EVs are charged while we sleep!
85% of charging happens at home, because for most people that is the most convenient and affordable way to power their driving. Workplace Charging is also used if it is available. Public charging is most valuable in supporting road trips and travel needs.
Get in touch with your electric utility company!
Your electric utility company is happy to help you with your charging setup. Most have special EV rates that provide cheaper electricity during off-peak hours and some even provide charging installation incentives. For Minnesota residents MNCharging.org provides you with a direct link to your own electric utility.
Federal tax credit for EV charging station installations
There is a federal tax credit for the cost of installing EV charging equipment. If you install EV charging equipment between 1/1/2017 and 12/31/2022 in your own garage, you are eligible to claim 30% of costs up to $1,000. For business properties, these limits are 30% of costs up to $30,000. These formulas will change a bit starting January 1, 2023, and there will be additional eligibility requirements: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/10513
Level 1 charging
Level 2 charging
Almost every car comes with a Level 1 charging cord that can be used to charge the car from any standard 120V household outlet. Level 1 charging works well if you drive, on average, less than 30 miles/day. Make sure to have an electrician install a new, high quality outlet for you. All manufacturers (except Tesla) use the standardized J1772 connector for Level 1 and Level 2 charging.
If you want to take full advantage of your EV, you should have an electrician install a 240 V Level 2 charging station. It charges your car much faster and can usually fully charge the battery overnight, no matter how many miles you drive during the day. Usually these require a 40 A breaker and wiring, but some higher power models could require 80 A power.
Condominiums and Apartment buildings
EV charging at Multi Unit Dwellings (MUDs) can be a bit more complicated because there are more stakeholders involved, and usually these installations also lead to more holistic system considerations. Get your utility company involved because they can provide technical assistance and might even have some MUD charging programs in place. You can visit MUDCharging.com for more information.
New outlet installations for Level 1 cord charging and Level 2 charging station installations are relatively easy, so any electrician should be able to do those. If you are considering a special EV rate from the utility or don't have a trusted electrician, talk with your utility company because they usually have a list of electricians that are experienced in EV charging station installations.
Many employers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and one way to do that is to encourage employees to use more sustainable transportation for commuting. Walking, biking and public transportation are naturally great options, but companies are also looking to provide charging infrastructure to encourage EV adoption among those employees who still choose to use a personal car for commuting. Workplace charging can increase the electric vehicle miles traveled, increase the EV awareness among employees and even provide crucial charging infrastructure for those employees who, for any reason, haven't been able to install charging at their place of residence. Learn more about potential approaches and get support from our EMPOWER coalition members www.WorkplaceCharging.com
Visit and Destination charging
The most important thing about public charging is to think about dwell time. Time that people spend in grocery stores is measured in minutes (Visit charging.) For these locations, DC fast charging is the right choice. Hotels, resorts, and parks are examples of places where people usually spend hours. These are destinations and in most cases Level 2 charging is the best fit.
Charging can be a great marketing tool because EV owners use mapping apps to choose where to visit and stay.
In addition to everyday errands around town, people are increasingly using their EVs for longer trips. That is where we need corridor charging. This requires DC Fast Charging (DCFC) and these stations are installed along highway corridors or near busy highway intersections around bigger metro areas. Usually people stop between 20-40 minutes at these charging stations. It is good time to grab a bite to eat, visit the bathroom and check email, so this provides good opportunities for local businesses. There are three kinds of DCFC connectors used in the US. Tesla has its own connector and Tesla runs its own Supercharging network. CHAdeMO is used by Nissan and Mitsubishi and CCS by all other manufacturers. Check the available connectors when you look at the locations with a mapping app.
How to find public charging stations
Some cars have decent navigation systems that also provide charging station information, but usually crowd-sourced apps provide the most up to date information. Here are the most commonly used apps:
There are also some tools that help you plan for longer road trips:
How to pay for public charging
Some of the public charging stations are free, but a growing number of station owners do collect fees for charging. This is a good development, since it keeps charging stations available for those who really need to use them. Usually lower powered charging stations (Level 2) are more affordable to use and DC Fast Charging stations that provide higher power and faster charging are more expensive to use. This is understandable since DCFC infrastructure is more expensive to install, and due to high power levels station owners need to pay demand charges to the electric utility. Clearly these stations are not cheap to operate. You can expect to always pay more for electricity at public charging stations than what it would cost you to charge at home. Usually you can pay with a credit card, either by using a credit card reader or over the phone. If you use public charging stations regularly, we recommend seeing which charging network provider operates the stations that you use. By setting up a prepaid account with them, you can get cheaper rates and use the stations with the operator's smart phone app or RFID card. Charging station mapping apps list which network provider operates which station.
How well do different standards support road trips?
As mentioned above, there are three DCFC connector standards used in the US: Tesla, CCS and CHAdeMO. The Tesla connector is used by Tesla on its own Supercharging network. Non-Tesla CFC units have CCS and/or CHAdeMO connectors. CHAdeMO is used only by older Nissan and Mitsubishi models, so we are seeing charging network developers prioritizing CCS in most non-Tesla units. CHAdeMO availability is starting to be so spotty that we don't recommend doing road trips with CHAdeMO equipped battery electric vehicles.
Tesla started building the Supercharging network in 2012, and in early 2014 the network enabled the first coast to coast trips. At the same time the first CHAdeMO/CCS charging stations were installed, but most of those installations went to major metro areas. So non-Tesla installations used to be more urban focused, but in recent years network providers like Electrify America, EVGo and utility companies have started to fund more CCS corridor charging locations. The Tesla Supercharging network still provides better coverage for longer road trips, but CCS standard installations are starting to catch up. Tesla charging locations also usually have at least 6-10 stations at each location whereas most older CCS locations used to be equipped with just one or two stations. This, again, is changing with recent installations, but check out the number of stations available on the routes you most commonly drive.
When you make decisions on which EV to purchase, DCFC charging speed and the station availability can be one factor, but remember to also consider how high to prioritize it. Some drivers use DCFC stations fairly regularly, some once or twice per month, but a good number of drivers end up using DC fast charging only a couple of times a year, if even that.
Tesla Supercharging locations in the US and Canada
1674 locations, 17,359 connectors. (12/2022, DOE)
CHAdeMO and CCS Combo locations in the US and Canada
6257 locations, 12,674 connectors. (12/2022, DOE)