Electric vehicles come with the advantage of cleaner air and the convenience of not worrying about gas. However, public charging facilities are not easy to access for everyone. That’s why most EV owners charge their cars at home.
EVs come with (EVSE) Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment charging cable. This unit plugs into a regular outlet 110v or 240v outlet. Charging at home is super convenient because you will have a full or nearly full battery in the morning.
Charging an Electric Car on a 110V Outlet
Most homes come with a standard 110v socket. It’s a level one charger same as the one used to plug in your fridge, microwave, or TV. You can plug your EV into a 110v outlet, but it has the downside of being slow. This outlet provides 3-6 miles of range per hour of charging.
If you own a Tesla Model S, using a 110v outlet gives you only 3 miles of range per hour. Say you charge it for eight hours. You only get 24 miles of range.
On the other hand, a Chevy Volt requires 10-16 hours of charging to get a full battery on a regular 110v outlet.
If your commute is relatively short, you can use a domestic charging outlet on your ride. But if you require more range, it’s best to consider a 240v charging station for your EV at home.
While it’s easy to plug into a 110v outlet and leave it overnight, you need to consider if the power point is old or damaged. Or whether you have other units like a kettle or cooktop using the same circuitry. An EV adds amperage on circuitry, and it can trigger a circuit breaker leaving your car without power.
What’s more, charging on a damaged outlet can result in a fire. That’s why you need to have a dedicated circuit to charge your electric car safely.
Charging an Electric Vehicle on a 240V Outlet
240v outlets are found in the garage, typically used for dryers, water heaters, and central air conditioners. Charging an EV on a 240v outlet cuts the charging time and increases range.
A 240v outlet adds 10- 60 miles of range per every hour of charging. Tesla Motors recommends using this type of outlet. With the Tesla Model S, an hour of charging gives you 29 miles of range. That is over 200 miles over 8 hours of charging.
When using a 240v outlet, you need the circuitry to be dedicated to the EV. The circuitry has to be rated for 20-100 amps.
How Long to Full Charge from Empty?
Most EV owners don’t wait for their cars to recharge from empty. The time it takes to a full charge depends on the size of the battery pack on your EV and the power source. Tesla Model S (2019) takes 21 hours to charge to full on a 110v outlet and 11 hours on a 240v outlet. Nissan Leaf 2018 will require 11 hours on a 110V outlet and 6 hours on a 240v outlet.
As you can see, the bigger the battery on your ride and the slower the charging outlet, the longer it will take to charge from empty to full. That’s why Tesla motors recommends installing a 240v charging station.
How much does it Cost to Charge an EV at Home?
Fuel costs for an electric vehicle are much lower than the conventional car because electricity rates are relatively stable. Depending on the country’s national average, 13.01 cents/kWh in the US and 12.6 cents/kWh in the UK, to fully charge an EV with a 100-mile range from empty to full will cost the same as operating a central air conditioner for six hours.
How about installing a dedicated Level 2 Charging Station?
Most homes come with 240v service where you can readily install Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). It should cost you anywhere from $500 to $2000. You may even qualify for EVSE state or utility incentives for your area.
But if your home is old, it may require an electrical service upgrade. Older homes mostly have 100 amps of service. If you have a dryer and air conditioner using the same circuity, know that you can’t exceed the electric load. In this case, you may want to rethink a dedicated level 2 charging station. An electrical upgrade is expensive, and you have to run it by the local building permit department.
Although expensive, it may be worth it if you drive far distances every day. More so if you own a Tesla because it requires a specialized power point to meet its more extensive battery needs.
Safety Tips when Charging an EV at Home
- Always use the supplied EVSE or charging adapter that comes with the vehicle.
- Never use a power strip or extension block with EVSE. If the EVSE charging cable’s length is not enough, consider installing a level 2 charging station in your garage.
- Assess the power outlet and EVSE for damages before plugging an electric vehicle. Get any faulty charging equipment checked by an electrician.
- Avoid using modified charging equipment.
- Don’t DIY electric installations like a level 2 charging station if you are not a certified electrician.
Where Else to Plug-In
Although electric charging stations are spread thin, you may want to look at plugshare.com for charging stations in your area. You can also ask your boss about charging your car while at work. For Tesla EV owners, you will be able to plug in at Tesla Superchargers for rapid charging of your car.
Consider Solar Energy for your Electric Vehicle
Solar is a great option when it comes to being energy-efficient. If you can’t install a dedicated charging station for your EV, a set of solar panels will give you adequate power to charge your vehicle every day. You can install the panels on you garage roof, and the energy is fed to a 110v outlet. It’s best to look for available subsidies for home charging, because solar panels have high upfront expenses.
You can plug an electric vehicle into a regular outlet, regardless of where you live on the globe. Electric Vehicle automakers have designed EVSEs to be compatible with regular outlets. While cities are taking small steps to make charging stations available, you can rest easy knowing your ride will have enough juice for the commute in the morning.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.