What Is EV Charging?


Electric Vehicle (EV) charging provides electric power to an electric car battery to replenish its charge.

Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles that require fueling at gas stations, you can charge an electric car by plugging them into an electric power source. 

That’s the short answer. But there is a lot more to EV charging which we will get into further so that you’ll know exactly what it entails. Here are the key elements to remember as you read.

At a Glance:
1️⃣ EV charging types: Level 1 (slow, affordable), Level 2 (faster, for home/work/public), Level 3 (fastest, for commercial/public use).

2️⃣ Home charging: Choose Level 1 or 2, enjoy convenience and savings, Level 2 has faster charging and federal rebates available.

3️⃣ EV charging future: Significant investments, shorter charging times, improved access and user experience.

In addition to understanding what EV charging is, learning how it works can provide a comprehensive picture. Now let’s get into it!

Types Of Electric Vehicle Chargers

Considering the different levels of EV charging to get a more complete understanding of what EV charging entails.

Level 1 and Level 2 charging devices are technically not battery chargers. Instead, they are EV charging stations that prepare an AC charge and are connected to the EV’s internal charger.

The battery charger is contained within the electric vehicle. Here’s how it works:

  • The EVs rectifier converts the AC current to DC.
  • The EV systems control the rate of charge (acceptance rate.)
  • The systems control the amount of charge.

Level 1 Charging Stations

This is the slowest and cheapest way to charge your car. The specifications of level 1 charging stations are listed below.

Electrical Input Required120 VAC (16 amps)
Typical Power Produced1kW
Average Charge Time for BEVs40 to 50 hours (full battery charge)
Typical Charger Cost+-$100
Cost to InstallFree (plug-in cables)
Range Added per Charge Hour2-5 miles
Typical UsesHome

Level 1 chargers are more suited to smaller PHEV batteries and are relatively ineffective when used to charge a BEV.

Level 2 Charging Stations

Level 2 devices have a charging speed up to ten times faster than level 1. In addition, level 2 charging equipment can generally charge an electric vehicle overnight to an acceptable level.

The specifications of level 2 EV charging stations are listed below.

Electrical Input Required208 to 220 VAC (80 amps)
Typical Power Produced7 – 19kW
Average Charge Time for BEVs3 to 8 hours
Typical Charger Cost$300 to $3,500
Cost to InstallFree if plug-in unit; otherwise, a few thousand dollars if upgrades are required.
Range Added per Charge Hour10 – 20 miles
Typical UsesHome, Workplace, and Public

The electrical connections for level-2 charging stations vary, and they are either plug-in or single or twin-phase fixed line installations (hardwired).

Level 2 charging stations cost more than level 1 devices. Many states and utilities offer substantial rebates (sometimes 100% of the cost) to install them.

Single and twin-phase electrical connections require professional installation.

DC Fast Charging Stations (DCFC)/ Level 3 Charging Stations

The third level is DCFC, the fastest method. 

Unlike levels 1 and 2, these devices are battery chargers. They supply a higher “charging power” and convert the current to DC before it enters the car.

The DCFC charge bypasses the EV systems and routes it directly to the battery.

The specifications of DC fast chargers are listed below.

Electrical Input Required200 – 500VDC (350 amps)
Typical Power Produced50 to 350kW
Average Charge Time for BEVs20 minutes – 1 hour
Typical Charger Cost$10,000 – $40,000
Cost to Install$4,000 to $51,000
Range Added per Charge Hour10 – 20 miles
Typical UsesCommercial charging stations and public points

There are two disadvantages to DCFC systems:

  • The fastest charge rate happens between 20% – 80%. Beyond 80%, the charge rate reduces. As a result, many DCFC stations prevent charging beyond 80%.
  • Many believe that regular use of DCFC systems causes the battery to degrade faster. Research conducted by the Ohio National Laboratory concluded that batteries degrade at the same rate irrespective of the charging system used.

Understanding DC fast charging will enhance your knowledge about EV charging.

Home Charging Stations

Apart from the environmental benefits of EVs, the fact that you don’t need to go to a gas station has many benefits, including convenience, safety, and cost.

The downside to a home charging station is that it is slower than a public DCFC station.

Equipment Needed For Home Charging

You will need a level 1 or 2 charging station at home.  

Level 1 charging stations are slow (many will require up to 5 days to charge to 100%.) However, level 1 chargers are cheap and do not require installation.

Level 2 charging has many benefits:

  • Taxpayers qualify for a federal rebate of 30% of the installation cost (up to $1,000).
  • Many states will also subsidize all or part of the cost.
  • SMART chargers can be scheduled to fit Time Of Use (TOU) reduced charging rates.
  • Even if it is not a SMART charger, EV systems can schedule specific times to charge.

At some stage, you will be in the market for equipment to charge your car at home. Our experts have covered the leading residential charging stations available so you can make a confident buying choice.

