Basic Electrical Options for Charging Your Electric Vehicle: Part 1
Updated: Feb 28
You're driving down the highway and you look down at your gas gauge. It’s hovering around 1/8th of a tank and you’re not really sure how accurate that is, so you start looking for the nearest gas station, when it happens: a gleaming white Nissan Leaf, or maybe a sporty silver Tesla Model S, sweeps past you, quiet as a whisper, in the fast lane. And, not for the first time, you think to yourself, “Must be nice not to worry about running out of gas and looking for the nearest Valero all the time. I could just plug in at night and wake up to a fully charged electric vehicle!”
But then this thought is quickly replaced by “Sure, but I have no idea how the whole charging process works. It must be expensive and complicated to set up. Guess I’ll just stick with fossil fuels for now.”
It can be confusing and a little overwhelming at first, but the reality is that there are a few, relatively straightforward, EV (shorthand for Electric Vehicle) charging options to consider. The good news is that they’re not complicated, ranging from do-it-yourself to “better make a quick call to an electrician”.
The Electric Vehicle Charging Options:
Level 1 Charging (no need to call the electrician): The simplest option for home charging is a Level 1 charger that uses a 120-volt outlet to charge your car at home in the safety of your own garage. Most cars come with a level one charger, which is essentially an adapter that allows you to plug your EV into a standard wall outlet. On the plus side, it’s by far the simplest option; all you do is plug your Tesla (or Nissan Leaf, or Chevy Volt if you prefer) into the wall and walk away. The downside is that this is also the slowest option. It can take 16-20 hours to fully charge an empty battery this way, so the best thing to do if you’re relying on a level one charger is to plug in at every opportunity to keep the battery topped up and ready to go. If you mainly drive around town during the day, to and from work, running errands, and plug in every night, this option may work perfectly for you.
Level 2 Charging (you might need to call your electrician): This is a faster option than Level one, and it requires a 240-volt outlet. As you might imagine, this cuts recharge time in half (240 volts being twice as much as 120 volts) and so you can charge that empty battery in around 8 hours’ time. That’s the obvious plus side to Level 2 charging. The slight downside is that it requires a 240-volt outlet in your home, along with some additional charging equipment that can handle the higher voltage. The good news is that you don’t need to completely rewire your house to add a 240-volt outlet, and an electrician can get the job done for you in a matter of a couple of hours (you likely already have a 220 or 240-volt outlet in your house if you have an electric dryer). You can find the necessary charging equipment online, through your dealer, or sometimes even at local home improvement stores. (And of course, we can help with that part too, along with installing the right wiring.)
Level 3 Charging: Level 3 uses a 480-volt outlet and can quickly charge an empty battery in around 30 minutes. This solution is by far the fastest, but at the moment you’ll have to find a station outside your home to take advantage of Level 3 EV charging, as you’d need special permitting and likely permission from your electrical service provider to install one. Also,
you’ll want to confirm that your EV can handle Level 3 charging, so check the manual or call your dealer to confirm before you try it for the first time. Stations that offer this service will have the appropriate plug for your car, as they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. They may charge an additional fee for the service, too. When you’re out on the road and are looking for this option, it will be shown as level 3 or 480-volt charging. It can also be called DC or DCFC, which stands for “Direct Current Fast Charging”.
Now that we’ve tackled the 3 main options for charging, let us know what questions you may have in the comments below! And be on the lookout for Part 2 of the series where we’ll dig into a little more detail and talk about the pros and cons of Electric Vehicle ownership.
And as always, feel free to give us a call at 972-562-7724 to learn more or set up an appointment with one of our licensed electricians. Thanks for reading and happy motoring!
IES Home Electrical Services is a McKinney-based electrical company dedicated to providing area homeowners with the best quality of work and unparalleled customer service, backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Proudly serving McKinney, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Gunter, Anna, Aubrey, Bonham, Crossroads, Melissa, Sherman, Farmersville, Little Elm, Princeton, Prosper, Van Alstyne, Hackberry, and Denison.
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