Chances are if you are reading this article you just purchase your first electric car. Congratulations! You have just made a big step in reducing your personal carbon footprint. In addition, you are on your way to saving money as electric vehicles (EVs) are typically cheaper when looking at the total cost of ownership.
However, unlike gas powered cars, EVs need a little bit of preparation in order to fully enjoy and operate the vehicle. Don’t worry, these to do items are fairly simple and once completed do not need to be repeated again.
Let’s get started.
Seven Things To Do After Purchasing Your First Electric Car:
1. Install 240 Volt Outlet for Level 2 Charging
The very first thing you’ll need to do after purchasing your first electric car is plan for home charging.
In most cases, it is best to charge an EV on 240 volts (more commonly known as Level 2 charging). This provides around 25 miles of range per hour.
While the EV comes with a portable Level 1 charger (120 volts like a regular household outlet), it is better to go for Level 2 charging as Level 1 only provides around 4 miles of range per hour.
This step can be the most challenging depending on your home’s situation. For some homeowners, hiring an electrician to install a new 240 volt outlet (just like an electric dryer), is fairly straightforward.
On the other hand, some homeowners may have a more challenging time if the electric panel is far away from the garage or parking stall. As a result, the install cost may be more expensive.
Typically, the cost to install a new, dedicated 240 volt, 40 amp outlet is around $200-500.
Of course renters are in a whole separate situation. Since renters are not allowed to make any permanent modifications to the building without the owner’s consent, they may not be able to install Level 2 charging.
Therefore, renters may need to rely solely on public charging just like how gas powered cars do with gas stations. Thankfully, the number of charging stations is growing rapidly and some current EV owners who are renters have been doing this for years without too much trouble.
2. Purchase Level 2 Charger
While you work with an electrician to install a 240 volt outlet, it is now the time to purchase the Level 2 charger. Each of these chargers have a number of different features such as smart/Wi-Fi capability, charging scheduling, cord length, and power output.
In any case, always look for a charger that has a UL listing. This third-party quality and safety certification ensures consumer safety. There are a lot of cheap chargers found on Amazon. It may be tempting, however, those devices may not have been thoroughly tested and could be defective after a short time. Buyer beware.
It is also important to do a little research to ensure you buy a charger that fits your needs. Some chargers have a lot of bells and whistles. Depending on your preferences, you may not need the most sophisticated charger. Here is an article detailing exactly how to choose the right Level 2 charger.
Level 2 chargers can be purchased from online retailers like Amazon or from the manufacturer’s website. Popular models include the Enel X Juicebox, Chargepoint Home Flex, Clipper Creek HCS-40, and Grizzl-E Home Charger.
The cost for a Level 2 charger is typically around $400-600, however, there is currently a Federal Tax Credit for 30% or $1,000, whichever is less. Therefore, considering the tax credit, the cost of these chargers will be around $280-420.
3. Download EV Smartphone Apps
At first, the means and methods of charging may seem complex to the first-time EV owner. However, after some experience, the process gets a lot easier.
While the vast majority of charging is done at home, EV drivers will still occasionally utilitze public charging stations. To help EV drivers search, plan, and pay for their public charging sessions, it takes a few smartphone apps. Here are some of the must-haves:
Plugshare – Search and Review Charging Stations
By far the best app to search, review, and locate charging stations is Plugshare. Plugshare is crowd-sourced, so it is constantly updated by fellow users as soon as new stations are available. The app is great for EV drivers to find charging stations either nearby the current location or at a specified location. Additionally, you can review a selected station features such as cost, hours of operation, photos, number of ports, type of plug, and user reviews.
You can read a further, detailed review and tutorial on how to use Plugshare over here.
A Better Route Planner – EV Navigation with Built-In Charging Stops
Another great app to have is A Better Route Planner. This app is essential for long distance trip planning with an EV.
Instead of traveling long trips with range anxiety, not knowing where stations are, or how long to charge at them, leave it to A Better Route Planner.
All you need to do is select your EV, your starting location, and your final destination. The app intelligently plans your route with charging stops. Each charging stop will state which station, charging duration, and approximate cost.
Electrify America – Charging Network
Electrify America is one of the fastest growing charging networks in the United States and Canada. Primarily composed of DC Fast Charging stations, Electrify America aims to resolve the charging infrastructure problem by providing not only an abundance of stations but also the most powerful and fastest stations. To use Electrify America’s network, you’ll need their app.
Chargepoint – Charging Network
Chargepoint is one of the most common charging networks for commercial, workplace, and apartment Level 2 charging. With a broad, nationwide network, chances are you will at least once use Chargepoint’s chargers. To use Chargepoint’s network, you’ll need their app.
EVgo – Charging Network
EVgo is another common public charging network. EVgo focuses on DC Fast Charging stations at popular destinations such as grocery stores or nearby freeway exits. Like Electrify America, EVgo is also growing at an incredible rate. To use EVgo’s network, you’ll need their app.
