Electric cars are the way of the future. They’re eco-friendly and they require considerably less maintenance than their gas-guzzling counterparts. In many cases, plugging into a car charger is cheaper than lining up at the pump.

But just how inexpensive is it? What if you plan on charging up your car while you sleep?

The biggest questions that new electric vehicle owners have are often centered on the cost of charging, namely because there isn’t a simple answer. Unlike fueling up at a gas pump where the prices per gallon are displayed, the cost of charging up your car on a car charger isn’t quite so clear.

To find out how much you’re spending on charging up each night, you’ll need to take several factors into account.

What Are Electrical Car Chargers?

An electric car charger is the fuel source for electric vehicles (EVs). EV owners simply plug their car into the car charger. This charges the battery cells in the EV. All chargers are not created equal, however. Not only are there different levels of electric car chargers — but some manufacturers like Tesla have their own unique standards for chargers, too.

Finding the Right Car Chargers

In most cases, the car charger brand doesn’t matter. Find which one you like and call an electrician from SALT Light & Electric to install it. Most chargers are universal and designed for use in all EVs.

Don’t attempt to add a charging station on your own. It may not look difficult, but you don’t want a mishap with the wiring. If the station is incorrectly installed, it could damage the car charger, the car, and your home.

Car Charging Levels

One of the biggest misnomers in technology is “plug-and-play.” In this case, you have a plug and you should be able to plug it in and have everything work fine, but when it comes to EVs, there are some additional factors to consider.

Car chargers come in different levels: 1, 2, and 3. Level 1 chargers are given to EV owners when they purchase the car. This requires a standard 120V outlet, plugs in, and you’re finished.

Level 2 charging stations must be purchased. They require a 240V source, much like your dryer or oven. They will charge your vehicle 5-7 times faster than a Level 1 on a full-electric vehicle and up to 3 times faster on a hybrid.

Level 3 charging stations are called supercharging stations. They are only available at public locations.

Public Car Chargers

Public stations are necessary when you have a very long daily commute or when driving long distances for business or pleasure. Here is what to look for in public charging stations:

Charging Levels

Level 1, 2, and 3 charging stations exist. The faster the charge time, the more expensive the rate for charging. If possible, pass on Level 1 chargers. They are way too slow and often only provide 1kW of power. It can take your vehicle 20 to 43 hours to fully charge at these car charger stations

Level 2 chargers provide the best band for the buck. They induce 3 to 20 kW, usually 6, and can fully charge your EV in 5 to 11 hours.

If you’re in a hurry and are willing to pay more, then Level 3 stations are likely right for you. Filling up your EV at 50kW, they can have you charged and ready to go in 30 minutes to an hour.

Charging Connectors

Charging connectors come standard with the EV, but Level 2 and 3 charging stations may not work with your specific plug.

Level 1 and 2 charging stations work for most types of EVs. They require the J1772 connector. Tesla does not use this adaptor naturally, but their EVs have an adaptor so that they can take advantage of the Level 2 car charger stations.

Level 3 stations mainly use the SAE or CCS connector, but the Nissan Leaf uses a CHAdeMO connector. These are not interchangeable; however, some stations will have plugs for both types of connectors.

The last connector is Tesla specific. Their connector is only usable at Level 2 and 3 Supercharger Tesla charging stations.

Charging Your EV Nightly at Home

When you purchased your EV, there was a kW hour per 100 miles rating given. If you don’t remember it, then you can find the information in your owner’s manual. 

Determine how much you currently pay at home per kW hour. Most electric bills will have this broken down for you. Multiply the 100 miles rating by the cost per kW hour and that will give you the cost per 100 miles.

Many electric companies offer lower kW hourly rates during off-peak times, so charging the EV at night will likely cost less than if you were to charge it during peak hours.

There’s no doubt that EVs are cheaper than gas-powered vehicles. When you’re considering public, office, or home options, keep in mind that it will often be less expensive to charge your EV at home nightly.

Car Charger Specialists Near Me

At SALT Light & Electric, our team can help you to meet all of your car charger needs. We have a proven reputation in the community. Our team is prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable about all of our comprehensive electrical services. We install all types of car chargers and can provide electrical panel upgrades as needed to support your new EV, too. Call us today to find out how we can help you!