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Charging Your PEV

Once you determine which plug-in electric vehicle is right for you, then you'll need to start thinking about how you're going to charge your new car.

There are several charging station options – each with their own features and benefits. The main difference is the voltage associated with the technologies, the higher the voltage, the quicker the charge.

RESIDENTIAL CHARGING OPTIONS

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Level 1 Charging Stations – 120 Volts

PEVs can be charged by connecting the vehicle to a standard, 120-volt outlet – the same type of outlet you use for everything from a hair dryer to your cell phone charger. Simply use a SAE-standard, J1772 charging connector, which is included with new PEV purchases, to link the vehicle to the outlet.

Charging a PEV using this 120-volt method can take anywhere from eight to 20 hours, depending on the size of the battery.

Level 2 Charging Stations – 240 Volts

If you’re interested in faster charging times, then you should consider installing a 240-volt, Level 2 charging station at your home. These stand-alone charging units are powered by 240-volt electrical outlets – the same capacity used by standard household air conditioners and clothes dryers – and can usually charge a PEV in four to eight hours.

In most cases, you’ll need a new 240-volt outlet installed in your garage or wherever you plan to charge your vehicle. Installation costs for the 240-volt outlet and charging station can vary depending on the age of your home’s electric system, its configuration, and where you intend to position the charging station. The J1772 charging connector is attached to the cord, and a standard component of the Level 2 charging station. It plugs directly into your vehicle. The average total cost, including the installation, is around $1,000.

Level 2 "Smart Charging" Options

Level 2 charging stations with communications capabilities are known as smart charging stations.  Depending on the owner's preferences and needs, a smart charging station may be the preferred option.  Smart Charging stations cost more than charging stations without communication capabilities. The average total cost for a Smart Charging Station, including the installation, is around $2,500.

 

Level 1
120-Volts

Level 2
240-Volts

Charge time – small battery
(hybrid vehicles)

6 to 8 hours

3 to 4 hours

Charge time for medium battery
(all-electric vehicles)

18 to 20 hours

9 to 10 hours

Purchase

Charger comes with car and plugs into any wall outlet

Charging station sold separately

Installation

N/A

Requires location assessment, possible electrical upgrades,
installation and final inspection

Cost of charger

$0

$500 to $1,000 (basic models)
$1,500 to $2,000 (smart models)

Cost of installation

$0 to $500*

Average installation is $1,000**

*Installing a wall outlet in garage
**Actual cost determined by results of pre-installation home assessment

DC Fast Fast Charging Stations – Up to 600 Volts

Although it is not likely to be used in a residential setting, there third type of charging station is known as DC Fast Charging Station.   These stations use up to 600 volts of direct-current power to recharge vehicles in a matter of minutes – potentially only 15 minutes to reach an 80 percent charge. These types of charging stations are beginning to appear in commercial environments and are intended to function like your neighborhood gas station – just fill up and go.  This technology is not a viable option for residential use because of the expense of purchasing the technology, upgrading a home's electrical system and high voltage safety concerns.  DC Fast Charging Station standards have not yet been established globally.

Public Charging Station Locations

While home charging is predicted to be the predominant charging location, public-access charging stations are being installed across the country. Today, the best single source for locating a charging station near you is the US Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Data Center's website. Click here to find a charging station near you.