How to Charge Your Electric Vehicle (EV)

How to Charge Your Electric Vehicle (EV)


Make sure you have a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle, no-plug hybrids do exist…

When it comes to charging your electric vehicle (EV), you first need to confirm you have a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle. Hybrid vehicles come in plug-in and non-plug-in form. The difference between hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles is very simple. Hybrid vehicles are powered by gasoline and an electric motor. Some hybrid vehicles are designed to charge while running requiring no charging whatsoever, whereas plug-in hybrid vehicles require a charge. Electric vehicles are completely powered by an electric battery and therefore require a charge. Read our [comprehensive guide about electric vehicles](/electric-vehicles) to learn about how they work, how to generate more power, how to get the most mileage out of your EV, and the advancements in EVs.

Locate a charging station, EV charger, or a compatible outlet with a connector

Charging your plug-in EV is as easy as it sounds. It’s simply a matter of locating an energy source, and plugging its connector directly to your EV. There are multiple types of connectors, so it helps to know which type of connector your car uses. To make sure you aren’t left stranded at a charging station that you cannot charge at, you will find most EV owners will carry EV charging adapters in their car. We found this [EV charging adapter](/ev-charging-adapter-affiliate) to be reasonably priced and made of high-quality materials that will last for a long time.

If using a public charging station, be prepared and considerate

Public charging stations are by far the fastest way to charge your EV. It generally takes 30-60 minutes for a full charge at a public charging station. Some of the most common things people do while waiting at a public charging station is organize their calendar, check their email, browse social media, watch a quick show on their phone or ipad, listen to music, browse YouTube, bring their dog for a quick walk, go on a short walk/jog/run, and in some cases socialize with other EV owners. It’s always a good idea to pre-plan your trip to charge your car.

Lastly, the last thing you want to do is leave your car plugged-in longer than it needs to be, or not be available to move your car when it done charging. We hear a lot of stories about the bad experiences at public charging stations where owners will leave their car parked at a charging station for a prolonged period of time preventing other people from using the charging station. In short, you want to be efficient, respectful, and considerate of other EV owners when using a public charging station. The worst thing you can do at a public charging station is keep your car plugged-in, and others waiting when your car is charged up. Electric cars are still a new concept to people in the US, so it’s understandable for people to overlook the little things. You’ll understand when this happens to you one day. You can help by spreading awareness about the proper public charging station etiquette, which should be a mandatory read for new EV owners.


We LOVE hearing them and sharing it with the EV community, and the more we know, the better we can be – so if you’ve got a story worth sharing we want to hear about it. To read about some of the bad experiences at a public charging stations, read [Mashable](’s article [here](

Charge at home with the right outlet or EV charger.

Charging at home is easy, but there’s a key points to be mindful of. You can literally plug in the connector of your EV charger, or you can plug directly to a compatible outlet.

There have been reports of houses catching on fire because of a improper installation. The most important thing about charging at home is making sure you the appropriate materials and wire sizes are used. Simply using a wire gauge that is too small, will cause your charging station to overheat, and you guessed it, potentially start a fire. If after reading this, you are questioning whether or not you’re at risk, contact us directly with more information about your particular installation and we’d be happy to help.

Standard Power Outlet: While it is possible to plug your EV directly into a standard outlet, it is extremely slow (2-3 miles of range per hour). Which means if you were to leave your car plugged into a standard outlet during a typical 8-hour work day, you’ll be lucky to get as 16-24 miles of range.

NEMA 14-50 or 220V Outlet: Charging with a NEMA 14-50 (a similar outlet to the outlets used for a dryer unit) is the most affordable way to charge your car at home. With a NEMA 14-50 outlet, you directly plug your EV into the outlet. This is the most cost effective way to charge your car at home, which also makes it one of the most common EV charging installations.


Level 2 EV Charger: Using an EV charger is the fastest way to charge your EV at home, so it is ideal for EV owners that require a faster charge, a good-looking visual aesthetic, adjustability, and additional features. The most important thing to look for in an EV charger is the quality of the internal parts used. There have been a few reports of cheaper EV chargers that failed after 1-year of use due to cheap internal parts. Read our [Comprehensive Guide to EV Chargers of 2020](/ev-chargers) to learn more about the different types, benefits, additional features, and more


How long to charge your EV


The length of charge needed for an EV is dependent on your usage and the method used for charging. Generally, a complete charge at a public charging station can take 30-45 minutes.


