Where to charge an electric car
The electric vehicle movement continues to gain momentum and with several more battery powered models being released this year and next, EV adoption will continue to grow exponentially. While internal combustion vehicles have only one option for fueling up—EV drivers have a variety of affordable and convenient options from which to choose.
One of the many perks of owning an electric vehicle is that you can charge your EV from the comfort of your own home. Not only is home charging far more convenient than constant trips to the gas station, but it also saves you money. Despite initial upfront costs, at-home charging saves precious time and money, so switching to an electric vehicle is a no-brainer.
When discussing home charging stations, it is important to understand the two primary types:
- Level 1 chargers are compatible with standard household 120-volt outlets and can add around 5 miles of range per hour. Vehicles with batteries under 10 kWh will be okay using these charging systems, but some drivers still prefer a faster charge.
- Level 2 chargers require more powerful 240V circuits and can add around 30 miles of range per hour. For EVs with bigger batteries, level 2 charging stations are ideal and can provide a full charge overnight.
All EVs come with basic charging units that you can plug into any standard 120-volt wall socket for Level 1 charging.
Charging with your house’s regular current may take up to eight hours, so you can also install a 240-volt charging system in your garage for faster Level 2 charging. Level 2 charging takes about 4 hours to fill your EV’s battery completely, depending on the model. This method is a bit more expensive and requires an electrician for safe installation.
Cost of at home charging
Aside from free public charging (at work or otherwise), at-home charging is the cheapest method for charging your EV. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy research, driving a Chevrolet Bolt EV for 25 miles costs the car owner $0.92, compared to $2.15 in gas for a Chevrolet Cruze. What’s more, that distance—approximately the average commute in the U.S.—is covered by just 1 hour of Level 2 charging. If you are a property owner, learning how to install an EV charger at your apartment complex might even raise your property’s value.
JuiceBox smart charging stations come with a smartphone app that allows owners to schedule charging during off-peak hours, to save even more on electricity and receive additional discounts from their utility.
Home charging enables EV drivers to charge conveniently and economically, however, drivers may need to top off during the day or add additional range to reach their final destination. Luckily, public charging stations are popping up across the country to provide aconvenient and affordable alternative for the EV driver on the go.
Currently, there are around 20,000 charging locations in the U.S. alone, many of which have several charge points. These stations are generally concentrated in areas with higher EV adoption, installed in public parking garages, apartment buildings, car dealerships, retail parking lots, and even on some city streets.
Cost of public charging
The average retail price per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is about $0.12. Of course, the price varies significantly depending on the city and state where you live. EV charging stations follow a variety of payment models to operate:
- Pay by the hour
- Pay per kilowatt-hours
- Pay per session
- Monthly or annual subscription fee—a.k.a., an “all-you-can-eat” model
- Free charging
Understanding each payment type will help inform your choices when finding the best charging stations near you.
You’ve probably heard the classic phrase, there is no such thing as a free lunch. In this case, however, there is such a thing as free charging. What’s more, some public charging stations don’t cost drivers a dime! Although this seems like a financial no-brainer, many consumers still opt for the convenience of at-home charging about 85% of the time as free public stations may be hard to find and experience high traffic.
However, if you plan well and do your research, you can take full advantage of the sprawling network of free and affordable charging stations. Rest assured that both options are cheaper than fueling a car with gas.
Pay by the hour
For the public charging stations that do require a fee, most charge based on time rather than kWh. This detail is important to note, because depending on the model, the cost of 1 hour of charging could vary tremendously. EVs come with onboard chargers that boast different charging rates. Generally, the higher the range of an EV, the faster the onboard EV charger.
For example, a car with a slower onboard charger will cost much more for the same amount of electricity than a car with a fast charger because it will take longer to charge. A 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 3.3-kW charger would cost twice as much to fill as a 2018 Nissan Leaf with a 6.6-kW charger. Fortunately, most EVs come standard with chargers between 6.6- and 7.2-kW.
It is important to unplug your car as soon as the battery is recharged, although not all EV charging stations continue charging once the battery is fully charged. Post capacity billing could leave many absent-minded EV owners quite unhappy.
Pay per session
The previous examples of public charging stations apply mostly to Level 2 240-volt charging. However, some fast chargers provide EVs with 50- or 100-kW, which you can pay for in sessions: one plug-in, in-and-out. This method is very convenient if you are in a rush or just need a small boost to keep you on your way. DC Fast Charging, sometimes called “Level 3” charging, can recharge 80% of your battery in just half-an-hour.
If you have a 60-kWh battery, the best way to take advantage of a fast charger session priced at around $7.50 would be to charge 80% of your battery and just pay for one session. This would result in an approximate cost of $0.16 per kWh.
However, your circumstances when using these per-session chargers won’t always be optimal, so electric vehicle charging with them can end up costing about double what you would pay at home per kWh. For that reason, per-session chargers are ideal for quick top-offs, not daily recharges.
A note on public charging stations
Some DC fast chargers may have charging plug configurations that don’t fit your EV. Adaptors are available to make these chargers available to you, but it is better to avoid non-compatible charging stations altogether. For example, Tesla Superchargers are exclusively available to Tesla owners. Doing your research, especially when planning a trip, could save you a headache.
Charging stations at work
Some companies provide free charging for employees in their garages and parking lots. A majority of at-work charging stations are Level 2 chargers.
Though charging at the workplace is not yet widely common, many states offer incentives for businesses to install on-site charging stations for their employees.
Enel X Way App
Whether you didn’t have the chance to fully charge at home or you just need an extra boost for a long trip, the Enel X Way App will connect you to a wide network of public charging stations near you.
Our app makes managing charging easier than ever. Users can subscribe to their preferred charging service provider, while simultaneously accessing the ever-growing network of charging stations around them. Juicebox provides a seamless and reliable charging experience by following these principles:
- Simple – Access services directly through the app.
- Everything in One App – You can view a map of all charging stations, view scheduling and price details, choose a charging type, reserve a connector, consult charging history, and monitor your recharge session in real-time.
- Universal – You can access any public charging station that is compatible with the app and private charging infrastructures at home or work.
- Personal Profiles – Select private, corporate, domestic, or special profiles.
The e-mobility revolution is coming, and it’s coming fast. Every day, new infrastructure is being built to support the growing community of proactive EV owners like yourself. Soon, you’ll never again have to wonder where to charge an electric car.