Don’t Compare EV Charging to Stopping for Gas

Whether you’re the kind of person who doesn’t let your tank get below half full or who waits until your car is running on empty, no one likes stopping for gas. That said, up until now, you haven’t had another choice. Electric vehicles (EVs) change that. An often overlooked aspect of electric vehicle ownership is the benefit of topping up your EV’s battery every night. 

A common concern among non-EV owners is that charging is too slow. It’s easy to understand where this misconception stems from. It’s true that fully charging your car at home will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on your EV charger, which, in comparison to the 5 minutes it takes to refuel at a gas station, may seem more inconvenient. The problem is this actually isn’t a good comparison.

If everyone lived at gas stations then it would make sense to measure charging speed against the time it takes to pump gas. Notably, EV companies are not trying to perfectly replicate the gas station model, but instead offer the benefits that stem from the innovation of charging at home. 

Home Charging

Every EV can fully recharge overnight with an installed Level 2 charger. The simplicity behind this concept means the results are sometimes overlooked. Just taking a moment to plug your car in when you arrive home in the evening means you will wake up to a full battery. This, coupled with ranges of 200+ miles in most cases, is comparable to waking up to a full tank of gas everyday. Only the most extreme commutes could find EV drivers at risk of running out of juice. 

Again, unless you stop to consider this, it’s easy to overlook the benefits. We’ve all been heading home from work only to realize that the tank is running low. Then we’re stuck in that conundrum of “do I just head home directly and deal with stopping for gas on the way to work in the morning, or do I delay my arrival home and get gas now?”. Either way, it’s a hassle and something that we can all agree would be nicer if not necessary at all. With an EV and a Level 2 charger at home, this type of conundrum doesn’t exist. 

Depending on the specific model of EV you may not even need to plug in your car every night. Some EVs are now coming with battery ranges up to 500 miles. If you have a fairly short commute, it’s entirely possible you could get by with only charging once or twice a week. So at this point, you may think this all sounds pretty great for daily use, but what about for long road trips?

Road Trips 

As ranges continue to increase, plenty of road trips are possible with a single, full charge. That said, on some longer trips there’s no way around having to stop and charge. Fortunately, there are more powerful chargers that are ideal for situations like this. Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers, also known as Level 3 chargers are capable of charging most EVs from 0-80% in under an hour. While undoubtedly not as fast as filling up a gas tank, this time is good for taking a break from driving. DC Fast Chargers are generally found at rest areas along highways, so you can couple your charging with grabbing a bite to eat and using the bathroom. Furthermore, many EV companies and charging companies are developing even faster DC Fast Chargers so in many cases that 0-80% charge time is dropping below half an hour. We fully expect this number to continue falling as EV adoption continues to increase. 

With that in mind, a common question we are asked is: can I install a DC Fast Charger at home? We’ve somewhat addressed this in our blog about installing a Tesla Supercharger at home, but we’ll explain more broadly here. 

Possible But Not Practical

While it’s hypothetically possible to get a Level 3 charger installed at home, there are a variety of factors that make it impractical. First, most homes don’t have the electrical service required to power DC Fast Chargers. While this could be added, it would be an extremely expensive upgrade, likely costing tens of thousands of dollars. Speaking of costs, the Level 3 charging hardware itself is prohibitively expensive. While pricing does vary, most cost around $50,000.  

Finally, you should not  use Level 3 chargers on a frequent basis as this can degrade the battery. The additional power involved in Level 3 charging adds a lot of heat to the battery pack. If this happens frequently, it can cause battery health degradation that reduces the range of your vehicle and possible charging speeds. That said, occasional use of Level 3 chargers is absolutely fine, and you should not worry about damaging your car if you’re only charging every once in a while on road trips. 

It’s easy to get hung up on charging speeds, thinking faster is better. Though that is true to some extent on road trips, it’s not an important factor for daily use. A Level 2 EV charger installation at home opens the doors to starting every day with a full charge. Say yes to convenience and goodbye to gas stations. 
Contact us today to schedule a free quote in Northern Virginia or the metro Maryland area.

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