But perhaps what’s most telling is how consumers feel. Mindsets of millions have also shifted toward electric mobility, with over 45 percent of car customers considering buying an EV. This has led McKinsey & Company to profess that “the automotive future is electric” and that the tipping point in passenger EV adoption has already occurred.
While it’s true that charging an EV takes longer than filling it up with gas, the majority of the time, you don’t have to go out of your way to fill up your tank. Rather than driving to a gas station to fill up, you can charge where you park. And one of the best ways to do so is at home.
As electric vehicles become more common across the world, the bulk of the charging will take place at home. However, whilst charging at home is convenient, the concept is also something new, different, and quite possibly a bit overwhelming. In this post, we’re going to answer some common questions about charging at home, tell you what you’ll need to get started, and dive into some factors which influence costs and convenience.
Electric car charging at home is more convenient
We’ve all been there: Your tank is almost empty and you need to fill up. But you’ve got to get home in time for a dinner party. Maybe there’ll be time tomorrow morning before that big meeting. But maybe not? What do you do? Are you going to be late now or to go out of your way tomorrow?
This convenience, to leave the house with a full battery, is not only time-efficient, but it also helps to reduce one of the main reservations potential EV drivers have: range anxiety. EV range anxiety is the fear of running out of charge and not being able to find a changing station. However, in most daily driving situations—going to the office, dropping the kids off at school, or doing the grocery shopping—you won’t come close to reaching the median range of an EV which currently sits at around 402 kms (250 miles).
Electric car home charging stations: what are the possibilities?
There are three different levels of EV charging that you can use to power your vehicle—Level 1, 2, and 3—and the higher the charging level, the higher the power output and the faster it will charge your electric car.
In this section, we will go over the three different kinds of EV charging stations available on the market and which one is best for your home.
Level 1 EV charger
A Level 1 charger is one that you plug into the wall at home. As the charger can only draw a small amount of power from the standard household outlet, it’s the slowest way to charge an electric vehicle. However, it is the most accessible and affordable way to charge an EV—as you don’t need any additional infrastructure at your home and the cable often comes with the car.
How long it takes to charge an EV with a Level 1 charger depends on a few factors. For starters, the size of the onboard battery will obviously dictate how long it takes to charge a vehicle. As the maximum output of a Level 1 charger is 2.3 kW, one hour of charging will provide approximately 6-8 kms (4-5 miles) range.
To demonstrate this, a small passenger car, say a Nissan Leaf, with a battery capacity of 40 kilowatt-hours (kWh) would take approximately 20h to fully charge at this level. However, when considering a larger vehicle, say a Tesla with a battery capacity of 95.0 kWh would take more than two days to fully charge.
Depending on the number of kilometers you travel on average, Level 1 charging might be more than enough. If you’ve drive 80 kms (50 miles) a day, this means it will take you between 10 to 12.5 hours to fully charge your vehicle. However, because Level 1 is limited in its charging capabilities and not always as safe as you would like it to be, the majority of EV owners opt for a level 2 charging station instead.
Level 2 EV charger
Level 2 charging (often referred to as residential or AC chargers) is the next step in EV charging: it’s faster, smarter, safer, and more cost-efficient than Level 1 charging. They can be found at homes and apartment blocks as well as public spaces, commercial parking lots or at the office. Unlike Level 1 chargers, Level 2 chargers are separate stations that offer relatively fast charging speeds. However, this depends entirely on the power output.
At a minimum, Level 2 charging stations have the ability to deliver between 3.7 kW and 22 kW of power to an EV. At 22 kW, a Level 2 charging station can fully charge a Tesla Model 3 in approximately three hours and 45 minutes, but drop that down to the minimum of 3.7 kW and that number blows out to 13h45m. For the average electric vehicle, a Level 2 charging station at maximum power output will deliver approximately 120 kms of range for every hour the vehicle charges.
Whilst they need to be installed by a professional at your home, a Level 2 charging station is ideal for your home because they usually don’t require costly grid upgrades—simply connecting to your home's electricity supply via either 1-phase or 3-phase connectors.