Tesla – Control Vehicle, Search for Tesla Supercharging Stations
Available only to Tesla vehicles, the Tesla app allows Tesla drivers to not only control and monitor vehicle functions such as pre-conditioning or battery charge status, but also search and navigate to Tesla Supercharger stations. Tesla have their own, proprietary DC Fast Charging network. This network is not only nation-wide and abundant, but also extremely fast.
Vehicle App – Control Vehicle
For all the other non-Tesla EVs out there, it is a good idea to download the carmaker’s app. Like the Tesla app, EV drivers can control and monitor vehicle functions. Some vehicle apps even include a nearby charging station map or route planning–though it is best to leave this job to the aforementioned Plugshare and A Better Route Planner, respectively.
4. Pre-Plan Typical Long Trips
Another thing to do after purchasing your first electric car is to pre-plan typical long distance trips. Long trips (over 200 miles) are usually infrequent. However, for first-time EV drivers, these journeys can be a bit overwhelming.
While most DC Fast Charging sessions are only 20-40 minutes, depending on the distance of your journey and availability of charging, you could need to DC Fast Charge multiple times along the way. Setting the expectation right will help smooth your EV experience.
Plus, knowing where and how long your charging stops are will allow you to plan meal breaks during those charging sessions. That way you aren’t just sitting by your EV waiting for the car to charge.
In order to settle those charging fears, it is best to look up how you will navigate, where will you charge, and how long you will charge before you begin the journey. Use A Better Route Planner to pre-plan these trips.
A cool feature of A Better Route Planner is that you can save or bookmark planned routes. When the journey is upon you, simply reference the plan to reassure your range anxiety. Since you already planned the journey ahead of time, you should only need to look at A Better Route Planner for reminders during your trek.
5. Change Utility Rate Schedule to Time of Use
One of the many perks of owning and driving an EV is that they are cheaper than gas powered cars. EV drivers are able to save on “fueling” costs because they almost always charge at home where electricity is much cheaper than gas at a gas station.
One way to save additional money is to sign up for Time of Use (TOU) rates with the electric utility company. Most utility companies offer TOU rate schedules to customers as a way to decrease energy usage during peak hours.
TOU typically have two different rates, one for off-peak and one for peak. Off-peak hours are generally during the morning, early afternoon, and overnight. During off-peak hours, electricity rates are lower.
Peak hours are generally during the afternoon and early evening. This is when the grid is used the most. In an effort to dissuade people from overutilizing the grid, rates during peak hours are more expensive.
Fortunately for EVs, charging occurs overnight. Therefore, EVs can take full advantage of cheap electricity thanks to TOU. Ask you electric utility company to change your rate schedule to TOU once you get your first electric car.
6. Complete EV Rebate Applications
Number six of the seven things to do after purchasing your first electric car is to complete any and all EV rebate applications. Who doesn’t like thousands of dollars of rebates?
Initially, EVs may seem a bit more expensive than a comparable gas car, however, after considering the many different tax credit and rebate programs, EV drivers can save around $10,000 shortly after the purchase. Cha-ching!
It is important to due your due diligence before purchasing so that you know exactly which programs you and your EV qualify for and how much rebate you can expect to receive. It would be a major bummer if you thought you were going to get thousands of dollars in rebates but in reality were only eligible for a few hundred.
There are many different places to search and find electric car rebates. These rebates are offered by many states, utility companies, air districts, and local governments. Of course, these rebates vary from location to location.
Additionally, many rebate programs have various requirements such as location residency, income restrictions, and vehicle purchase cost limitations.
Once you’ve done your research and purchased your first electric car, it is time to complete those rebate applications. Be sure to complete the application thoroughly to avoid any delays in the review process.
After a few weeks, you can expect to receive the rebate check(s) in the mail.
7. Share Your EV Story with Friends and Family
Finally, the last of the seven things to do after purchasing your first electric car is to share your EV story with friends and family!
Congratulations if you have made it this far. While it may not have been the easiest process, you are finally ready to fully enjoy your electric car. But why stop there? Instead, share your experience with others so you can help them make the transition to electric.
It is going to take all of us to make an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Together, we can make the world a better place with cleaner air.
You never know which friends or family members are interested in EVs but are not sure how it will work. Sometimes, all they need is a little confidence from a current EV owner. With your experience, you can help them overcome the hurdles of charging, rebates, or range.
So there are the seven things to do after purchasing your first electric car. Some may take just a few minutes, while others require a bit more time and money. Nevertheless, you are guaranteed to enjoy your first electric car. Who doesnt like a car that is cheaper, cleaner, and more fun to drive?
If at any point any of these items on this checklist seem too complicated, feel free to schedule a free consultation with us as your very own electric car consultant. We’ll help you find and complete EV rebate applications, plan home charging, and give you tips and tricks on EV ownership.
Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.