Many new electric car buyers believe that finding charging stations is the most challenging aspect of EV ownership, and that waiting for their car to charge will be an onerous task, because we’ve all been conditioned to refuel our cars by driving to a gas station and waiting there while the car refuels. When it comes to charging electric vehicles, the entire refueling paradigm is different. Charging your EV actually looks a lot more like charging your cell phone or laptop, than it does refueling your gasoline car. Most people plug in their cell phones at night and start out the day with a full electric car battery life. When they have access to charge their phone or laptop at work or elsewhere, they might plug it in to top off the battery.
Electric cars have a similar charging pattern. Studies have shown that as much as 95% of electric vehicle charging is done at home. After home charging, the workplace is the most common place to plug in. So the fear of being able to find charging stations, and then the need to wait for your EV to charge is overblown. That’s because the chargers are located at the places where you already spend the most time, and your EV charges while you’re sleeping or working. The need for public charging is an edge use case for most people, and home charging will continue to be the backbone of EV infrastructure needed to support high EV penetration. That said, public charging supports universal access, and provides convenience and psychological comfort for all other "edge" driving cases. Both are needed and work hand in hand.
And most electric car owners agree, there’s really nothing more convenient than plugging in at home. Electric car charging at home is also a much better experience than filling up at the pump for a number of reasons:
- No need to go out of your way to drive to a gas station and wait for a pump to be open.
- You don’t need to touch a dirty gas nozzle.
- You won’t smell like gasoline for awhile after plugging in.
- Electricity costs much less than gasoline, making your MPGe much cheaper.
- It only takes about 10 seconds to grab the connector, open the charge port and plug in.
- You can leave home with a “full tank” every day with a level 2 JuiceBox smart charger.
Which home charging station is right for you?
Most electric cars today come standard with a portable level 1, 120 volt charger. A level 1 electric vehicle charger will charge it at a rate of roughly 4 to 5 miles per hour. These slow chargers may work fine for plug-in hybrid (PHEV) because they have small batteries and aren’t capable of storing much energy. However, a battery electric car, or BEV, can store more renewable energy than a level 1 charger can replenish overnight. Some large battery BEVs can take as long as three days to fully recharge on a level 1 charger, and that’s just not convenient. Therefore, most BEV owners purchase and install a 240 volt, level 2 charging station for their electric car charging at home.
There are a lot of home EV charger choices available today, so how do you know which one is right for you? Whatever you’re looking to purchase, it’s always a good idea to check and see what the experts say. This recent EV charging station buyers guide answers a lot of the questions that would-be EVSE buyers might have, and selected JuiceBox as its top pick.
Here are some of the important factors to consider when shopping for an EV charging station:
Safety certification: Make sure it’s UL certified to ensure safety. Electric car charging at home is very safe, as long as the equipment you’re using has been thoroughly tested and certified. Some of the less expensive, budget chargers on the market are not UL tested and certified and have very short warranties, because the quality can’t be ensured.
Cable length: Make sure the charging cable is long enough. Some charging stations come with cables as short as only 12 feet long. That may be long enough for charging on most days, but you should consider the future when you may have another EV. Different EVs have different locations for their charging ports. Some are on the front of the car, some on the side and some in the rear. Make sure you get a charging station that has a cable long enough to reach any point of your garage or driveway, for future consideration. For this reason, we recommend a cable that is at least 20 feet in length. Our JuiceBox stations come with cables up to 24 feet.
Power: Future proof your investment with a powerful charging station. While all level 2 charging stations operate on 240 volts, they are offered in a wide range of amperage. Some can only deliver 16 amps, while others can deliver up to 80 amps. Most EVs today can accept at least 30 amps, so we recommend buying a charging station that can deliver at least 32 amps. If you want to really future proof your investment, a 40 amp charging station might be your best choice.
Rated for outdoors: If you’re installing the charging station outdoors, make sure it’s built to withstand extreme weather, so it lasts a long time. Many charging stations that are “outdoor rated” aren’t rated for extreme weather, which we all know happens from time to time. Before buying an electric car home charging station, make sure it’s NEMA-4 rated for extreme weather. Some charging stations are only NEMA-3 rated and can allow water, dust and other elements to enter the enclosure under extreme conditions.
Smart charging: A dumb charger simply supplies power to your car when you plug in. Smart chargers can charge your car just the same, but offer a host of additional benefits. You can schedule the charging times to take advantage of reduced time-of-use electricity rates, view records of past charging sessions and calculate your total electricity use for the car, possibly earn money by participating in demand response programs with your utility, and some fast chargers like the JuiceBox even allow Amazon Alexa integration, which makes living the EV life even more convenient.