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Home EV Charging vs. Public EV Charging

The electric vehicle (EV) industry is booming beyond the passenger car market. Public transit buses, trucks of various shapes and sizes including long-haul semis, and even large-tractor trailers are utilizing electricity to power up. 

Here’s a look at the current and expected reality of charging an EV at public stations on the road as well as at home. 

Types of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles fall into three main categories:

  • Battery EVs: Battery EVs run on electricity stored in a large battery pack that replaces the vehicle’s internal combustion engine.
  • Fuel cell vehicles: Fuel cell vehicles produce electricity by splitting the electrons in hydrogen molecules for the motor to run.
  • Plug-in hybrids: Plug-in hybrids combine a diesel or gasoline engine with a rechargeable battery and electric motor. 

One advantage of driving an EV is that you can charge it at home in addition to public roadside charging stations. 

And as EVs become more broadly used, we’re starting to see new and improved charging stations across the nation. EV charging stations are now growing in availability at businesses for employees, retail establishments for customers, parking garages, and along highway systems.

Types of EV Charging Equipment Stations

Level 1

Level 1 charging stations use AC plugs and are the slowest charging option. Eight hours of charging will give you about 40 miles of range. In other terms, one hour of charging will give you two to five miles of range. 

Level 1 chargers are typically used when there’s only a 120 volt outlet available, so they’re the most common option for charging your EV at home. They’re useful for homeowners since you can leave your EV in your garage overnight and let it charge unattended. Less than 5% of EV charging stations in the U.S. provide Level 1 ports since users would need unreasonably long amounts of time to charge their EVs in public.

Level 2

Level 2 is the most common type of EV charger. You’ll find unit installments spread out among large urban cities in public parking garages, car dealerships, retail parking lots, and college campuses. They’re also useful and quite popular for those charging from home, requiring a 220-volt electric supply, which most houses have for clothes dryers or electric range. If you don’t have a 220-volt outlet at your home, you’ll need to add a circuit and wiring that runs to your Level 2 charger.

About one hour of Level 2 charging will get you 10 to 20 miles of range. As of 2020, over 80% of public charging stations offer Level 2 chargers

Level 3 

Level 3 charging, also known as DC fast charging (DCFC), is much less common and only available at commercial locations and public charging stations (i.e. non-residential). But it’s a significantly faster way to charge your EV. Using a Level 3 charger will bring your EV battery up to 80% in 30 to 60 minutes. In other words, 20 minutes of charging will give you between 60 to 80 miles of range. 

Over 15% of EV charging stations offer Level 3 charging ports as of 2020, and these numbers are expected to grow. Level 3 charging is commonly found along heavy traffic corridors.

Charging an EV at Home

You have the freedom to choose between Level 1 and Level 2 chargers for your home charging needs. Level 3 chargers can’t be installed at your home since they are only used for non-residential, commercial and public use. 

In any case, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $6,000 for an EV charger including installation costs. You can connect your charger to your home electricity, which sources energy from the grid. Or if you’re looking to rely on clean energy and gain more energy independence, you can connect your charger to a solar panel system or a backup power battery.  

[Related: Solar Panels and EV Stations: The Prevalence of Solar-Powered EV Charging Stations]

Is It Cheaper to Charge an EV on the Road or at Home?

Home Cost

Charging your EV at home is cost-effective if it’s connected to your solar power system. Your car’s power can come from renewable solar energy, which is an environmentally responsible choice. However, most EV owners with chargers at home are connected to the existing utility power grid. 

Public Level 1 Charging Cost

Level 1 and Level 2 chargers cost roughly the same amount at $0.30 to $0.60 kilowatt-hour (kWh). However, if the station prices you on a per-minute basis, you’ll pay more with a Level 1 charger since it takes much longer to gain a full charge. 

Public Level 2 Charging Cost

Some businesses and institutions provide free access to Level 2 chargers for their employees or for the public, but most public locations will charge a fee. The cost is dependent on the state you’re in as well as the charging provider you choose. Some states will price you on a per-minute basis, while others look at the kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you use while charging. 

A charging station is of course on a property, and some manufacturers (such as ChargePoint or Electrify America) allow the property owner to control rates. Blink, on the other hand, charges between $0.39 and $0.79 per kWh, or $0.04 and $0.06 per minute as long as the state permits it. 

Level 3 Charging Cost

Level 3 is the fastest way to charge your EV. However, it’ll cost you the most money. EVgo, the nation’s largest charging station manufacturer in large metro areas, charges $0.25 per minute for Level 3. 

Tesla has its own network of Superchargers across the nation, although they’re restricted to only Tesla vehicles. Rates are mandated per state but you can typically expect to pay $0.28 per minute on average. 

With any public charging option, you can pay as you go with a credit card or create an account with the charging station manufacturer.

Infrastructure Investments for EV Charging Stations

EV charging stations are becoming more widespread and easy to access as electric vehicles grow in popularity. 

Utility companies throughout certain states are making large investments to build charging infrastructure for EVs, trucks, and buses. For example, California invested more than $1 billion in EV charging infrastructure for those who want to use clean energy but are unable to install chargers at home. 

General Motors (GM) also invested heavily in EV charging infrastructure with a commitment of $750 million as part of their dealer community charging program. As a result, the U.S. and Canada will see around 40,000 new EV charging stations. 

Additionally, the Biden administration is funding 500,000 new EV chargers for installments across the nation.

Contact Freedom Solar to Connect Your EV Charger With Solar

Electric vehicles have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline-powered cars, no matter where your electricity comes from. Freedom Solar can help you move toward an even greener and cleaner way of driving. 

Contact us today to begin sourcing your EV charging power from solar energy with our SunPower solar panels. Call +1 (800) 504-2337 or complete our online inquiry form to begin your free consultation. 

Featured image via Unsplash

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