Knowing where to charge an electric car is a major barrier for first-time shoppers. In addition to having enough range, knowing where to charge is a major concern.
Traditionally, refueling a gasoline-powered vehicle, or Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV), takes a matter of minutes. In addition, gas stations can be found at just about every other intersection or off-ramp. This has made ICEVs incredibly convenient for long journeys.
With over 350 miles of range, high availability of gas stations, and quick refueling time, ICEVs set the bar high for a vehicle. Nevertheless, electric vehicles (EV), may be just as convenient, just in a slightly different way.
There are four main places where you can charge an electric car:
- Public charging station
Here are the details for each location to charge an electric car.
Conveniently, charging an electric car can be fairly easy. In the vast majority of charging sessions, EV drivers simply plug the car in at home. Just like a phone, the car will be completely charged overnight.
The best way to look at it is everyday the car is charged to 100%. This cannot ever happen with a ICEV as every refueling session must occur at a gas station away from the home and as a separate stop.
While charging at home is one of many places where you can charge an electric car, it is by far the most popular. According to the Department of Energy, home charging accounts for more than 80% of charging sessions.
Charging at home can be done via Level 1 (120 Volt) or Level 2 (240 Volt). The preferred charging method is Level 2 as it is much, much quicker. Charging speeds on Level 2 range from 3.3-11 kilowatts (kW). In other words, home charging can provide around 12-40 miles of range added per hour of charging.
Of all the different places to charge an electric car, home charging is typically the cheapest.
Similar to home charging, charging at work is also pretty simple. Since most people work eight hours a day at an office, charging at work is very straightforward. While you work, the EV is charging throughout the day. When you complete the workday, the vehicle is charged to 100%.
Workplace charging is typically Level 2, therefore, it will provide around 12-40 miles of range per hour. Since the typical commute is around 40 miles, you will only need to charge for an hour or two every day at work.
Of course, if you do not have home charging, workplace charging is your next best bet as it is nearly just as convenient and accessible.
Lastly, workplace charging fees can vary from location to location. In some instances, the host/employer may not require any payment. In others, there may be a small fee. Usually, the employer will not charge an arm and a leg for workplace charging as it is used as a company perk like 401 (k) plans or coffee in the breakroom.
Public Charging Station
The third place to charge an electric car is at a public charging station. Public charging stations draw the most attention. To many non-EV drivers, public charging stations must be at or above the station count as gas stations in order for any driver to consider switching to an electric car.
This is a misnomer as public charging stations really are only needed during certain types of vehicle trips or for those who do not have either home or workplace charging access.
In any case, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently over 30,000 public charging stations in the U.S. with over 100,000 ports. Below is a map via Plugshare of all public charging stations. You can search for stations near you.
Unlike home, workplace, and even destination charging, public charging stations are significantly faster. Some public stations have Level 2 chargers, however, some have Level 3, or DC Fast Charging (DCFC). DCFC can provide around 90-250 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
As stated previously, DCFC is best used for charging while on a long road trip. After traveling 200-300 miles (the range of today’s EVs), a short 30 minute stop for food, restroom breaks, or general stretching is often required. During this short break, the car can charge at a DCFC station.
In terms of cost, public charging stations are generally the most expensive. Of course, prices vary location to location, though in most cases the cost is about the same as gas. It is noteworthy to mention that some public chargers are free. This is done by retail businesses like Target or Home Depot in order to attract customers.
You can read more about DC Fast Charging in this detailed article.
Lastly, hotel charging (also known as destination charging) is the fourth and final location to charge an electric car. More and more hotels are adding chargers to their properties. The reason for this is it can attract EV drivers traveling on long trips.
Rather than stopping at a public DCFC station, drivers can simply overnight charge at the hotel. This is far more convenient as it does not require a separate charging stop. EV drivers are much more likely to stay at a hotel if it has charging on-site.
Hotel or destination charging is typically Level 2. This is fine as charging at a hotel is done overnight. After a couple hours of charging, the electric car will be fully recharged.
Hotel charging, as you may have guessed, also varies in cost. Like workplace charging, some stations may be free of charge as they are amenities like a gym, business center, or breakfast. Other hotels, on the other hand, may require payment to cover the cost of electricity. In most situations, hotel charging will be much more economical than charging at a DCFC station since it is lower powered.
You can read more about hotel/destination charging in this detailed article.
As you now know, the four ways to charge an electric car vary depending on use case, location, charging speed, and cost. The vast majority of the time EV drivers will charge overnight at home or throughout the day at the workplace. However, in some circumstances, public or hotel charging will be utilized.
In any case, where you charge an electric car is very different from refueling an ICEV. While a public charging station most resembles a gas station, it is a far less popular way of charging.
If you are interested in EVs but not quite sure which one is right for you, where you’ll charge, or how much tax credits and rebates you can claim, feel free to work with us as your personal EV consultant. Our products and services are uniquely customized to each individual’s budget, location, and vehicle needs.
Check out our most popular product, the EV Guide, for more information. For a small fee, you can see exactly how you can make the switch to electric. Get started today!
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.