To prolong the life of an EV’s battery, most vehicles by default are setup to be charged up to 80% battery. Plug-in electric vehicles are all-electric, and don’t have a gas tank – meaning your car no longer runs on gasoline, but instead runs on electricity. To “fill up your tank”, you can use an [EV charger for charging at home](/charge-at-home) or you can use a [public charging station](/public-charging-stations). For daily use and to extend the life of the EV battery, most EV drivers will charge their EV up to 80 percent. If you would prefer a fully charged battery, you always have the option to get a full charge.




EV Charging Time Diagram




3 Different Levels of EV Charging


EV chargers typically fall under one of three main categories: Level 1 charging stations, Level 2 charging stations, and DC Fast Chargers (also referred to as Level 3 charging stations). 

Level 1 EV Charging Stations

Level 1 chargers use a 120 V AC plug and can be plugged into a standard outlet. Unlike other chargers, Level 1 chargers do not require the installation of any additional equipment. These chargers typically deliver two to five miles of range per hour of charging and are most often used at home.

Level 1 chargers are the least expensive EVSE option, but they also take the most time to charge your car’s battery. Homeowners typically use these types of chargers to charge their cars overnight.

Level 2 EV Charging Stations

Level 2 chargers are used for both residential and commercial charging stations. They use a 240 V (for residential) or 208 V (for commercial) plug, and unlike Level 1 chargers, they can’t be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Instead, they are usually installed by a professional electrician. They can also be installed as part of a solar panel system.

Level 2 electric car chargers deliver 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging. They can fully charge an electric car battery in as little as two hours, making them an ideal option for both homeowners who need fast charging and businesses who want to offer charging stations to customers.

Many electric car manufacturers, like Nissan, have their own Level 2 charger products. Others include ClipperCreek, Chargepoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens.

Level 3 Charging Stations (DC Fast Chargers or CHAdeMO)

DC Fast Chargers, also known as Level 3 or CHAdeMO charging stations, can offer 60 to 100 miles of range for your electric car in just 20 minutes of charging. However, they are typically only used in commercial and industrial applications – they require highly specialized, high-powered equipment to install and maintain.

Not all electric cars can be charged with the use of DC Fast Chargers. Most plug-in hybrid EVs don’t have this charging capability, and some all-electric vehicles cannot be charged with a DC Fast Charger. The Mitsubishi “i” and Nissan Leaf are two examples of electric cars that are DC Fast Charger enabled.

What about Tesla Superchargers?

One of the big selling points for Tesla electric vehicles is the availability of “Superchargers” scattered across the United States. These super-fast charging stations can charge a Tesla battery in about 30 minutes and are installed across the continental U.S. However, Tesla Superchargers are designed exclusively for Tesla vehicles, which means that if you own a non-Tesla EV, your car isn’t compatible with Supercharger stations. Tesla owners receive 400 kWh of free Supercharger credits each year, which is enough to drive about 1,000 miles.

Charging Guides


Not all electric car batteries are created equal. The type of electric vehicle you purchase will impact how long it takes, and how much it costs, to charge your car’s battery.


Charging the Nissan Leaf


The Nissan Leaf is an electric car designed for shorter trips, which means that it has a relatively low range (and a smaller battery to match). It can take as little as 30 minutes to charge a Leaf at a DC Fast Charging station, while charge times for at home Level 2 charging stations range from 4 to 8 hours. The cost to “fill up” a Nissan Leaf battery ranges from just over $3.00 (in Washington state) to almost $10.00 (in Hawaii).


Learn more in our Nissan Leaf Charging Guide


Charging the Chevy Bolt


The Chevrolet Bolt is the first widely available electric car that can travel over 200 miles on a single charge. It takes approximately an hour and 20 minutes to charge a Bolt at a DC Fast Charging station, while charge time for at home Level 2 charging stations is around 9 and a half hours. The cost to “fill up” a Bolt battery ranges from just over $6.00 (in Washington state) to approximately $20.00 (in Hawaii).


Learn more about charging the different Chevy EV cars in our Chevrolet Bolt Charging Guide


Charging a Tesla Model 3, S, X, or Roadster


Tesla electric cars, including the Model S and the Model X, are luxury vehicles designed for long distance travel. If you have a Tesla Supercharger near you, it can take an hour or less to charge your car; at home charging ranges from 6 to 10 hours for a full charge. The cost to “fill up” a Tesla battery ranges from just under $7.00 (in Washington state) to almost $22.00 (in Hawaii).


Learn more about charging the different Tesla models using our Tesla Charging Guide.


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