Don’t be Shocked by Your New EV

You’ve probably heard that many first-time electric vehicle (EV) owners say they regret their purchase. But dig deeper and you’ll find that most of that disappointment is the result of not knowing the proper care and feeding of an electric vehicle.

The complaints tend to focus on three factors: charging, lack of range, and cost of maintenance (we presume they knew the purchase price before they bought it.) Let’s look at each one.

EV Charging Considerations

Like any other rechargeable electric device, EVs need to have access to a source of electricity, just like internal combustion vehicles need gas stations. One big advantage of EVs, though, is that unlike gasoline-powered machines, filling up an EV can be done right at home…while you sleep. And while you can plug your EV into regular 120-volt household current (as we’re sure the seller pointed out), you may not like the result, especially if you have a long trip planned for the next day.

A typical 120-volt overnight charge barely moves the needle on your charge indicator. As one writer noted, when he charged his Hyundai Ioniq 6 for 14 ½ hours, it only added about 27 miles to his battery’s range. And while that may suffice for a trip to the supermarket or a short commute, it won’t help much for longer trips. What he didn’t understand was that there are several levels of charging.

Level Counts

Home current charging is what’s known as Level 1 charging. As noted above, it may do for short trips, but doesn’t cut it for longer drives. When you step up to 240-volt Level 2 charging, the improvement is dramatic.

With Level 2 charging, that same Hyundai went from 0-80% charged in just under seven hours. And Level 2 chargers are readily available for home installation, where it’s most convenient and economical.  Costs can vary, but if your home is less than three years old, many Colorado cities have mandated EV pre-wiring in all new single-family homes, cutting Level 2 home charger installation costs dramatically. If your home is older or if your local codes don’t require pre-wiring, you’ll need more electrical work, sometimes considerably more. For a complete look at the needs and costs of installing a Level 2 home EV charging station, see this article on the Allstar Electrical website.

Regardless, you’ll need a licensed professional electrician familiar with home EV charging stations to do the work.

Level 3 charging is what you’ll find at commercial “fast charging” stations. They use high-voltage DC power to pump electrons into your battery, often filling an EV battery from 0-80% in under 30 minutes. Of course, fast charging comes at a cost since equipping and operating a station is quite expensive. Consequently, you’ll only find them at commercial locations.

EV Ranges

While you’ll not get the 500-mile range available with some internal combustion engines (ICEs), many EVs now boast 300-plus mile capability when fully charged. The key is to buy an EV that matches your driving habits and pay attention to its range indicator, just like you do to the gas gauge on an ICE car. The consequences of running out aren’t any different on either type of engine…with one notable exception.

When you run out of gas, a service vehicle can show up with enough fuel to get you to the nearest filling station. So far, service trucks can’t carry enough electricity to get an EV back on the road, meaning you’ll need a tow. Plus, Level 2 or 3 charging stations aren’t as plentiful as gas stations, so it may be a longer journey to fill up. Know where charging stations are located on your route and be sure to top off well before you reach too low a level, just like with any other vehicle.

Other things can affect an EV’s range. Mountainous or hilly driving can use up power faster than on level roads—just like with gas-powered vehicles, as do things like air conditioning and entertainment systems. Plus, batteries don’t like to be cold; their output decreases as the temperature drops. Being aware of the load on your battery and its range can save trouble down the road.

Maintenance of EVs

One attraction of EVs is their lower need for routine maintenance compared to other types of vehicles. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t needed and often that work is only available at the dealer, and like with other cars, that can be more expensive than at independent shops. You may even need to get tires at the dealer since they are designed differently from other types.

That can also be true of accessories and body work. But those costs are offset by less frequent maintenance needs, so while the bills may be higher, they should come less often.

Knowledge is Power

The bottom line is that if you get the right knowledge before buying an EV, its convenience and operating costs can be better than those of a gas-powered car. The installation cost of a home charging station will often add to your home’s resale value, making it a good investment financially, too.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of a home EV charging system, see this article on the Allstar Electrical website. Allstar Electrical Services has installed dozens of EV charging stations in homes, parking garages, and at businesses with multiple EV fleets. We’ve helped Coloradans increase efficiency while adding comfort and convenience to their homes and businesses for over 20 years.

For an estimate on installing a home EV charger or to learn more about the many ways upgraded electric services and emerging technologies can improve your home or business, visit our website or give us a call at 303.399.7420.