Everything you need to know about Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations!
Unlike a gasoline-powered car, a major advantage of an electric vehicle is that you can plug it into an EV charging station at home or on the go.
It’s one thing to plug into an electrical outlet at home. But large EV charging stations looming at the end of a suburban parking lot or in an urban parking garage open up a world of questions.
Good News! We have the answer and a reminder that there’s no reason to fear what a very different infrastructure for electric cars is from what you’re used to with gas cars.
Spoiler alert: Electric cars are a cinch to charge once you’ve got the basics down.
Electric Car Charging Station Location Apps
First things first. Download the Charging Station Location app to your smartphone. Sure, each EV’s built-in navigation system can point you to charging stations. But this is only half the battle. You want the latest information, and many apps can tell you if plugs are in use and if the station is at fault. This can save you a lot of frustration, although admittedly station defects are rare.
By far the most popular app is PlugShare, which relies on users to provide information about charging stations. You will get to know about any recent changes. For example, is the EV charger in a parking lot under construction, and those chargers temporarily off-limits?
The PlugShare works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can hook it up to most late-model EV touchscreens.
One backup you absolutely must download is ChargePoint. Sometimes it’s easier to compare the two, and many users report that ChargePoint is more user-friendly.
Individual charging station providers such as Avago and ChargePoint also have their own apps, which can allow for easy monitoring of your connected vehicle.
Are Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations Free?
Some, yes, are free. But free EV charging stations are far less common than stations where you pay.
You might be surprised how much it would cost to charge an electric car at a public charging station.
Generally speaking, most charging stations will charge by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). What they charge is a lot more than what it would cost to plug your electric car at home. Most homes in the United States pay around 12 cents per kWh on average, and it’s unlikely you’ll find many public chargers that offer to juice up your EV for less than that.
In many cases, individual station owners fix the charging prices. Just because the charger has a ChargePoint logo on it, doesn’t mean the one in front of a favorite coffee shop at your local grocery station will cost the same.
Some major retailers like Whole Foods currently offer free chargers in many locations, though realistically, this benefit is bound to end at some point.
Additionally, most new car dealers offer free on-site charging stations, although their usefulness is questionable. For one, car dealers’ locations tend not to be in the most convenient areas. Also dealers will have to use them for their cars. After hours, many dealers close the gates to prevent drivers from even reaching those stations.
In short: don’t expect to get by with free charging forever.
Still, it only costs a few dollars to add more than 100 miles to most electric cars, and makes plugging in cheaper and greener than filling up with unleaded ones. Oh, and electric vehicle charging stations are cleaner than gas stations.
How to use car charging station?
Most public EV charging stations will require you to sign up for an account, though it’s fairly simple. These networks will store your credit card on file and will usually give you a card to wave in front of the charger to activate it. Hint: Put that card in your glove box or center console.
From there, charging couldn’t be easier – and cleaner.
- Pop open charging port
- Hold the charger by its holster
- Plug in, and be gone for a while.
Pro tip: Find a charging station near a restaurant or coffee shop, should you need to cut down on time.
A display at the charging station will show you how much electricity (and how much money) you’ve added to your electric car. And there will be a clearly marked phone number you can call if you have questions or need assistance.
Most public charging stations provide Level 2 power, adding 25 miles per hour to the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Level 3 chargers, also known as direct current fast chargers, provide more power, but they are much less common.
Tesla’s Supercharger network offers DC fast charging, but only for that automaker’s vehicles. And it brings up an important note for Tesla owners. To use a non-Tesla charger, you’ll need a commonly available adapter for less than $100.
How to set up a car charging station at home?
The most convenient places to top are the places where your electric vehicle will be parked most often: home and work. At home, you’ll want a Level 2 charger, which requires 240-volt power pretty close to the car.
Drivers who park in a private garage or even a driveway will have no problem. It’s generally easy to connect 240 volt power to a garage. The plug needed for the charger is the same as for an electric clothes dryer.
A brief survey of electricians nationwide found an average installation cost of about $250 for a 240-volt outlet. However, several factors can make this estimate more expensive. That said, many new homes are built with housing for electric cars.
From there, you’ll have to choose a charger – plan to spend between $400 and $700. The charger plugs into your new 240-volt outlet and features a cable that plugs into your car. Long cables are available for most chargers for drivers who need a charger inside the garage but should park outside.
Drivers who park the street or use apartment or condo garages may need to come up with another solution. Municipalities typically taunt a charging cable extending to a car on the sidewalk, and installing your charger in a multi-storey garage is, of course, a no-go.
General Questions and Answers
How long does it take to charge an EV?
There are several factors that determine how long it takes to replace an electric car, including:
- Power source
- Battery size
- Vehicle charge rate
- Charging Capacity
How far can an electric car go on a single charge?
How far an electric car can go depends on several factors such as:
- Your Battery size
- Electric car Battery Health
- Weather in your area.
- Features being used, such as A/C in hot weather.
How fast are you driver?
Every EV is different, so we recommend that you speak to the manufacturer and get tips on how to maximize your range.
Source: Andrew Ganz, Kelley Blue Book