a either a NEMA 14-50 outlet (much like the outlet into which you’d plug an electric stove or clothes dryer), or hard-wired to a wall-mounted EV charging station. The most common type of charging both private and public, Level 2 adds up to 70 miles of range per hour, depending upon the vehicle and station type. This means that even the longest range EV will always get a full charge overnight using properly matched Level 2 equipment. From a low charge, an EV can be charged to 90% or higher in about 9 hours on a typical level 2 system. Some high amp systems can charge as quickly as 4 hours. Level 2 charging equipment can be purchased for as little as $200. HG&E customers can get a free charger by signing up for HG&E’s Connected Homes Program. Typically, the installation only requires minor work by an electrician. Check out our Home Installation Help section and FAQS to learn more.
LEVEL 3 CHARGING
Examples: highway rest stop, community hub
Also known as public DC Fast Charging, Quick charging, and Supercharging, Level 3 adds more than 90 miles of miles of range per hour of charging (in some cases, the newest level 3 systems add several hundred miles an hour). Therefore, most charging stops would be only minutes at a time. For example, depending on model and station some EVs are already capable of adding 180 miles of range in under 30 minutes, and the next generation of vehicles (2020) and chargers will cut that charging time to less than half, or around 200 miles in just 10 minutes! Many new fast charging sites are being added every year. To get a handy online map and mobile app to find charging station near you, visit PlugShare or install their mobile app. Level 3 charging is typically not meant for residential use.
About Public Charging Equipment and Networks
Charging in public can be a positive experience with a little bit of research and preparation ahead of time. There are many brands and models of chargers available publicly, as well as many different charging networks both nationally and regionally. There are basically two types of stations:
- Smart charging stations, also known as networked charging stations or connected stations. These typically require a membership, a card, or an app to access. They may or may not have a fee.
- Non-networked charging stations. These do not require any membership to activate, and usually are free and just connect when you plug in. On occasion they require an access code.
Gathering information in advance of a trip(for example by using PlugShare or another online resource or app) can help you explore what public charging is near you.