EV Charging FAQs

EV Charging FAQs

What is the difference between an all-electric vehicle (EV) and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are powered by both conventional fuels as well as electric power stored in a battery. All-electric vehicles use a battery to store the electrical energy that is the sole source of power to the motor. EVs provide a more economical, “greener”, sustainable solution for drivers today.

What will I need to operate a plug-in electric car?

You will need a way to charge the vehicle in your home or at another charging facility.  Although some vehicles will be provided with a Level 1 charging system that can be used from a standard household outlet, it is recommended that prior to purchasing an all-electric vehicle, a potential owner investigates the purchase and installation of a Level 2 charging station for home use.

How many miles can EVs travel on a single charge?

Vehicle range can vary depending on battery capacity, ambient temperature, and driver habits. Typical EV’s can travel between 100 – 300 miles on a single charge, more than enough distance for most daily commutes.

How do charging costs compare to gasoline costs?

The cost of charging an EV is significantly less expensive than the equivalent cost of gasoline. For example, A conventional vehicle getting 27.5 mpg and traveling 600 miles per month will cost the owner about $800 a year (assuming gasoline at $3.00/gallon). However, a customer would expect to pay between $60 to $160 (dependent on the rate plan) in electric costs for the same distance.

What is the expected life of a battery in an EV?

Many EVs from larger manufacturers are coming to market with 8-year warranties. Manufacturers fully expect that the batteries will serve the vehicle well past the warranty period; however, slight degradation will eventually occur, thus shortening the vehicle’s range.

How does maintenance on an EV compared to a conventional car?

Electric vehicles require less maintenance as they have roughly one quarter of the moving parts of a conventional vehicle. For example, EVs do not require air cleaners, oil filters, spark plugs, engine oil, fan belts, radiators, fuel filters, and various other components of gas-powered vehicles. With EVs, the battery is the most critical component and requires little to no maintenance.

Where can I charge an EV?

EVs come equipped with cords and equipment that allow them to be plugged into conventional 120-volt outlets that are standard in your home or garage. However, EV owners can also purchase advanced, Level 2 chargers (240-volt) that will cut charging time in half. When considering home charging options, please consult with a licensed electrician as modifications to your home’s electrical wiring will likely be needed. EVs can also be charge at public stations currently being installed across the country, For more information visit Public Charging Stations.

Will the charging station work with any electric vehicle (EV)?

Yes, the home charging station’s coupler is standardized (SAE J1772) and compatible with 99% of the EV models from large automakers.

How can I determine if I have enough electric capacity in my home to charge an EV?

The first step is to have a licensed electrician perform an assessment at your home. They will be able to identify the scope of work needed to accommodate the charging equipment. In extreme cases, an electric service upgrade to your home may be required. In that case, your utility company may have to perform work required to supply the additional electric load. Your licensed electrician should be able to identify this problem and can work with the utility company to provide the service upgrade needed.

Will my house require additional wiring?

Yes.  A Level 2 charging station requires a dedicated 240-volt circuit.

What is a charging station (EVSE), and why is it required?

The technical name for these products is EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), commonly called a charging station or charging dock. These charging stations are built into the EV charging standard for electrical safety; first for the user, then the vehicle, and then the power grid. The charging station’s primary function is as electrical safety equipment. A standard home charging station, whether it is a Level 1 (120V) station or a Level 2 (240V) station, will provide pass-through AC power to the vehicle for charging. The vehicle will convert this AC power to DC power and utilize that to recharge the batteries, the actual charger is on-board the vehicle. A charging station implements several layers of redundant safety features to protect the user from potential electrical hazards while connecting and disconnecting the station to the vehicle for charging.  Once connected to the vehicle the station will inform the vehicle that power is available and at what level. From that point, the vehicle takes over, initiates and takes full control of the power transfer, unless an electrical fault occurs, in which case the station will stop the power transfer immediately.

What is a Level 1 charging station?

A Level 1 charging station uses a 120 volt / 15 amp circuit.  The EVSE plugs directly into a standard home outlet. Most PEVs from major car manufactures will have a Level 1 EVSE included in the car.  These are considered to be “trickle” chargers by manufacturers of battery-only Electric Vehicles.

What is a Level 2 charging station?

A charging station using a 220 volt/15-110 amp electrical circuit.  Usually hard-wired, it requires a dedicated electrical circuit.

Why purchase a Level 2 EVSE if a Level 1 EVSE is included with the PEV?

Reduced charging time (up to 60% in most cases) and increased safety – no dangerous plugs for prying little fingers.

What is the difference in charging time between a Level 1 EVSE, Level 2 EVSE, and Level 3 EVSE?

A Level 2 charging station can reduce the charge time for a Nissan Leaf from 25 hours down to 7.3 hours.  Charge time for a Chevrolet Volt can go from 11 hours to 3.2 hours (see table below).

 Level 1Level 2Level 3
Price$200 – $300$450 – $2,200$50,000+
Amps2020 – 80100 – 500
Volts120240480
kW1.86 – 10up to 320
Charge Per Hour2 – 5 miles25 – 35 miles250 – 300 miles

What incentives are available for EVs and EV charging stations?

There are currently federal and state incentives for the purchase of qualifying EVs and charging stations. These incentives together can reduce the cost by upwards of $10,000. For more information, click here.

Glossary:

EV-Connector

EVSE: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (or Charging Station)

PEV: Plug-In Electric Vehicle

PHEV: Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle

BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle

ICE: Internal Combustion Engine

NRTL: Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory

NEC: National Electric Code

ETL: Like UL, is an OSHA-certified Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) that tests, certifies and inspects products to UL, ANSI, CSA, ASTM and NFPA standards for safety and performance.  An ETL listing is the same as a UL listing.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufactured (commonly used by car manufacturers)

DOE: Department of Energy

EIA: Energy Information Administration