EVs are charged while we sleep!
85% of charging happens at home, so first, focus on figuring out your home charging setup. After that you can take a look at public charging to support your road trips and travel needs.
Get in touch with your electric utility company!
Your electric utility company is happy to help you with your charging setup. Most have special EV rates that provide cheaper electricity during off-peak hours and some even provide charging installation incentives. For Minnesota residents MNCharging.org provides you with a direct link to your own electric utility.
Federal tax credit for EV charging station installations
There is a federal tax credit for the cost of installing EV charging equipment. If you install EV charging equipment between 1-1-2017 and 12/31/2020 to your own garage, you are eligible to claim 30% of costs up to $1,000. For business properties, these limits are 30% of costs up to $30,000.
Level 1 charging
Level 2 charging
Every car comes with a Level 1 charging cord that can be used to charge the car from any standard 120V household outlet. Level 1 charging works well if you, on average, drive less than 30 miles/day. Make sure to have an electrician install a new, high quality outlet for you.
All manufacturers (except Tesla) use the standardized J1772 connector for Level 1 and Level 2 charging.
If you want to take a full advantage of your EV, you should have an electrician install a 240 V Level 2 charging station. It charges your car much faster and can usually fully charge the battery overnight no matter how many miles you drive during the day. Usually these require a 40 A breaker and wiring, but some higher power models could require 80 A power.
Condominiums and Apartment buildings
EV charging at Multi Unit Dwellings (MUDs) can be a bit more complicated because there are more stakeholders involved and usually these installations also lead to more holistic system considerations. Get your utility company involved because they can provide technical assistance and might even have some MUD charging programs in place. You can visit MUDCharging.com for more information.
New outlet installations for Level 1 cord charging and Level 2 charging station installations are relatively easy, so any electrician should be able to do those. If you are considering a special EV rate from the utility or don't have an trusted electrician, talk with your utility company because they usually have a list of electricians that are experienced in EV charging station installations.
Many employers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and one way to do that is to encourage employers to use more sustainable transportations for commuting. Walking, biking and public transportation are naturally great options, but companies are also looking to provide charging infrastructure to encourage EV adoption among those employees who still choose to use a personal car for commuting. Workplace charging can increase the electric vehicle miles traveled, increase the EV awareness among employees and even provide crucial charging infrastructure for those employees who, for any reason, haven't been able to install charging at their place of residence. Learn more about the potential approaches and options by visiting www.WorkplaceCharging.com
Visit and Destination charging
Grocery stores and shopping malls often install Level 2 charging stations to attract customers to shop at their stores (Visit charging.) Level 2 charging is also a valuable amenity for EV drivers at hotels, resorts, parks and other locations where people will spend more than an hour. This is called destination charging.
Charging can be a great marketing tool because EV owners use mapping apps to choose where to visit and stay.
DC Fast Charging
DC Fast Charging is the quickest way to recharge the battery on the go. Usually these stations are installed by highway corridors or by the busy highway intersections around the bigger metro areas. Usually people stop between 20-60 minutes at these charging stations, so it is good time to grab a bite to eat, visit the bathroom and check out some emails. This provides good opportunities for local businesses. There are three kinds of DCFC connectors used in the US. Tesla has its own connector and Tesla runs its own Supercharging network. Other DCFC locations have units that usually provide two cables to choose from: CHAdeMO is used by Nissan and Mitsubishi and CCS by all other manufacturers. Check the available connectors when you look at the locations with a mapping app.
How to find public charging stations?
Some cars have decent navigation systems that also provide the charging station information, but usually crowd sourced apps provide the most up to date information. Here are the most commonly used apps:
There are also some tools that help you plan for longer road trips:
How to pay for public charging?
Some of the public charging stations are free, but an increasing number of station owners do collect fees for charging. This is a good development since it keeps the charging stations available for those who really need to use them. Usually lower powered charging stations (Level 2) are more affordable to use and DC Fast Charging stations that provide higher power and faster charging are more expensive to use. This is understandable since DCFC infrastructure is more expensive to install and due to high power levels these station owners need to pay demand charges to electric utility, so these stations are not cheap to operate either. You can expect to always pay more for electricity at the public charging stations than what it would cost you to charge at home. Usually you can pay with a credit card either by using a credit card reader or over the phone. If you use public charging stations regularly we would recommend seeing which charging network provider operates the stations that you use. By setting up a prepaid account with them you can get cheaper rates and use the stations with the operator's smart phone app or RFID card. Charging station mapping apps list which network provider operates which station.
How well do different standards support road trips?
There are presently three DCFC connectors used in the US: Tesla, CHAdeMO and CCS. The Tesla connector is used by Tesla on it's own Supercharging network. Non Tesla CFC units have CHAdeMO and/or CCS connectors. CHAdeMO is used only by Nissan and Mitsubishi so we can expect charging network developers prioritizing CCS in most non-Tesla units. Presently, however, almost all of them still include a CHAdeMO connector too. In this text we use a C&C abbreviation for CHAdeMO/CCS charging stations.
Tesla started building the Supercharging network in 2012 and in early 2014, the network enabled the first coast to coast trips. At the same time Nissan was funding a lot of CHAdeMO/CCS (C&C) charging stations but most of those installations were going to the major metro areas. This trend of Tesla focusing on the corridor charging network and C&C installations going to metro areas continued for a long time and it has just started to change when Electrify America, EVGo and utility companies have started to fund more C&C corridor charging locations. This difference can be seen in the Tesla Charging Station and C&C charging station location map comparisons below. The Tesla Supercharging network clearly provides better coverage for longer road trips but there are more C&C stations in urban areas. Tesla charging locations also usually have 6-10 stations at each location whereas most C&C locations used to be equipped with just one station. This, again, is changing with recent installations, but check out the number of stations available on the routes you most commonly drive. The other factor is the DCFC power levels of both the vehicles and the charging stations. Tesla Supercharging network stations provide a minimum of 125kW power and the V3 units provide up to 250kW. Tesla vehicles' max DCFC charging rates are between 120 and 250kW depending on the model. Most of the existing C&C stations are 50kW units and most of the existing C&C capable vehicles can't use higher than a 50kW power level. New EVs with bigger batteries will be able to charge using 100-350kW power levels and this is also reflected in new charging station installations when a bigger portion of C&C stations installed provide 100-350kW max power. Tesla still has an advantage on this front but the gap is closing fast.
When you make decisions on which EV to purchase, DCFC charging speed and the station availability can be one factor, but remember to also consider how high to prioritize it. Some drivers use DCFC stations fairly regularly, some once or twice per month, but a good number of drivers end up using DC fast charging only a couple of times a year, if even that.
Tesla Supercharging locations in the US and Canada
854 locations, 8167 connectors. (02/2020, DOE)
CHAdeMO and CCS Combo locations in the US and Canada
3336 locations, 6644 connectors. (02/2020, DOE)