If you’re in the market for a new EV or recently bought an electric car, you need to know your charging options. You can charge your EV at home or on the go in public charging stations. Charging at home is pretty straightforward. However, charging while you travel can be more confusing.
One major challenge with driving around in an EV is that charging stations aren’t always accessible. Making matters worse, vehicles sold in the US have no standardized charging port. This means EVs from different brands can use different connectors. Keep reading to learn how to charge your EV either at home or on the go, and get to know some of the common charging ports.
Almost all EVs in the US come with a level 1 charger that you can use at home. However, you can upgrade to a faster level 2 charging station. At-home charging is not suitable for those who live in apartment buildings and have no access to an outlet.
Charging at home is convenient. You can charge your car overnight and drive away with a fully charged EV. Simply plug the car in at night and unplug it before leaving in the morning. Keep in mind that a level 1 charger may not provide enough power to recharge your vehicle overnight fully.
A level 1 charger typically plugs into any standard home outlet in the US. This type comes with your car. It is the slowest means of charging an electric vehicle, providing only 3-5 miles per hour. While slow to charge, the 120V charger can use any outlet to charge. Plus, you don’t need to worry about any special wiring. Additionally, you can carry the level 1 charger around.
Another charging option is the level 2 charger which you can add to your home. This type runs on 240V and requires additional wiring, which should be installed by a licensed electrician. Level 2 charger is typically faster and can charge as fast as 20-25 miles per hour. With this charger, you can fully recharge most cars overnight.
On the Go
Charging on the go is a little more complicated and much less straightforward. At home, you can use the included charger or purchase a level 2 charger. The only concern is you have to find a charging station that works with the type of charger. A common workaround is to get an adapter that allows you to use a different type of charger.
But even with an adapter, you may still have limited charging places. Rural areas have few charging stations, meaning you may need to plan ahead. Another thing to look out for is DC fast charging, which some people refer to as level 3. This charges your car the fastest but is expensive. Plus, charging rates vary widely by location, demand, and local energy price.
The largest charging network in the US is ChargePoint. The company makes the chargers and operates the network, but property owners own the charging stations. ChargePoint has a few chargers, including the CPE 100 and 200, which can provide fast-charging DC power. But many ChargePoint stations are the CT4000 or older variations. The company has over 200,000 charging stations.
A smaller but growing network of EV chargers is EVgo. The company started in 2010 and slowly added charging stations over the past decade. EVgo chargers are universal, so they can handle all makes and models, including Teslas. What also sets EVgo apart is that all their charging stations are DC fast chargers.
Electrify America is another EV charging provider with over 800 chargers across the country. The vast majority are DC fast chargers and some level 2 chargers. The company is relatively new, starting in 2017 as a subsidiary of Volkswagen. Its chargers can connect to most vehicles, except for Teslas.
Tesla has become synonymous with electric vehicles, but as the company grew, it also built out its own charging network. These Superchargers are available at retailers, gas stations, and hotels across the country. While these chargers are fast, the downside is that they only allow Teslas to charge at them. The company is testing a program where non-Tesla owners can charge at one of the 4,000 Superchargers.
June 8, 2023 — Today, General Motors (GM) announced that at the start of 2024 their electric vehicles (EVs) will be able to charge at 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers. Ford made a similar announcement on May 25, 2023. Both companies will feature feature Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector on their EVs starting in 2025.
This move will undoubtedly make charging more convenient for Ford and GM EV owners. It is also likely to be the first step toward making Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector the country’s charging standard.
One of the complicating factors for EV owners in the US is that there is no standard charging port. Fortunately, that seems to be changing as most companies are adopting the CCS connector. However, it still presents a problem for existing EV owners as there are four different ports. In addition, many EVs have more than one charging port, which allows for DC fast charging and slower level 1 and 2 charging.
The J1772 may not have the best or most memorable name, but it is the most used connection type. Even Teslas have an adapter to charge with the J1772. This five-pin charger was designed in 2009 for the North American EV market. With it, you can charge with either 120V or 240V AC from a wall outlet or a level 2 charger. However, the J1772 alone doesn’t support DC fast charging.
The CHAdeMO is a ten-pin DC fast-charging connector designed in part by the Tokyo Electric Power Company and several major Asian auto manufacturers. The connector was designed in the late 2000s and used by manufacturers like Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Honda. The CHAdeMO remains a popular charger in Japan, but most manufacturers switched to the more standardized CCS for North American models.
CCS (Combined Charging System)
The CCS charger picks up the shortcomings of the J1772 connector. In fact, the CCS uses the round five-pin connector from the J1772 but adds two DC pins below it for fast charging. This is the ideal charger for most people because it is the most used in the US, as many manufacturers adopted it. Best of all, you can use the original J1772 connector by itself if a charging station doesn’t offer DC fast charging.
Finally, there is the Tesla connector, which supports DC fast charging, plus 120V and 240V charging. The Tesla charging port is not used by other manufacturers, and until recently, you couldn’t charge any other EV at a Tesla Supercharger. The good news is that there is an adapter to plug a Tesla into a J1772 charger. Additionally, Tesla’s proprietary charger delivers some of the best charging speeds in the industry.
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