Buying an electric vehicle (EV) means being able to skip expensive trips to the pump while protecting our climate and health. But there’s still a learning curve when it comes to charging, from how long it takes to how much it costs. Let’s break down your most pressing questions about EV charging so that you can drive and refuel confidently.
This is EV-speak for plugging the cord set that comes with your EV into a regular 120-volt outlet (the same kind you’d use for, say, a phone charger or a lamp). The gist is that this level of charging is slow—between 40 and 50 hours, if you’re charging from empty. Though it’s worth noting that, on average, U.S. car owners only drive about 31 miles a day. So Level 1 may be enough for your daily needs or in a pinch to add some mileage.
This means you’re charging from a 220-volt outlet (the same kind that heavy-duty appliances like washers use) or hardwired equipment. In this scenario, you can charge from empty in about four to ten hours. Public Level 2 charging stations are common at locations where drivers tend to park, like workplaces or commercial parking lots, but most EV owners also get this version installed in their garage so they can charge overnight.
For the fastest charging speeds, you can turn to Level 3 chargers—also known as DCFC chargers or direct current fast chargers—which can charge your EV from empty in as little as 20 minutes. These public charging stations are more expensive to use, but they are particularly great for time-conscious road-trippers or urban drivers who can’t easily refuel at home. Plus, they’re getting faster. The first generation typically charged vehicles at 50kW, but the ones being installed today are generally at least three times as powerful, with some charging at 350kW.