Electric Vehicles

Understanding Electric Vehicle Charging

Daniel Gonzalez and Henry Tregenza
November 29, 2021

Not everything about electric vehicle charging is intuitive. We break down some confusing aspects here.

Read time
 min read

Consumers are bombarded with different charging options across the board for electric vehicles...but what is the best way to charge an electric car at home? What even is the difference between level 1 and level 2 charging? What is an EVSE? BEV? PHEV? Is driving an electric car even worth it? Let’s get to the bottom of the most common questions associated with at home car charging. 

Level 1 Charging

To start off, level 1 charging (L1) is the slowest form of charging and is done from a standard wall outlet (110 or 120 volts), the same kind of outlet you’d charge your phone with. L1 charging, generally speaking, adds 3–5 miles of driving range every 1 hour of charging. To put this into perspective, it would take approximately 3 days to fully charge a Tesla Model 3, who has that kind of time to wait for a charge. Additionally, L1 chargers are more geared for hybrids, or PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles), that have a low (20–30) electric mile range and still heavily depend on gas. 

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging (L2) is where you want to be for at home charging. Level 2 is done at home with an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), also known as an EV charging station. You’ll need a bigger power source, usually a NEMA 10-30, 14-30, or 14-50 outlet, a larger outlet you’d plug a dryer or other large home appliance into. Level 2 charging usually adds 15–25 miles of range per hour of charging, and it is the go-to method for homeowners. Unfortunately, people that either rent, live in multi-family complexes, or live in apartments usually can’t charge at home given that they don’t have authority to install charging.

Saving Your Money

Now for the fun stuff, how much are you going to save? While this varies depending on how much you charge, your price per kW/h, and time of use, the vast majority of studies find that charging an electric vehicle costs less than fueling a gas-powered car. For example, one study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that an average user would pay $1,400 per year on gas, while an EV owner would only spend $540 on costs to recharge. 

As you can tell, there are a few different components that go into home car charging, but many solutions are out there for whatever your specific case may be. Knowing the best option for your personal use case is key for keeping your car charged and ready to go.

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