More automakers are now venturing into electric cars. As a potential car buyer, you need to know how to charge your car. Unlike gas cars where you have to refill at a gas station, electric cars can be charged at home.
The kind of outlet needed for an electric car depends on your car model. For example, a Chevrolet Volt uses a 120v outlet, while the Tesla Model S battery needs a 240v outlet. While you can plug an electric car into a household outlet, a higher-voltage outlet will reduce the charging time.
Other factors may affect the type of outlet needed for an electric car. Read on to find out more about electric car charging, the time it takes to charge fully, and the different types of outlets.
How Long Does an Electric Car Take to Charge?
There are several factors that determine how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle. They factor in whether you’re talking about fast-charging to get a little additional range or putting it on the charger overnight.
These factors include:
The Type of Electric Car
Each company has different tech in their batteries, and each model tends to have different battery pack sizes.
That means that the charging time can vary greatly, even among similar sized cars.
For example, a Chevy Volt will take about 12 hours to fully charge on a 120 volt plug, while a Tesla Model 3 can take between 7 hours and 29 hours, depending on how much power your home’s circuitry can handle.
EV Charging Amperage
Not only do the batteries in electric cars have limits to how much power they can accept, but the charging stations themselves have different power delivery capacity.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 will charge much slower when you plug it into a circuit with a 15 amp breaker than if you would plug it into a plug with a 60 amp breaker. To further complicate things, it’s got a maximum charge rate of 7.7Kw, so even if you plug it into a 60 amp circuit, it couldn’t take advantage of that extra power.
In simple terms:
- If your charging station can provide more power than your car can support, then your car will be the bottleneck.
- If your car can accept more power than your charging station can provide, then the charging station is the bottleneck.
Most manufacturers will list a theoretical charging time. However, to try to figure out your EV’s charging time, divide your car’s battery pack by the electric vehicle charging station’s output rate or a number lower than the vehicle’s acceptance rate. That gives you the number of hours required to charge an empty battery.
Usually this information is displayed when you plug your car into a charging station.
120V Outlets for Electric Car Chargers
The 120v outlet is the standard outlet in any US and Canadian home. It’s the same plug that you use for your cell phone chargers, TVs and microwaves.
More importantly, you can also plug in your electric car. This is sometimes called Level 1 charging in your carport or garage.
Charging stations for electric cars should be on their own dedicated circuit, however. If your charging outlet is connected to the same circuit as your laundry room or kitchen, you may draw extra amperage and trip a breaker.
Charging your electric car is as easy as charging your smartphone. Just plug in to your existing NEM5-15 receptacle or install a 5-15R/5-20R socket, plug in and you’re done!
If it’s not on its own dedicated circuit, we recommend calling an electrician. They can create a separate circuit for charging to ensure that you won’t overload your circuits when charging your EV.
Level 1 charging power output can be between 12-16amps of continuous power. That means that the charger can deliver between 3.5 and 6.5 miles of range per hour of charging.
That’s enough to get you around 40 miles of daily driving.
240V Outlets for Electric Car Chargers
The 240v charging system is called Level 2 charging and is much faster than charging through a 120v outlet. Some chargers allow you to plug in both 120v and 240v outlets (source).
Level 2 charging adds close to 60 miles of range to a car per hour of charging time, making it ideal for electric cars. They typically produce between 16-40 amps of power output. That translates into between 14-35 miles of electric range per hour of charging.
It’s worth noting that full electric cars require level 2 or 240v charging to get a full battery overnight.
How Much Does It Cost To Install a 240 Volt Outlet In a Garage?
Installing a level 2 charging system in a home with adequate electrical service is inexpensive. However, if your home requires a substantial electrical service upgrade, you may have to pay more for it.
The cost of installation ranges between $1,000-$2,000, depending on the electrician or the company you choose to work with. In some cases, you may be eligible for a 30% tax credit.
Level 2 EV chargers require running 240 volt from your breaker panel to the charging station. Normally this means installing a double-pole circuit breaker to two 120v outlets to double the circuit voltage. Occasionally you may need to replace the breaker box to have a compatible interface.
Given the technical nature of this job, It’s vital to work with an experienced and licensed electrical contractor who understands the local, state, and national regulations and codes. Be sure to check with your local building permit department and make sure that your contractor pulls any permits that you need.
Get up to a 6x faster charge with this Level 2 charger. Included app gives you instant access to your car's battery level, and let's you schedule charging times for when electricity is cheapest - saving you tons of money!
Level 3 Charging
For an extra boost, you can opt to install a Level 3 charging device. These high-output chargers add 90 miles of range to your electric vehicle in 30 minutes.
However, these chargers are expensive, and they may end up damaging your car’s battery due to their high voltage levels if used on a regular basis.
The other challenge is that you can’t also install them in your home. As of now, almost all of the level 3 charging is found in public charging stations.
Level 3 is also known as DC fast charging as it converts the AC current into DC current for storage in EV batteries. A good example of how fast this charging works is Tesla that can reach 80% in 30 minutes.
Most electric car owners should opt for a 240 volt, level 2 charging outlet for their garage. However, if you only use your electric car for short distances, you could make do with the normal 120 volt outlets found throughout your home.
Before re-wiring your garage, you need to figure out the distance you plan to drive in one day, the number of times the car will be in use on a single day, and the time you’ll have to charge the vehicle.
A 120v outlet is slower than the 240v outlet, but it can still charge your car overnight, although sometimes with lower range. However, the 240v outlet is more powerful and produces extra power output to charge your EV quickly.