Just as a conventionally powered car won’t run without gas in the tank, an electric vehicle won’t run unless the battery is sufficiently charged. While most motorist can only fill-up at a gas station, EV owners have multiple options for recharging. Home charging is probably the most convenient option for many people, since all it takes is a standard plug in your garage or near your driveway to give your EV the needed charge to get you where you want to go.
Public charging stations are getting easier to find, with nearly 800 stations providing almost 2,000 separate charging outlets across Pennsylvania. This primer on charging offers an overview on levels and types as well as resources to find where to recharge when your batteries are running low.
EV CHARGING TYPES
LEVEL 1 CHARGING
Level 1 charging often refers to the use of a standard household outlet and does not require the installation of specialty charging equipment. Level 1 charging uses a manufacturer provided cord with a three-prong household plug on one end and the manufacturers connector to the vehicle on the other.
Depending on vehicle battery technology, Level 1 charging generally takes 8-12 hours. Charging most often takes place at the vehicle owner’s home and is typically conducted overnight.
LEVEL 2 CHARGING
Level 2 equipment charges the vehicles’ battery faster. Specialty equipment and a dedicated 40 amp circuit are required. The home charging or public charging equipment comes equipped with a cord that plugs directly into the vehicle at the same connector location used for Level 1 equipment.
Depending on vehicle battery technology, Level 2 charging generally takes 4 – 6 hours. Charging time can increase in cold temperatures. Level 2 chargers are commonly found in residential settings, public parking areas, places of employment and commercial settings.
DC FAST CHARGE
DC FAST CHARGING (DCFC)
DC (Direct Current) chargers are the largest and fastest Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) for charging an electric vehicle. The EV battery is directly connected to an external AC to DC power supply. It requires specialized, high-powered charging equipment and special equipment in the vehicle itself.
DC Fast-Charging can deliver an 80% battery charge for most EV models in about 20-30 minutes. DCFC is most often utilized in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors.
While Level 1 and Level2 charging is standardized, multiple charging plugs exist for DC Fast Charging based on the vehicle manufacturer. It’s important to know which type of DC Fast plug your electric car may have and locate charging opportunities accordingly.
Currently, different EV manufacturers use different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers. The Combined Charging System (CCS) favored by BMW, Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen group, combines a Level-2 charger with an additional DC Fast Charge port for fast charging capability. There are three other manufacturer standards: Tesla’s Supercharger system; CHAdeMO, developed by carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi; and GB/T in China, the world’s biggest electric car market.
WHERE CAN I CHARGE MY EV WHEN I'M OUT?
Did you know there are over 40,000 charging units in the US? Many of these are open to the public, and can be found in public garages, parking lots, and even at the street curb.
Employers are also catching on to the benefits of providing workplace charging spots for EV owners. Many
employees are able to plug in when they arrive and fill their battery so they are charged for their daily commute.
The Alternate Fuel Station Locator map is a great tool to find EV charging stations across the US, and includes details about the charging level and plug type.