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Electric Vehicle Charging - 2nd in a Series

Electric Vehicle Charging

Article #2 of a Series

by Randy Brooks, Rotary Club of Lake Chelan, Washington, U.S.A.

Most electric vehicle (EV) charging is done overnight at home.  When someone asks me how long it takes to charge my EV, my favorite answer is “About 5 seconds.  I plug it in, go to bed, and in the morning it’s fully charged!”

Of course, a more in depth answer depends on how large the EV battery is, how discharged it is, and what type of charger is being used.

“Level 1” charging is any standard outlet (120 volts, 15 amps).  Outlets provide about 3 to 4 miles of range for each hour you’re plugged in.  This is pretty slow, but works fine if you don’t drive much each day.  While visiting friends on a long road trip, we plugged into their carport outlet.  Even though we used our EV for daily errands, we were fully charged in three days.  All EVs come with a cord that allows you to plug into any standard outlet.  Having an electrician install an outlet to charge your EV will likely cost less than a few hundred dollars.  Level 1 charging works well for situations where the EV will be there for a day or more, such as residences, long term airport parking, etc.

“Level 2” charging is 220 volt, from 30 to 80 amps.  A Level 2 charging station can provide from 30 to 60 miles of range for each hour you are plugged in.  These “chargers” are more appropriately called Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), because the actual charger for this level is in the EV.  The capability of the charger in the EV, and the amount of amps the EVSE can provide, determines how quickly the EV can be charged.  Usually an EV can be fully charged in two to eight hours, depending on how discharged the battery is.

A Level 2 EVSE comes with a 20’ cord with a standard J-1772 plug on the end.  All EVs have a J-1772 receptacle to allow you to use Level 2 EVSEs, except Tesla’s which come with an adapter to allow use of J-1772 plugs.

Installation of a Level 2 EVSE can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the power output of the EVSE, and circumstances at the installation location.  Level 2 charging works well at locations where the EV will be there for an hour or more, such as home garages, shopping centers, hotels, etc.

“Level 3” charging, also called DCQC (DC Quick Charging), provides 440 volts at up to 150 amps, and can charge at a rate to provide up to 150 miles of range per hour of charge.  These devices are appropriately called “chargers” because they connect directly to the battery of the EV, and controls are in the charging station.  The speed of DCQC chargers makes them desirable for long trips along major highways.  A DCQC charger installation can cost from $50,000 to $100,000.  Three phase power is required.

“Tesla Supercharger” is available only for Tesla EVs.  Tesla has installed over 1,000 Supercharger stations, with over 7,000 charging stalls, across the US, and is installing more quickly to meet the demand of 500,000 Tesla Model 3s currently reserved.  A Tesla Supercharger can provide up to 300 miles of range per hour of charge.  They work great for road trips, topping off the large Tesla batteries in about 40 minutes.  Tesla Superchargers are located along major highways and interstates.

Finding a charging station is relatively easy.  Use the EV nav system, or the web page or phone app, to find charging opportunities along your route.  Click on the pin on the map to see details of the charging station, including the type of charger available and if fees apply.  It’s always a good idea to check the “Comments” section, to see if the station is operational, or if there have been problems charging there.  Many businesses and municipalities offer free EV charging as an attraction for EV drivers to visit and shop.

Charging etiquette is important.  When you leave your EV unattended while you charge, it’s helpful to put a hang tag or note, with your cell phone number, on the vehicle so other EV drivers can contact you if needed.  Most EVs have a phone app that lets you control charging remotely, and sends you a text when charging is complete.  It’s important to return promptly and remove your charged EV from the charging stall, to allow other EVs to charge.

I’ve never had to wait more than a minute or so to charge, but that is going to change as many more EVs are now being offered by just about every major automaker.  But remember that most EV charging is done overnight at home.  You will only need public charging stations when you’re on a road trip.

Happy EVing, and “EV Grin”.

Randy Brooks, 11/28/17