Generally speaking, Level 2 is about five to 15 times faster than a Level 1 charger depending on the power output and the vehicle. If you want to know more about charging times at Level 2 check out these frequently asked questions.
Level 3 EV charger
Level 3 charging or DC charging as it’s commonly known, is the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle. At speeds of up between 50 and 250 kWh, a Level 3 charging station can charge an EV in the time it takes to have a coffee.
However, due to the high-power output, this kind of charging station requires a lot of space and costs roughly 50x what a Level 2 charging station might. As such, you don’t see Level 3 chargers in residential settings.
Instead, the major benefits of Level 3 charging stations lend themselves to being used in public and commercial settings. For more information about DC or Level 3 charging, take a look at this blog: What is Level 3 charging?
What is the best home EV charger?
Residential charging stations are usually Level 2 charging stations. Although many EV drivers start with Level 1 charging, they end up choosing to invest in a Level 2 charging station as it offers more functionalities, safety, convenience, and speed than its Level 1 counterpart.
How fast is a Level 2 charger?
Residential charging stations are usually Level 2 charging stations which deliver between 3.7 - 22 kW of power output. With a Level 2 charging station at maximum power output, one hour of charging will provide approximately 120 kms of range for an average EV.
However, as with all hardware, there are many different factors which affect charging speed. Firstly, the speed of residential charging stations varies depending on the type of charging point 1-phase, 3-phase, and whether they deliver 16 A or 32 A, the residential location’s power output, and the type of EV.
For an example of the different charging speeds for a Level 2 charging station at home, here's an overview of how long it will take to fully charge a Tesla Model 3.
As some residential homes may not be wired to deliver 22 kW of power, charging speeds will depend on how much power your home can take from the grid.
What does this mean in practice though? Well, the average electric vehicle can travel around 6.5 kms (4 miles) per kWh, so if you typically drive your car 1,000 miles a month, then you’ll need at least 250 kWh to charge it properly. At $0.13 per kWh, charging your vehicle will cost you approximately $32.50 a month. If you’re driving in Europe, then at €0.21 per kWh, that will cost you €52,5 a month.
To estimate how much it will cost to charge the equivalent of a full tank at home, the first thing you have to do is look at your current electric bill. There you should be able to find what price you pay for a kWh. Next you need to find out how far your vehicle can drive per kWh. Once you know both of these numbers, it’s easy to make a calculation of how much it costs to drive 100kms when you charge at home.
This is because, according to the researchers at the University of Michigan, always charging your vehicle to 100 percent SoC can cause stress: “The study says that consumers should minimize the amount of time a battery spends at either 100 percent charge or 0 percent charge. The reason: Extremely high and low state of charge (SoC) creates stress for batteries and shortens their life.”
One key recommendation which the team gives is to keep the vehicle’s charge between 20 percent to 80 percent battery capacity and only charge when it’s necessary, not to get to a full SoC every night.
How to reduce costs for EV home charging
To reduce costs for EV charging at home, it’s important to consider multiple factors, including the features your EV charging station has, when you charge, and whether you draw energy from the grid or use solar panels. Here are five tips to keep the cost of charging your EV at home down:
Make sure your charging station allows for scheduled charging. With scheduled charging you can charge your EV during off-peak times when it costs the lowest and protect your grid connection from overload.
Keep an eye on your charging session insights: by digging into your charging habits, you can get an understanding of both power usage and costs and model your charging schedule accordingly.
Consider using a green energy supply and profiting from energy creation. By connecting your charging station to a renewable energy supply like solar panels, you can produce your own electricity and reduce your reliance on electricity from the grid (as well as your costs).
Charging more than one EV? Then you should be looking for a charging station with load balancing. By distributing power between multiple EVs when charging, load balancing optimizes the power output so as to ensure that charging is smart, safe, and evenly distributed.
Ask your employer to reimburse your charging costs: If you're an employee, there's a chance your employer might want to contribute to your monthly transport costs as an employee benefit. Consider choosing an integrated charging management system which includes automatic reimbursement.
Before investing in a home charging station, it’s important to look into which of these features suits your needs and whether the charging station you choose provides them.