Car Charging Basics
Level 1 Charging
EX: Overnight Charging at Home
- Uses a standard outlet (the same type of outlet you charge your phone with!)
- No “charging station” needed! Take a few seconds to plug your car in each night. By the next morning you’re ready to go!
- Works best for plug-in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) with small batteries, and/or people who do not drive much each day.
- Adds a range of between 3 and 6 miles per hour of charging, or up to around 50 miles overnight.
Level 2 Charging
EX: Home, Workplace, Destination Charging
- Uses a round outlet called a NEMA 14-50 (like the outlet you’d plug an electric stove or clothes dryer into).
- Wired to an electrical panel or hard-wired to a wall-mounted EV charging station.
- Most common type of charging (private and public) and adds up to 70 miles of range per hour. Get a full charge overnight!
- Level 2 charging equipment can be purchased for as little as $200. The installation may only require minor work by an electrician or may require some upgrades to your panel or wiring.
Level 3 Charging
EX: Highway Rest Stop, Community Hub Charging
- Also known as public DC Fast Charging, Quick charging, and Supercharging.
- Level 3 adds hundreds of miles of range per hour of charging. Charge in around 30 minutes (or less with upcoming Level 3 stations!), or while you grab some lunch on a fun road-trip!
- Many new fast charging sites are being added every year.
Public Charging Equipment & Networks
Charging in public can be a positive experience with a little bit of research and preparation in advance. There are many brands and models of public charging units, as well many different charging networks both nationally and regionally. There are basically two types of stations:
Smart charging stations, also known as networked charging stations or connected stations. This typically require either membership, a card, or an app to access. They may or may not have a fee. The two most common EV charging network providers are Chargepoint and EVgo.
Non-networked charging stations do not require any membership to activate, and usually are free and just connect when you plug in, or may require an access code.
Finding out in advance (for example by using PlugShare or another online resource or app) can help you explore what public charging is near you and get any advance set up out of the way from the comfort of home.
Every EV comes with a charging adapter that connects to a standard home outlet (also known as Level 1 charging). This is typically used overnight while you sleep and adds up to 50 miles of range in 12 hours, more than most people drive on a typical day. For some drivers, this may be adequate, especially if the vehicle is not driven much daily or is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
Though not required, in order to get the most out of any plug-in car’s electric mileage benefits, it is typically recommended to purchase a Level 2 home charging station. This will recharge your EV two to six times faster than Level 1, and allow even ones with large batteries to always fully charge overnight.
The best time to get a Level 2 is just before receiving taking delivery of your vehicle, so the equipment can be already installed and ready for charging the moment you receive your electric car. ENE recommends choosing ENERGY STAR Certified Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). To find and compare products, visit the ENERGY STAR website.
Shop for Charging Stations
Find a Charging Station Installer
Charging Equipment Installation
How do I go about having a charger installed at my home?
If you don’t already have one, an electrician will need to wire a 240 volt circuit, including a 50-amp circuit breaker, from your house panel to a 240 volt NEMA 14-50 outlet or a hard-wired wall-mounted charging station in a location that is convenient for charging your car and the required length of cord. If the station needs to be hard-wired, the electrician will wire it in when they are wiring the 240 volt circuit from your house panel. Be sure to check with your local municipality about getting any required permit for installation.
The installation can range from only a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the location of the house panel and the location of the charging outlet.
The station will come with a cord and charger head that plugs into your EV, and since the unit by default is in a low power standby mode when not in use, so it is fine leave it always plugged in and connected to power (“on”).
We recommend using QMerit, a free service that will help you find certified installers near you that are experienced, licensed electricians and have been vetted and thoroughly background-checked to ensure you receive a great home installation experience.
Do I want it hard wired or to plug in to a new or existing 240-volt receptacle? What length of cord will I need to charge reach my car(s) from the install location?
The units can be ordered with different cord lengths to suit your needs.
Massachusetts also requires that you get a permit. You may need to go to the town’s building division at town hall, fill out a form, etc. Contact us to find out more information about the completing the process where you live.