Tips For Charging Your EV at Home

Home charging can be painless if certain rules are followed:

  • Study the incentives that are available and take advantage of them.
  • Always follow the EV and charging system manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • With plug-in charging stations, ensure the house outlets have the correct rated capacity.
  • Ideally, opt for a fixed line installation which is generally more stable and less prone to tripping.
  • Purchase a charger that incorporates “Automatic Circuit Reclosure” technology. If there is a break in the utility power supply, the charger will continually check for its reactivation. At this point, the system continues charging.
  • If you have a tied solar system, check how the charging resources can be shared between the utility and solar supply to save costs.
  • If the system is installed outside, ensure that it can be locked to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Keep all electrical components away from children and animals.

Public Charging Stations

Here are three useful facts about Public EV Charging:

Types Of Public Charging Stations

There are three main types of public charging systems.

  • Level 2 (J1772 connector)
  • DCFC (J1772/CCS Combined Charging System Coupler, CHAdeMO connectors)
  • Tesla Super Chargers (Tesla Connector)

All EVs sold in America can connect to the J1772 and J1772/CCS Combined Charging System Connector.

Only Teslas can be connected to Tesla Super Chargers. But Tesla has recently agreed to open up 7,500 of its charging stations to other EV makes by the end of 2024.

Locations Of Public Charging Stations 

The US Department of Energy link helps you locate a charging station near you.

Charging Network Providers

The following is a list of American charging network providers.

  • Tesla
  • Hertz/ BP
  • Pilot Company,/General Motors/EVgo
  • TravelCenters of America/ Electrify
  • Electrify America
  • Mercedes-Benz/ChargePoint/MN8 Energy
  • General Motors/ FLO
  • Francis Energy
  • Forum Mobility
  • Ford

Source: The White House

Workplace EV Charging

There are several reasons why installing EV chargers at the workplace is a great idea:

  • It increases productivity because the employees can stay at work when charging.
  • It increases the employee’s impression that the company cares.
  • It is an untaxed (at the moment) perk.
  • It sends a positive message that the company is environmentally caring.
  • If the chargers are available to clients, it sends a good marketing message.

Several state/utility and federal rebate programs substantially reduce the cost of installing EV charging equipment.

EV Charging Costs

The factors that affect how much it will cost to charge an EV include the following:

  • The level charger (2 or DCFC)
  • The size of the battery.
  • The EV’s acceptance rate – the lower it is, the longer it will take to charge.
  • The discharge percentage.
  • The temperature (cold temperatures reduce charge rates).
  • Home charging costs can be reduced by scheduling a time to charge to fit TOU incentives.

Comparison Of Charging Costs To Gasoline Costs

An EV is cheaper to run than an equivalent ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle.

Compared to ICE cars Mile Per Gallon (MPG) generally costs less. The difference is difficult due to the following:

  • The cost of oil changes.
  • ICE MPG (Mile Per Gallon) changes by type of car (Toyota Corolla Hatchback – 35 MPG, Porsche Macan – 21 MPG).
  • Similarly, EVs have different consumption rates.

Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette

Common courtesies and etiquette should be practiced.

  • Charging spaces are not parking bays.
  • Don’t leave your EV when charging is completed.
  • If you need to charge to 100%, switch to a level 2 charger at 80%.
  • Leave the connector in the holster when finished.
  • Keep noise levels down.
  • Don’t litter – we’re saving the environment here!

Penalty Fees For Charging Etiquette Violations

Many charging stations impose penalties under the following circumstances:

  • The EV is left connected after the charge has been completed.
  • The battery is charged beyond 80%.

Proper Charging Practices

For the fastest charging, connect the battery before it reduces below 20% and stop it before it exceeds 80%.

Allow the EV battery to cool down before charging.

Lithium-ion batteries do not do well when stored at 100% charge. Therefore, if the EV is not used, allow the charge to reduce to below 80% before parking and storing long term.

EV Charging Infrastructure

In 2023 there will be more than 130,000 public chargers. This is growing, and by 2024, 100,000 chargers will be added to the network. The federal government’s target is to have 500,000 chargers by 2030.

The government is investing $7.5 billion in EV charging in the next seven years.

$2.5 billion is available in discretionary grants to deploy public charging.

The Future Of EV Charging

Massive investments are being made in EV charging infrastructure and will exceed $217.06 billion by 2030.

Technology is continually advancing, and it is projected that charging times to 90% will reduce to 10 minutes within the next five years.

Key Takeaways

EV charging technology is constantly advancing. The dream is that EV charging will eventually be no slower than filling an ICE car with gas.

1️⃣ There are three levels of chargers.

2️⃣ Charging your EV at home is convenient, and a Level 2 charger is efficient.

3️⃣ Try to charge the EV battery before it reduces below 20%.

4️⃣ It is inefficient to use a DCFC to charge beyond 80%.

Ultimately learning how to charge an electric car is the practical way of understanding what EV charging is.