EV Charging—At Home Or On The Go
We discussed some of the many reasons to go electric in our last article, Benefits of Choosing An Electric Vehicle. Now let’s talk about keeping that vehicle charged and ready to go, whether you’re running around town or road-tripping a vacation.
Anyone looking into buying an electric vehicle needs to have a charging plan before they make the purchase. The U.S. DOT estimates that the average American drives about 40 miles a day. An electric car can easily handle this range multiple times on a single charge, with most getting about 250 miles per charge. Thus, today’s EVs can take on a week’s worth of daily commute without needing a “fill-up.” Since more than 80% of electric vehicle charging occurs at home, this makes getting to and from work without “range anxiety” a reality for most owners.
However, there are a couple of drawbacks to at-home electric vehicle charging. First, most electric cars and EV trucks can be powered up using your existing 120-V household outlets, but the process can be really long, sometimes taking up to 24 hours to complete a full charge—good-bye range anxiety, hello charging-time trauma! One bright note is that these home-charging times could drop to as quickly as 7-10 hours with the installation of a 240V Level 2 power source (the same plug-in you would use for a refrigerator or electric dryer). Plus, the technology is steadily advancing, and charging times are eroding as it evolves.
How about that road trip?
So, what about long-distance drives and charging along the way? We know that electric vehicles are terrific for work commutes and grocery runs, but what about long-range travel? With the advanced capabilities of the most current EV batteries and a network of electric vehicle charging stations, a nice long trip is no longer just wishful thinking. But you definitely need to do some homework before you hit the road.
There are some things you should consider to get the most out of your trip. The keys to a worry-free trip are planning ahead, planning some more, and then more planning. First, you will need to do some vigorous research on your proposed route and chart out the availability of charging stations. It gets a tad tricky while keeping in mind that the electric vehicle range quoted by the manufacturer can vary with multiple factors, including how you minimize your battery use and the outside temperature as colder weather causes the battery to work harder and drain quicker. Next, use Google maps and other available apps like PlugShare, ChargeHub, or Open Charge Map to plot out charging stations on your route.
A few other tips:
Plan your charging stops around meal times and activities as you may be waiting for a charging unit to free up before you can even begin your charge. You also want to plan to stop earlier rather than later—do not wait until you have 20 miles left in your range before you start searching for the next charge station. You can find more than 5,700 public-access EV charging stations in the United States to ensure that you don’t get stranded.
Choose hotels and RV parks with complimentary charging stations so that you can fill up during your overnight stay. Another crucial point to remember is that there are different types of charging stations available, and the fastest could cost you up to $30 to get you fully juiced up—still cheaper than a tank of gas! So always be flexible, and be sure you have a backup plan for getting your vehicle charged as needed.
While EVs are still better suited for urban adventures than off-the-grid rambles, advanced planning can take you cross-country and beyond! Just don’t wing it. The spontaneity of jumping in the car with a map, some snacks, and a few bucks isn’t yet doable with an EV, but those days are just a matter of time.