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Charging Ahead: What You Need to Know About Powering Electric Vehicles

We’re seeing far more electric vehicles on the road. From the spunky but practical Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf to the ultra-luxe BMW i8 and Porsche Taycan, EVs are making significant inroads in the auto market. They have the potential to curb carbon emissions, reduce fossil fuel dependency, and facilitate energy independence on a large scale – but what about charging? What are your options, and are they as widely accessible as the cars themselves?

THE COST OF OPERATING AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE

EVs cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered vehicles. It is also important to note that the cost of electricity is trending down as renewable energy production ramps up. Owners can also take advantage of state and federal incentives, such as rebates and tax credits, which further drive down the cost of operating an EV.

But… is keeping your EV charged up and ready to go a hassle?

AT-HOME ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING OPTIONS

According to the US Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, EV drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home. So, you slash spending at the pump, but are you making up for it on your electricity bills and charging costs? The short answer: no.

Let’s say you drive an EV with a 70-mile range, and it has a fully depleted 24kWh battery. If electricity costs $0.11 per kWh (about the national average), it’ll cost you a whopping $2.64 to charge it up. To put that into perspective, it’s about the same cost as running a central air conditioner for six hours.

Additionally, Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) has a special EVX meter rate for its customers; this allows you to drive an electric vehicle for 12,000 miles for under $50 in electric energy costs. That’s a jaw-droppingly low $0.004 a mile.

LEVEL 1 EV CHARGING

You can opt for level 1 charging; here you simply plug your car into a standard 120V household outlet. Most EVs are equipped with a regular three-pronged charging cord, and it takes 17-25 hours to fully charge the vehicle’s battery. It seems like a long time, but many drivers do not fully deplete their batteries; if you plug in when you are home in the evening, you should be good to go by morning.

Think of your EV like a very big appliance; just like your range or refrigerator, it needs a dedicated circuit. All this means is that it has its own circuit breaker, which will be used only for EV charging. If you don’t have one in your garage or carport, an electrician will make quick work of it.

That’s all you need for level 1 charging. Unless you drive a Tesla, your EV will come with a level 1 cord set. Level 2 is often available as an option.

LEVEL 2 EV CHARGING

Level 2 charging is faster, needing only four to six hours to replenish a depleted battery. They require 240V electrical circuits instead of standard 120V. Again, you need a dedicated circuit. You will also need a level 2 residential EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) wall unit, which costs from $500 – $2000 (before installation). Your state or utility may have incentives to help you cut the costs; some banking institutions will provide energy specific loans for investments like EV charging or a solar panel array.

If your home has adequate electrical service, installation is quick and simple. Work with an experienced electrician to ensure you’re meeting local, state, and national codes and regulations.

*Tesla’s EVs are an anomaly here as they use a proprietary connector.

EV CHARGING ON THE GO

You’re out and about: do you know of any charging stations on the routes you normally drive? If not, you’re not alone: 75% of us don’t know either! In fact, lack of ability to charge on the go is the second most common reason people give for not buying EVs.

Dale Hall, electric vehicle researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, says, “[M]ost of the early market has grown without using much public charging because many people can charge at home and complete almost all trips within an EV’s range. But for EVs to be convenient to use and satisfy the needs of all drivers, a robust charging network would be a major benefit.”

The good news for EV drivers – and those considering driving down the electric route – is that the number of level 2 and DC fast charging stations is growing. There are over 20,000 stations with more than 68,800 connectors, and more are on the way:

Gilbarco Veeder-Root, one of the largest fuel dispenser suppliers in the country – has invested in EV charging company Tritium. We can expect to see charging capacity at more of our our local gas stations and convenience stores in the near future.

Electrify America, the largest network of fast charging stations in the US, is investing $2 billion to build 2000 high-speed chargers throughout the country – and is committed to ending “range anxiety.”

California, New York, and New Jersey are putting down a collective $1.3 billion to beef up EV charging infrastructure.

Electrify America is teaming up with ChargePoint (one of the largest charging networks in the US) to make it easier for drivers to switch between charging networks without having to worry about creating new memberships, registering, or figuring out payment. This will connect more than 30,000 level 2 and DC fast charging stations across the country.

You can also easily locate charging stations with apps like ChargeHub, PlugShare, and even Google Maps.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – ONE MILE AT A TIME

The electric vehicle charging industry creates solid American jobs as we build an infrastructure that will accommodate the growing demand for EVs. At the same time, it allows us the opportunity to make a significant leap forward in terms of energy independence, which provides greater stability and security to consumers and the country as a whole. As demand grows, we will see continued investment in public charging stations. In the meantime, we can enjoy low-cost charging right at home.

If you have any questions about your home’s capacity to handle electric vehicle charging safely, contact Jefferson Electric today. We can help evaluate your current needs and install upgraded EV charging.

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