One of the greatest benefits of owning an electric vehicle is the affordability and convenience of plugging in. Charging shouldn’t be a hassle. In fact, waking up every morning with a full ‘tank’ of electrons is an added convenience that saves time and money. But EVs are a new way of doing things, and adapting may involve a learning curve. We’ll address five common myths about charging at home while exploring a range of options for today’s EVs.
Myth #1: I have to wait around for my car to charge
This misconception confuses road tripping with day to day life owning an EV. Ready to have your mind blown? With an EV, you wake up with a full battery every single morning. Just charge your car while you sleep! How often do you go on road trips? On the interstate, it’s true that you can expect to spend roughly 20-40 minutes plugged in at a fast charger every 200 miles or so. If this sounds like a bit much, consider how many minutes you’ll save over the long run by skipping your weekly trips to the gas station.
Myth #2: Charging is expensive
Once again, this myth confuses long-distance travel with how 84% of EV charging is done: at home. Not only is electricity far cheaper than gasoline, electric vehicles are also much more efficient than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Smart home chargers can even schedule charging for the off-peak times when electricity is cheapest, which is usually in the dead of night.
Public fast charging sessions CAN be nearly as costly as a tank of gas. But bear in mind that you’ll only use these fast chargers when you’re travelling long distances away from home. Volkswagen, Hyundai and others have offered a period of free charging for new car buyers, three years with unlimited miles in the case of Volkswagen. Free charging incentives are something to consider when shopping for a new EV.
Real-world charging cost examples: America’s best-selling EV, the Tesla Model 3, has a usable battery capacity of about 77 kilowatt-hours, which will power about 350 miles of driving in the city, or 310 miles on the highway. The average residential electric rate in the US is $0.14 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Say you return home after a long day of driving and plug in. A full charge from empty to 100% will only cost $10.78 at $0.14 per kWh. But say you’re on the road, and you need to stop at an Electrify America fast charger or Tesla Supercharger. At $0.31/kWh, public chargers can be more than twice the price of home charging. A full charge at one of these ‘expensive’ stations might cost you $20-$25. Not bad compared to today’s gas prices!
Myth #3: I have to buy an expensive home charger
All EVs come with a free ‘trickle charger’, also known as a ‘level 1’ charger. This is the kind of charger you simply plug into a regular 120 volt wall outlet. These chargers provide about 3-4 miles of charge per hour, but if you leave your car plugged in at home overnight, 12 hours will get you over 36 miles of added range. The average American drives just 25 miles per day. For the typical driver, a level 1 charger is enough to wake up to a full battery every morning.
If you regularly drive more than 50 miles a day and don’t want to stop by a public fast charger to top off your battery, then installing a faster ‘level 2’ home charger may be worth the expense. A level 2 charger requires a 240 volt outlet, the same kind that’s used for large home appliances like washers and dryers. Installing a 240 V outlet and buying a level 2 charger is not cheap. Parts and labor will set you back between $850-$2,000 in most cases. However, if you have a 240 V outlet already within reach of where you’ll charge your car, all you need to do is buy the level 2 charger. A decent level 2 charger sells for $300-$600.
If your 240 V outlet is already supplying an appliance with power, you can purchase a splitter from NeoCharge, Splitvolt, or another maker. A splitter plugs in directly to the 240 V outlet. You then plug both the appliance and EV charger into the splitter. The appliance will always receive priority. When not in use, the splitter sends energy to the car charger. Splitters are often on sale for less than $350.
Myth #4: I’ll have to re-do my home’s electrical wiring
If, like most American drivers, you can manage just fine with the level 1 trickle charger, you won’t need to update any of your home’s electrical wiring. If you drive more than 50 miles each day frequently, you can either visit public fast chargers or opt to install a level 2 charger at your home. If you need to install a level 2 charger, there’s a chance that you’ll need an electrician to do some work, and possibly even upgrade your home to a modern circuit breaker box. If that’s required, you may need to spend somewhere between $500-$2,000 for electrical upgrades. But in most cases, you won’t need to spend a dime on upgrades.
Myth #5: I need a garage
A garage is just a matter of convenience. Sure, garages are great, but there’s nothing wrong with charging in your driveway. EVs were engineered to safely charge in any weather conditions. No one would buy them if you had to worry about electrocution on a daily basis! If you live in an apartment, townhome or condo, check with the property managers to see if there’s a dedicated spot for EV charging. Many communities now encourage EV charging and provide residents with access to complimentary level 2 chargers. Perhaps your inquiry will be the motivation they need to install some EV chargers.
The CarEdge Takeaway
Charging an EV is not the hassle it’s worked up to be. It is a big shift in the automotive lifestyle, but it brings benefits and cost savings that combustion vehicles can’t offer. You’ll most likely be able to fill up your battery every night with no additional expenses needed, but that can change for drivers who regularly go the distance. Hopefully this myth-busting resource will help you decide if EVs are right for you. With so many EVs coming to showrooms in 2022, what do you think? Are EVs ready for prime time?