With US electric vehicle (EV) sales growing—about 7% of new car sales this year—keeping them charged is causing many owners to worry.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, people are finding that the public charging system is unreliable, inconvenient, and confusing. Calling the US charging network “broken and dysfunctional,” the Post reports that charging stations are often hard to find and often unusable.
The article goes on to say, “Drivers might show up at a DC-fast charging station — which can fill a vehicle’s battery by 80 percent in about 20 minutes — to find that most of the chargers are broken. Or one might work, but only if the driver installs a particular app on their phone, creates an account and loads money onto it.”
Planning and Prevention Are Key to EV Driving
The 5-P adage “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performa” holds as true for operating an electric vehicle as it does for other tasks. While using an EV for daily commuting and chores can be done over several days without worrying about running out of power, longer trips such as intercity travel and vacations may require several stops to recharge. So just like planning which roadside attractions, gas stations, or restaurants to stop at, EV drivers need to know where the EV charging stations are along their route. And in trips through remote and sparsely populated areas, those stations can be few and far between.
Don’t presume that arriving in a big city will make things better, either.
The Post article cites a 2022 study by the University of California and a climate advocacy group that tested every fast charging station in the San Francisco Bay Area. They found that more than 25% of the 657 charging points didn’t function during a two-minute charging test. Sometimes the charging cable couldn’t reach the vehicle’s charging port, other times the payment system wouldn’t work, and sometimes the charger’s screen was broken or the network was down.
So how do you prevent charging headaches?
While they may not solve all the issues, especially on long trips, home chargers can at least give you the comfort of starting the journey with a full battery. Plus, they save you time and money in daily use.
Home Chargers Save Money and Misery
If you’re juicing up your EV at a commercial charging station, you could be paying a lot. In a recent article in the newsletter Torque News, a writer claimed that at a commercial DC fast charger he paid nearly three times what it cost to fuel up his gas guzzler for the same amount of mileage—30 cents vs 12 cents per mile.
At the fast charger, he paid $10.15 for 9.5 kilowatt hours (kwh) or nearly $1.07 per kwh. That’s close to ten times the rate charged by Xcel Energy to residential customers in Colorado if you charge at home between 7 pm and 1 pm the following day.
Like conventional vehicles, EVs vary in how many miles you can go on a kilowatt hour of battery use. Compact EVs get the best mileage, just like gasoline-powered cars, and the miles per kwh go down with high-performance cars and heavy trucks.
Where You Charge Makes a Big Difference
EV chargers are rated on three levels. Level 1, chargers can be plugged into a standard home outlet—presuming you have enough power at that location. If there’s much of anything else on the circuit, charging a car could cause an overload. Plus, it takes a l-o-n-g time to fully charge your car with a Level 1 charger.
Level 2 chargers run on a dedicated 240-volt AC circuits of 40 amps or more and can fully charge a typical EV in 5-12 hours, making them perfect for home use overnight, but are only practical for partial charging at commercial stations given the time it takes to charge.
Level 3 DC fast chargers use direct current (DC) at very high voltages to deliver lots of charge in a relatively short time. They take around 20-60 minutes to charge an average EV to 80%, depending on battery type.
Bottom Line: Home Charging Saves Both Time and Money
Even 15 minutes can seem like an eternity standing around a charging station, especially in bad weather or with other people waiting. Not to mention that you’ll probably pay 5-10 time more that you would at home.
Adding a home EV charging station makes lots of sense for homeowners. It lets them charge their vehicle(s) conveniently at home, using their time better and avoiding the hassle and expense of commercial charging stations. Plus, since they’ll probably be charging overnight, they’ll be buying electricity at off-peak rates instead of higher daytime prices (and without markups for overhead and profits).
Plus, it adds value to a home when it comes time to sell.
Since 2016, Denver and many other locations require that all new single-family residential construction include provisions for Level 2 EV charging stations. At minimum, residential garages and carports must have sufficient electrical conduit installed to enable 240-volt, 40-amp wiring to be easily pulled to an outlet for future EV charging stations.
But unless an EV charger is already installed, there’s more work to do.
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, schedule an appointment our website or give us a call at 303.399.7420.