How do electric car charging stations work?

8 minute read Published on Nov 30, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Close-up View Of Charging Electric Car In Parking Garage

If you’re planning on buying an electric car (EV), there are a few things you need to know. For instance, you will need to know how to prepare your home for electric cars, as well as how electric car insurance works. But more than this, you will also need to know how electric car charging stations work. After all, you will need to charge your EV on a regular basis. Continue reading to learn more about electric car charging stations.

Electric vehicle charging stations

How do electric vehicle charging stations work to charge your EV? Let’s find out. First, all cars have batteries, whether we’re talking about electric cars or gas-powered cars. That said, the typical gas-powered car battery is different from an electric car battery, with the former being much smaller than the latter. Electric cars use larger lithium-ion batteries that need to be plugged in and charged for long periods of time in order to reach their maximum capacity. A charging station provides this service. It charges your car battery so that your EV can run. Since electric cars are dependent on just that - electricity - as opposed to gasoline, they need to be at least partially charged if you want to drive them.

There are two main types of electric vehicle charging stations: at-home charging stations and public electric vehicle charging stations, also known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). At-home chargers vary, but generally, they take much longer to charge an electric car, especially since you are likely plugging your car into a standard 120-volt wall outlet. With this voltage, it could take a full day to recharge your EV. In contrast, EVSEs have a much higher voltage, allowing them to charge cars at faster speeds than at-home chargers.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The amount of time it takes to charge an electric car depends on what level of charger you’re using. There are three levels of charges: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Depending on what level you’re using, fully charging your electric vehicle could take as little as 15 minutes or over 40 hours. We explain each type of charger below:

Level 1 electric vehicle chargers

A Level 1 EV charger is essentially a typical 120-volt outlet. This is the same type of outlet that you would plug an iPhone charger or television into. Level 1 EV chargers are most commonly found in people’s homes, especially those who do not want to alter their electrical system to accommodate a higher voltage for a faster EV charger. If you’re using a Level 1 electric vehicle charge, it could take between 40 and 50 hours for your car to go from empty to fully charged. Depending on how frequently you drive your vehicle, this might suit your needs. However, for others, the long charge time may be extremely inconvenient.

Level 2 electric vehicle chargers

Level 2 EV chargers are a step up from Level 1 chargers in that they use a 220-volt outlet nearly double a Level 1 charger. Think of this as an outlet in your home you would use to plug in a household appliance, such as a refrigerator or washing machine. With a 220-volt charger, you can charge an empty electric vehicle in an average of four to ten hours. Level 2 EV chargers are found in public places, such as in office buildings or shopping mall parking lots. This is the most common type of charge that EV drivers choose to install in their homes or garages, as it allows their cars to become fully charged overnight.

Level 3 electric vehicle chargers

Finally, Level 3 EV chargers are the fastest chargers out there. Also known as direct current fast chargers or DCFCs for short, they can fully charge your EV in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. DCFC chargers are generally only found in public locations and unsurprisingly, they are the most expensive type of EV charging station to use. As such, they are typically only used by drivers on road trips or those who can’t make it home in time to recharge their cars. It’s worth noting that the frequent use of DCFCs can degrade your EV battery, shortening its lifespan. Thus, they should be used sparingly, such as on long road trips or in emergency situations. If you were to make them your regular method of charging, you would likely need to replace the battery much faster.

As you can see, how long it takes to charge an electric car largely depends on the type of charger you use. Level 2 chargers are definitely the most popular, especially for regular, at-home use. However, Level 3 chargers are the most powerful and can fully charge your car in a matter of minutes. Generally speaking, experts recommend using Level 2 chargers for everyday use and Level 3 chargers for specific circumstances, such as time-sensitive situations.

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?

How much it costs to charge an electric vehicle depends on what type of charger you use. That said, on average, charging an EV from empty to full will cost between $30 and $40. Generally speaking, the faster the station charges your car, the more expensive it will be because it’s using more energy to do so. That is why Level 3 DCFCs cost more than Level 2 chargers. It’s worth noting that there may be ways to charge your EV for free. For instance, some companies offer free EV charging at the workplace. Similarly, some retail stores let customers charge their cars for free in the parking lot while they shop.

