What You Need to Know About Your Home EV Charger
More than ten million people worldwide have made the move to owning electric cars in the last few years, and millions more are expected to join the club. While EV automakers continue to impress shoppers with impressive performance, tech features, and style, drivers generally have concerns about keeping their electric vehicles fully charged.
A new electric vehicle comes with a power cord identified as a Level 1 charger. While Level 1 chargers technically allow charging an EV at home, they tend to be slow, inefficient, and potentially unsafe. The bottom line is that the Level 1 charger with your electric vehicle will not cut it.
Read on to learn more about your EV charger options and how Watson’s Charging Stations & Electric can help you enjoy the convenience and cost savings of EV charger installation at your home or business.
The Problems with a Level 1 EV Charger
A Level 1 EV charger is essentially a power cord for an electric vehicle. On one side of the cord, it looks like a typical household plug, and the other end matches your vehicle’s charging port. In theory, you can simply plug your charging cable into any household outlet.
For drivers who use their EV as a secondary vehicle or have the luxury of short commutes, a Level 1 charger might be sufficient for their EV charging needs. For most drivers, however, the basic EV charger has several significant drawbacks.
Slow and Inefficient Charging
The output of a Level 1 charger leaves a lot to be desired. It produces 1.3 kW to 2.4 kW, which adds three to five miles of electric driving range per hour. Even after 12 hours of charging, your EV would only be able to drive between 36 - 60 miles before needing more time on your EV charger.
A Level 1 charger might be perfect if you drive a plug-in hybrid vehicle that only offers a shorter electric driving range, but it is problematic for those with longer driving routes. Even an EV with a moderate electric driving range could require 17 - 25 hours on the charger, which is time you are not out on the road.
The idea of a Level 1 charger is pretty straightforward: just plug it into any outlet in your garage or house and forget about it. The problem is that using any old circuit in your home could be dangerous.
An EV charger will pull about 80% of the power your circuit breaker can handle. If something else on that circuit starts to draw power, you could trip the breaker or cause damage to your electrical grid. You will also find that most builder-grade outlets may not provide a tight enough grip on the plug, resulting in loose connections. The best case scenario is that your car does not charge; the worst case is that this loose connection can cause overheating, damaged equipment, or even fires.
If you decide to use your Level 1 charger at home, even if only as a backup or temporary option, consult with an electrician and consider adding a dedicated circuit for your EV home charger.
Not Cost Effective
While a Level 1 EV charger might come with your electric vehicle at no additional cost, it is not necessarily the most cost-effective way to charge your car. Sure, any electric car home charger will be less expensive than buying fuel at your local gas station, but the lack of charging speed and efficiency will cost you.
Drivers who cannot get a sufficient charge at home often have to find electric vehicle charging stations along their route. While these EV chargers are faster than a Level 1 charger, they also cost more. The average homeowner pays $0.13 per kWh of electricity, which means a standard EV costs around $9.00 to charge fully at home. Public electric vehicle charging stations charge between $0.20 and $0.60 per kWh, which could cost between $13.86 and $41.40 for a full charge. Frequent stops at a public charging station could invalidate the cost savings of moving from gas to electric.
There Is a Better Way: Level 2 Home Charger
It does not take long to realize that Level 1 charging will not meet your needs. The good news is that you have options starting with upgrading to a Level 2 home EV charger. A Level 2 electric vehicle home charger delivers between 6.2 kW to 19.2 kW, giving your EV an average of 32 miles of electric driving range per hour of charging.
Some electric vehicles come with, or you can add a Level 2 charging cable. This cable plugs into a 240-volt outlet, much like an electric dryer or range. Since most garages do not come equipped with a 240-volt outlet, you will need an electrical contractor to add the appropriate circuit to your desired location. You may also need to upgrade your electrical service to handle the additional draw. Your electrician can help evaluate your current system and determine your needs, including tossing the charging cable and going for an EV charging station.
The Benefits of a Level 2 EV Charging Station
EV charging stations offer a variety of benefits for anyone who owns or is planning to buy an electric vehicle. For starters, being able to charge at home is much more convenient and cost-effective than having to find public EV charging stations. A Level 2 charging station can fully charge overnight, meaning you can enjoy your EV’s battery’s total capacity daily.
A charging station is a safer charging option for your EV. Your Level 2 charging station creates a barrier between your home’s electrical grid and your car. That means you have an extra line of protection in case of an electrical surge. More importantly, you do not have to worry about the risk of too much heat from leaving a cable plugged into the wall for multiple hours at a time.
Modern charging stations even allow you to schedule when and how it charges your vehicle. You could, for example, limit charging during peak hours when electricity costs more and only charge during less expensive hours.