Home Charging Stations: What Electric Car Owners Need to Know
Buying an electric car allows drivers to live more sustainably and become completely untangled from the gas pump. While swapping the pump for the plug is better for the environment, the plug isn’t without its own challenges. While gas stations are plentiful everywhere, the same cannot be said for charging stations.
Electric car owners must keep their vehicle charged in order to drive it, and public stations can be expensive. Home charging stations allow electric car owners to charge their car overnight, and there are a few different types of charging stations that car owners can choose. Home charging stations include:
- Level 1 chargers
- Level 2 chargers
Each of these types has benefits and downsides. Here’s what electric car buyers need to know about the costs and convenience of home charging stations.
Level 1 Chargers Explained
All electric car models come with a plug for charging. This plug isn’t anything fancy, but it is a convenient and inexpensive option for charging the vehicle at home. The plug is known as a level 1 charger. It can be secured in a basic 120 volt circuit in a garage.
Level 1 chargers take longer to fully charge the battery of the vehicle. Owners might need to keep the car charging for 11 to 20 hours. In addition, the level 1 charger delivers 1.4 kW and will drive about four miles per hour of charge.
The issue for drivers is related to the power of the charge and how long it takes to fully charge the vehicle. If the charger requires the car to be plugged in for 20 hours to fully charge the battery, this could be incredibly inconvenient for a driver who needs the car for errands in the evening and then to drive to work in the morning.
The upside of the level 1 charger, though, is that it’s included with the purchase of the vehicle. There are no additional charges for the plug. In addition, the level 1 can be used with a standard outlet.
Level 2 Chargers Explained
For car owners who need their car to charge quicker, the Level 2 charger might be the better option. These chargers deliver about 6.2 to 7.6 kW and can drive 32 miles per every hour it has been charged.
Level 2 chargers also deliver a full charge in a shorter period of time. Car owners might only need to keep their vehicle plugged into a level 2 station for around three to eight hours for it to be completely charged. This is a fraction of the time that it takes a level 1 charger to full power the battery.
While level 2 chargers are more efficient and quicker for charging up a low battery, they are an investment. Those who want a level 2 charging station will need to have it professionally installed. These chargers also require a 240 volt circuit, and not all homes are equipped with this voltage.
For homes that do not offer a 240 volt circuit, car owners will need to hire an electrician. The price for the upgraded 240 volt circuit could be around $2,000. This is only for the electrical costs. The car owner also has to pay for the level 2 station and for the installation of the station $300 to $800. However, depending on the work needed, costs could be higher.
If the home is equipped with a 240 volt circuit, the car owner could spend around $2,000 for the new upgraded level 2 station. However, if electrical work is necessary, the cost could soar to around $3,000.
What is a Level 3 Charger?
Electrical vehicles also could be charged via a level 3 charger, but these are not really an option for home installation. A level 3 charger can fully charge a vehicle in a matter of minutes. Electric car owners will typically find level 3 chargers at public charging stations.
Those who might be interested in installing a level 3 charging station at home would need a 400 volt circuit. Level 3 charging stations are also prohibitive for many owners; Forbes explains that the price could cost more than the car itself.
The Electrifying Costs of Public Stations
Many electric cars come with a year (or more) of free charging. This perk could be beneficial for drivers for as long as they have access to the free option. After the free access comes to an end, though, electric car owners might be jolted to learn of the costs they may face at the public plugs.
Depending on the charging station the car owner chooses, the cost for electricity could vary significantly. Electrify America offers monthly memberships for drivers to access plugs at a discounted rate; members pay $0.31 per kWh and a $4 per month membership fee. Guests are charged $0.43 per kWh.
Other stations may charge a session fee plus the price for electricity. Again, though, the price per kWh could vary. In addition, car owners should understand that the price charged for electricity at these public stations is often different from what they pay for electricity at home.
Electrify America members pay $0.31 per kWh to charge. This price is about the price that Hawaii residents pay for their electricity, and the island state has one of the highest prices per kWh in the country.
States in the Midwest, for example, might be assessed about $0.12 per kWh for the electricity in their home. Car owners can review their utility bill to better understand the price of electricity in their region. However, charging a car at home is typically the best and most budget-friendly option.
Is a Level 2 Charger Worth the Investment?
Car owners might wonder if investing in a level 2 charger is worth the price. The answer really depends on the car owner’s needs, preferences and their budget, too.
If a home already offers a 240 volt circuit, the car owner will only need to pay for the charging station and its installation. While it’s still an investment, the price of convenience could be worth it.
A level 1 charger can fully charge a vehicle, but it’s going to take much longer. Some car owners don’t want to plug in their car for 12 hours for a full charge.
There also are many different level 2 charging stations that car owners could choose. Those who own a Tesla model, though, might opt for a charger offered by the company. Tesla includes pricing and other information related to all its charging equipment. In addition, the company even offers a tool to help car owners find an electrician in their area.
How Long Does a Battery Last?
Charging an electric car might be a nightly ritual for car owners. While keeping the battery fully charged can ensure that drivers don’t get zapped during a commute, an electric car’s battery isn’t immortal.
When buying an electric car, consumers need to understand the warranty for the battery. Replacing an electric car’s battery pack is an expensive repair. For this reason, buyers might consider manufacturers that offer extended battery warranties for their vehicles.
Toyota now offers a 10-year/150,000 mile warranty for its batteries. This means that the battery is protected for 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. Tesla offers an eight year/150,000 mile warranty (whichever comes first).
While those interested in buying an electrical vehicle need to understand their at-home charging options, they also need to research the warranties that different brands offer for their batteries.
Charging the car replaces the pump, but those battery packs could get zapped prematurely. When batteries won’t charge or something seems amiss, car owners must know if they are protected. Otherwise, they might be shopping for a new battery or a new electric car.