Where can I find an electric car charging station?

A simple Google search can allow you to locate electric car charging stations near you. Some automakers, such as Tesla, even have onboard trip planners that show you the nearest stations while driving. If you’re having trouble locating an EV charger near you, a good place to start is with restaurant, hotel, and shopping centre parking lots, as well as public parking garages.

How to charge your electric car at a charging station

Now that you know how long it will take to charge your EV, how the different types of chargers work, and where you can find them, let’s explore how to charge your EV. If you’re new to the world of electric cars, you may find the task of charging your car daunting, especially given that doing so is such a foreign concept compared to filling your car with gas. Below, we outline the steps to charging your EV at an electric car charging station:

Sign up for an account

Most public EV charging stations require users to create an account. This process is usually relatively simple and will require your name, email address, phone number, and credit card information. Once signed up, the machine may issue you a card that you can use in the future to activate the EV charger. Public EV chargers will also have a phone number you can call if you have any questions or need help.

Open your car’s charging port

Open your car’s charging port using the button or switch in your car. Most EV charging port buttons are located on the dashboard or the driver’s side door. You will need to either press down on the button or flip the switch to release the charging port cover. If this doesn’t work, you might also be able to open the charging port cover manually using your hands.

Pick up the EV charger from the holster and plug it in

This process is similar to picking up the gas pump at a gas station. From there, simply plug it into your car’s charging port and let it charge. You can walk away during this time or remain seated in your car. As your car is charging, especially if it’s your first time charging it, keep an eye on the display. The display on the EV charger will show you exactly how much electricity and therefore how much money you have added to your electric car. Just like if you were filling your car with gas, you can choose whether to fully charge your EV or only partially charge it.

Can I charge my electric car while driving?

In short? No. Your electric car won’t charge while being driven and you cannot plug it into a charger while driving. Thus, you will need to pull over, bring the car to a complete stop, turn it off, and plug it into an EV charging station if you want to charge it.

What should I do if my electric car runs out of battery while driving?

If your electric car runs out of battery while driving, you will likely have to call a tow truck to tow you home or to the nearest EV charging station. Unfortunately, you can’t simply walk or hitch a ride to the nearest gas station to buy some gas and bring it back to your car. Thankfully, few drivers completely drain their EV batteries while driving. This is due to the fact that most vehicles give drivers plenty of warning that they are low on charge. If you do end up getting stuck and need to call a tow, you should find out if your car insurance plan covers it. Some types of auto insurance will cover the cost of towing, but it depends on the terms and conditions of your policy. Contact BrokerLink to learn all about auto insurance and what documents you need for car insurance.

Will my electric car lose its charge if it’s driven in the cold?

The odds are high that your electric car will lose its charge faster when driven in the cold. Extreme temperatures in general can reduce the battery capacity of EVs. Experts suggest that electric cars lose between 12% and 41% of their driving range when driven in cold weather. To ensure your car runs as efficiently as possible during the cold months, park your car in a covered garage overnight and turn on the heater before you unplug it from your at-home charging station.

Reach out to BrokerLink to learn more about electric car charging stations

Knowing how to use electric car charging stations and which type makes the most sense for your EV can be difficult. Thankfully, BrokerLink is here to guide you. We are automotive experts who can help you with all your EV needs. Whether you want to learn about the different types of EV charging stations or have questions about how electric car insurance works, contact BrokerLink today. We have a team of licensed insurance professionals who can explain what types of electric car insurance are mandatory, like uninsured automobile insurance, as well as how different factors like accidents affect car insurance rates.

Further, we aim to make electric car insurance as affordable as possible. This is why your dedicated BrokerLink insurance broker will give you all sorts of tips on ways that you can save money on your policy, such as by buying multiple auto insurance policies. We can also provide you with a free car insurance quote in minutes. Give us a call, visit us in person, or use the online quote tool on the BrokerLink website to request your free electric car insurance quote today.

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