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Charging Your Plug-in Electric Car

Man charging electric vehicle

Whether you have an all-electric car or a plug-in hybrid, you have several options for charging your vehicle. Many owners will do the majority of their charging at home. Some workplaces, businesses, and multi-unit dwellings (condos/apartments) provide charging, and there are over 43,000 public charging stations located across the country.

Three types of charging are available to plug-in vehicle owners, as shown in the table below.

Charging Options
Level 1
(120 V)
Level 2
(240/208 V)
Fast Charging
(480+ V)
Charging Speed
5 mi of range per hr 25 mi of range per hr* 100 to 200+ mi of range per 30 min
Charge Port (to vehicle)
J1772

J1772

J1772

J1772

J1772

J1772

CHAdeMO

CHAdeMO

Tesla Combo

Tesla Combo

Additional Information
  • Slowest type of charging
  • Convenient and requires no special charger or outlet type
  • You can plug into a regular 120 Volt outlet
  • Most plug-in vehicles come equipped with a cord for this type of charging
  • Available for home installation
  • Most public chargers are Level 2
  • Most public chargers compatible with all vehicles
  • Tesla stations use different port type
  • Tesla vehicles equipped with an adaptor for use with standard Level 2 port
  • Also called DC fast charging & DC quick charging
  • Fastest charging type
  • Usually located along heavy traffic corridors
  • Not practical for home installation
  • Not all vehicles can accept fast charging
  • Different vehicles use different ports

* This Level 2 charging speed value is an average. Level 2 charging speed varies significantly among vehicles and can range from just a few miles of range per hour of charging to around 40 miles per hour.

Note: Charge rate can vary based on vehicle model for all charging types. So, check the owner's manual for estimated charge time. Charge rate also depends on other factors, such as the battery's state of charge and the ambient temperature. Visit AFDC's Developing Infrastructure to Charge Plug-In Electric Vehicles for more information about vehicle charging options.

Common Questions

How much will charging at home add to my electricity bill?

This depends on your electricity cost, your car's fuel efficiency, and the number of miles you drive on electricity in a month. For example, if you drive an EV that gets 97 MPGe (35 kWh/100 mi) 12,000 miles a year, electricity costs $0.13/kWh, and you only charge at home, it would add $45.50 to your monthly electric bill.

How do I find public chargers?

Many vehicles have built-in displays that show the nearest charging stations and/or smart phone apps that show you where chargers are located. Aside from vehicle manufacturer and the charging network apps, the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center has a station locator (web-based desktop version, mobile version, Apple iPhone & iPod version).

How much does public charging cost?

Some public chargers are free. Others charge either a flat fee per charge, a monthly subscription, by the amount of electricity you use, or by how long you use the charger. Charging rates can vary by region and network, and the rates change as public charging develops and different pricing strategies are tested.

How do you pay for public charging?

Most networks, such as Blink or ChargePoint, have memberships that allow members to use cards or mobile apps to activate the chargers. However, even if you don't have a membership, most allow guest charging, though it might be at a higher rate.

How will I know if my car has finished charging?

Most vehicles have an option to send you a text or email message once charging is complete. Public charging networks can also send you a text or email message once charging is complete if you have a membership.

Should I move my car from a public charging station once it is charged?

Yes. Leaving a fully charged vehicle plugged in at a charger can be very frustrating for others who may need to use it. To prevent long term parking at chargers, some public charging stations will charge by the time that the vehicle is plugged in rather than by the electricity consumed.

How much does it cost to install a Level 2 charger at home?

Home charger units generally cost between about $400 and $1,000. Installation costs depend on the electrician, the complexity of the installation, and any permits or other fees that are required. Incentives may be available in your state or local area that offset some of the cost.

Is it worth the extra cost to install a Level 2 charger at home?

It depends on a number of factors, so you'll need to decide if it's economical for you. If you have a plug-in hybrid that has a small battery pack and/or you drive a limited number of miles on electricity each day, Level 1 charging may meet your needs. However, if your vehicle has a large battery pack and you drive 50 or more miles a day on electricity, a Level 2 charger may be worth the investment.

Is it safe to charge my vehicle in the rain?

Yes. Vehicles and charging stations are designed to prevent electrical shock, even during rainy conditions.

More Information

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations

Developing Infrastructure to Charge Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Charging Plug-In Electric Vehicles at Home

Electric Vehicle Charging for Multi-Unit Dwellings

Charging Plug-In Electric Vehicles in Public

Blink Frequently Asked Questions

ChargePoint EV Driver Support: EV Driver FAQ

The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks by plugincars.com

This website is administered by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. DOE and the U.S. EPA.