How to Charge Your Electric Vehicle
Learn how to charge your vehicle at home and on the road by getting directions to charging stations near you.
Chargers for plug-in electric vehicles are classified by the rate at which the batteries are charged. There are three primary levels of charging, which offer incrementally faster charge rates, and each level requires a different type of outlet and connector.
Keep in mind that, EV’s don’t all go the same distance on a given amount of electricity. Just like a gas vehicle, the MPGe depends on the outside temperature and your driving habits.
Level 1 Charging
All electric cars come equipped with a cable that connects to the vehicle’s on-board charger and a standard household 120-volt outlet. One end of the cord has a standard 3-prong household plug. On the other end is a J1772 connector, which plugs into the vehicle.
It’s easy: Take your cord, plug it into the AC outlet and your car. You will start to receive between 3 and 5 miles per hour. Meaning that charging overnight adds about 40 miles of range to your battery. Level 1 charging is the least expensive and simplest charging option, as 120-volt outlets are readily available. Level 1 charging works well for drivers that travel an average of less than 40 miles a day. Level 1 charging is recommended for overnight charging at home.
Level 2 Charging
The most popular charger is a Level 2 EV charger. It provides upwards of 25-30 miles of driving range per hour. That means an 8-hour charge provides 200 miles or more of driving range.
Level 2 chargers are and use the electrical infrastructure that is already present in most locations. Faster charging occurs via a 240-volt Level 2 system at up to 80 amps. This is the same type of plug as a clothes dryer or refrigerator in a typical single-family home.
Level 2 chargers are also available in many public places. Generally, the fees for Level 2 station charging are set by the station host, either on a per-kWh or a per minute rate. You may find stations that are free to use in exchange for the advertising they display.
Level 3 Charging
DC Fast Charging (DCFC) is the fastest option for charging electric vehicles. They offer charging with rates of up to 125 miles of added range in about 30 minutes or 250 miles in about an hour. You’ll often find DCFC stations available in many public places, such as at rest stops, shopping malls, and office buildings.
The charger is a gas pump-sized machine. Note: Older vehicles may not be equipped to charge via DC Fast Charging because they lack the necessary connector.
Except for Tesla, every electric car manufacturer in North America uses the SAE J1772 connection, usually known as the J-plug, for Level 1 (120-volt) and Level 2 (240-volt) charging. Tesla includes a Tesla charger adaptor cable with each car they sell, allowing Tesla vehicles to utilize charging stations with a J1772 connection. This means that any electric car sold in North America can be charged at any charging station equipped with the standard J1772 connection. Note: Older Nissan models require a CHAdeMO connection.