What are the EV Charger Levels?
Electric vehicles are a great way to avoid the gas station and cut your emissions output, but they don’t run on hopes and dreams. All EVs have what is known as an estimated range, or the distance they can travel before needing to be plugged in and recharged. How you charge your EV comes down to the type of vehicle, where you live, and the charging infrastructure that’s available to you. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the various levels of EV charging that are available today. MaskotGetty Images Level 1 ChargingLevel 1 charging is the slowest way to charge an electric car, and is generally reserved for use with a home charger, but only using a household wall outlet (120 Volts). Depending on the connector, home charging using Level 1 can add as few as 3-5 miles of range per charging hour. Because of their slow speed, public charging networks tend to avoid using the technology, as it would take a long time for all EV models to recover any meaningful amount of range.Level 2 ChargingLevel 2 charging speeds are common, and are the most-used type of charging service today. Level 2 chargers are also a commonly installed charging system in owners’ homes, because they can use 240V household plugs or outlets to deliver faster charging speeds. In most cases, Level 2 chargers can deliver up to 80 miles of range per hour. Level 3 ChargingLevel 3 charging is currently the fastest speed our charging infrastructure can support. Level 3 charging uses DC power (direct current) , and is capable of adding up to 20 miles of range per minute. Most Level 3 chargers are referred to as DC Fast Chargers. Bloomberg CreativeGetty Images EV Charging Connector TypesThere are several types of EV charging connectors that plug into your car from the charger. The connector types have to do with the charger and the vehicle manufacturer. In North America:DC chargers can use CHAdeMO plugs, which allow high charging speeds, two-way transfer of electricity, and speeds of up to 100 kW.DC chargers can also use CCS plugs, which support quick charging at speeds of up to 350 kW.AC Chargers can use Type 1 or Type 2 plugs. Type supports speeds of up to 7.4 kW and Type 2 supports speeds of up to 43 kW, depending on the chargerOverview of Electric Car Charging CostsBeyond the purchase price of a new EV, there are operating costs. Just like driving a gas car means stopping to fill up with fuel, driving an EV means charging the batteries. If you own an EV and own your home, you might consider installing a home charging station. This can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, but can also cost quite a bit more than that for the most elaborate and robust systems with accompanying EV charging equipment. The cost to charge an electric car at home is likely less than you think. Pete StarmanGetty Images How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?COST OF ELECTRICITYThe Alternative Fuels Data Center uses an example of charging an electric vehicle with a 66 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery from empty. It assumes that electricity costs $0.13 per kilowatt-hour, so the cost to charge a vehicle with a 200-mile range would be around $9. Electricity rates vary from place to place and can be quite a bit different than this example, depending on the location, but it’s a good indicator that charging electric vehicles is cheaper than filling a gas tank. ELECTRICITY COST VS. GASAs of the time of this article, the national average for regular gas is $3.078 per gallon. If we use a 2018 Honda Civic as our example, its 12.4-gallon tank would cost about $38.17 to fill. Of course, the Honda can achieve up to 42 miles per gallon, so in ideal conditions its full tank of fuel would help it travel a considerable distance further than an EV. Even doubling the cost of electricity would still mean the price of charging an EV is less than a fuel fill up. Like the recharge costs that come along with owning an EV, gasoline costs fluctuate from time to time. ALTERNATIVE SOURCESThe dollar amount of gas costs will likely remain much higher than electricity over time. Everyone from the U.S. Department of Energy to your local utility company is working on alternative energy sources that will lower recharging costs and hopefully slow the pace of climate change over time.Federal Tax Credits May ApplyThe United States government offers a one-time tax credit of up to $7500 to buyers of eligible electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The credit applies to vehicles that have sold fewer than 200,000 units. It’s important to remember that this is not a rebate and note that this does not mean you will receive a check in the mail at the end of the year. The $7500 credit applies to your annual tax burden, so if you owe less than $7500, you will not receive the entire credit amount. State Tax Credits Can Help Even MoreIn addition to federal tax incentives, many states offer a similar credit. Maine, for example, offers an instant rebate of up to $2000 for new EVs. The money can truly make a difference in the purchase price of an EV, as the Efficiency Maine website points out. The amount and eligibility requirements can vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with your state to be sure of what you’re able to claim. Johner ImagesGetty Images So, How Much Does It Cost to Own an Electric Vehicle Over Time?MAINTENANCEBeyond the question of charging, EV maintenance and ownership costs are big issues for those unfamiliar with the space. Unlike a gas-powered car, EVs don’t have hundreds of complex mechanical moving parts, which means common repair items like water pumps and air filters don’t need to be replaced. EVs also tend to chew through brakes slower than their gas powered counterparts because of regenerative braking, which uses the electric motor as a generator and slows the car. On the flip side, some electric vehicle owners report burning through tires at a slightly increased rate, due to the instant torque and exhilarating acceleration that an electric car offers.DEPRECIATIONDepreciation and longevity should also be on the minds of electric car owners. Electric vehicles tend to cost more than their gas-powered counterparts, but over time they have shown a tendency to lose value (depreciate) more quickly. Of course, keeping any vehicle for an extended period of time is the best way around the cost of depreciation. How long do EVs last?The battery in an electric car starts to break down after a while, just like any other electrical component. Over time, the batteries begin to lose capacity and don’t hold as much of a charge, which can greatly reduce range. Cars are only useful if they can travel their advertised range, so an electric car with a bad battery is nearly worthless. Automakers issue warranties for the batteries and electrical components in EVs, just like they would for any other vehicle. In many cases, these warranties extend to 10 years or 100,000 miles or more, which means that the battery can be repaired or replaced if it breaks within that time period.What are the pros of owning an electric vehicle?REDUCED MAINTENANCEIt’s true that gas vehicles are usually less expensive and easier to refuel, but there are several benefits to owning an EV that have nothing to do with costs. One of the biggest pros is the reduced need for regular maintenance. There are no oil changes, no mechanical components to break underhood, no exhaust system, and the life of other components such as brakes can be extended. Many people report that driving an electric car is more relaxing than a gas vehicle, because of the lack of engine noise. MORE PERFORMANCEMany electric models offer significant performance benefits over gas vehicles as well. This applies not only to intended high-performance cars, but even to everyday commuter vehicles. The immediate torque and acceleration can make electric cars exhilarating to drive, and make them quicker than most people expect, depending on driving habits. TAX INCENTIVESThere may also be tax credits available, depending on the electric car you opt for. The United States government offers a one-time tax credit of up to $7500 to buyers of eligible electric cars—and various states offer tax credits on select models, too—which lowers the effective cost of the purchase.All of that, and we haven’t even mentioned the complete reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in everyday driving and the fact that gas prices fluctuate wildly. Fuel costs are a big motivator for many buyers. Westend61Getty Images What are the cons of electric cars?ACCESS TO CHARGINGThere are a few downsides that might not be immediately apparent when you are standing on the dealer’s lot trying to make a car purchase. Depending on your location, you may or may not have ready access to charging stations. This is especially true for people who live in apartment buildings or those who rent, as it can be impossible to install a home charging system.CHARGINGYou may also find that electric cars take too long to charge, even if there is a charging station nearby. Unlike filling up a gas tank, which can take a few minutes, most electric vehicles take much longer to recover a sizable portion of their range. This can make road trips impractical for many, as the requirement to stop and charge for half an hour or more can turn a simple trip into a long, painful one. COST TO BUYLast, there is the issue of purchase cost. Electric cars, no matter the type, size, or technology, are usually more expensive than comparable gas vehicles.
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