How long do I have to plug in my car?

5 minute read Published on Mar 15, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

A person charging an electric white car with power supply cable.

Owning an electric vehicle (EV) means recharging the car's battery regularly. Whether you keep your car plugged in overnight before your morning commute or need to refuel in the middle of the day, ensuring you have enough battery is essential.

Unlike a quick five-minute stop at the gas station, it can take much longer for you to charge electric vehicle batteries. Plugging in your car at the right time ensures you don't get stranded on the road, especially since you can't make a pit stop at the nearest gas station or carry extra fuel in the truck.

Determining whether an electric car is worth it requires understanding the different parts of owning one. This guide explores how long you should be plugging in your car to a charger at home or a charging station.

Why do I need to plug in my car?

Electric vehicles have one or more electric motors that power the cars. For their cars to drive, drivers have to charge the car battery. Plugging your car into a charging station adds electricity to the car's battery, which converts it into energy that powers the engine and allows you to drive. While hybrid cars use gas and battery, all-electric vehicles rely solely on electricity from plugging your car into a charging station.

Types of electric vehicle chargers

Different types of electric car chargers impact how much charge you get and how fast your car charges. All electric cars can use a charger with a higher maximum charge rate than they can handle. It gives you more options to keep your battery full and avoid needing roadside assistance.

Here are the chargers you may find at home or in public:

Home charging stations

Most electric vehicle drivers likely have a home charging station in their garages. Home charging stations typically use about 7,200 watts of electricity. It can take anywhere from two hours to more than 10 hours to fully charge the car battery. The exact amount of time depends on the type of electric vehicle you have. Most people plug in their car overnight and wake up to a fully charged battery.

Rapid charging stations

Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge electric vehicles. They range from 15 kW to 350 kW. Some megawatt charging stations can produce up to 1000 kW to charge your car battery. A rapid charging station can fully charge your car's battery in less than one hour. It saves you waiting time and helps you get back on the road faster.

How do electric charging stations work?

An electric car charger pulls a current from an electrical outlet or grid to deliver power to your car battery. Energy can be harnessed from different sources. Depending on the make and model of your electric car, there are a few standard plugs, car outlets, and battery types. Charging stations commonly use electrical energy stored in fuel cells to fuel the motor that spins the car wheels. You plug the charger into an electrical cord that connects it from the outlet or grid to the charging point in your car.

As electric vehicles become more popular, the infrastructure for electric vehicle chargers will become more developed. Better technology and innovation mean EV charging stations will become more accessible and sustainable. You can see more charging stations in public spaces, like malls, restaurants, airports, and parking garages.

How long should I plug in my electric vehicle?

A regular charger takes a few hours to almost a full day to fully charge your car battery. A rapid charger, or a megawatt charger, can fully charge your car in under one hour. It depends on the make and model of your vehicle and the type of charger you use. Some vehicles take longer to charge, while others can charge quicker. If you don't need to fully charge your vehicle, you don't have to keep it plugged into an electrical outlet for so long.

How far can an electric car go?

Like gasoline cars, the fuel economy of your EV depends on the make and model of your car. More batteries supply more power to the engine, allowing it to have a further driving range. However, it'll make the car heavier, and the engine will require more electricity.

Fewer batteries supply less power, so you'll have to recharge sooner. However, the car will be lighter and won't need as much charge. The fuel consumption depends on your car and how much charge you give the battery.

How can I save money when plugging in my car?

You pay at a gas pump when fuelling your gasoline-powered vehicle. You also have to pay when using an EV charging station. Public charging stations typically charge for every kW, so you pay based on the total kW you use. If you have a home charging station, you have to consider the electricity bill.

Here are some ways to save money when plugging your EV:

Charge at home during off-peak hours

Electricity costs less during off-peak hours. You can save a few dollars by plugging in your car during off-peak hours. For example, off-peak hours for electricity in Ontario are between 7 pm and 7 am on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays. You can set your at-home EV charger to charge your car during these off-peak hours.

Warm up your car in the winter months in Canada

Winters are cold in Canada. A cold engine isn't as efficient, which uses up more energy, and batteries tend to drain faster. Plugging your car into engine block heaters can warm up the car battery before driving off. The engine block heater makes it more comfortable for you to avoid the cold air and ensures the engine doesn't need to work harder. Keeping the engine warm using a block heater cord also keeps the engine parts in good condition to last longer.

You can use an engine block heater timer to warm up the car during certain periods when the temperature dips, such as in the morning before your commute. The block heater timer will turn on automatically to warm the engine and battery, so you don't have to worry about it. Warming up the car while it's plugged into the charger ensures you don't waste battery. Natural Resources Canada recommends warming up the car battery before driving when temperatures dip below -15 degrees Celcius.

Need electric vehicle insurance?

Preparing your home for an electric car is essential. Whether you have a hybrid vs. electric car, you should have the right infrastructure to plug in your car. It's also essential to understand the hidden costs of owning an electric car and find ways to save money, such as reducing your power bill. Fewer moving parts means EV drivers can pay for cheaper hybrid and electric car maintenance. Additional benefits include better fuel economy and less tailpipe emissions.

If you're looking for affordable electric car insurance, we can help. BrokerLink has a network of quality car insurance providers to help you choose the best policy. We use the information you give us to find optimal affordability and coverage. For example, if you have a Tesla, you can compare Tesla car insurance quotes to find the best price.

If you're looking for more affordability, we can help you bundle your car insurance with a home insurance policy to get discounts. Reliable electric cars deserve the best insurance coverage to protect you in case of an accident. Regardless of what type of auto insurance you need, we help you create the best policy for your situation.

Get started with BrokerLink today by calling us or visiting one of our branches across Canada.

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