Electric vehicle made by Tesla parked on the side of a road with a field in the background

Home EV Charging vs. Public EV Charging

The electric vehicle (EV) industry is expanding rapidly beyond passenger cars. Learn more about EV charging in public and at home. 

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

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

Types of EVs

EVs 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 as well as at public charging stations. 

And as people begin to use EVs more and more, we’re starting to see new and improved charging stations nationwide. EV charging stations are now growing in availability at businesses for employees, near retail establishments for customers, in parking garages and along highway systems.

Types of EV Charging Stations

Level 1

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

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

Level 2

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

About one hour of Level 2 charging gets you 10 to 20 miles of range. In 2020, over 80% of public charging stations offered Level 2 chargers

Level 3 

Level 3 charging, also known as DC fast charging (DCFC), is much less common and available only at commercial locations and public charging stations (i.e., nonresidential). But it’s a significantly faster way to charge your EV. Using a Level 3 charger brings an EV battery up to 80% in 30 to 60 minutes. So, 20 minutes of charging gives you from 60 to 80 miles of range. 

Over 15% of EV charging stations offered Level 3 charging ports in 2020, and that percentage is expected to grow. You can find Level 3 charging along heavy traffic corridors.

Charging an EV at Home

You can choose between Level 1 and Level 2 chargers for your home charging needs. You can’t install Level 3 chargers at your home because they’re available only for nonresidential, commercial and public use. 

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

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

Public Level 1 Charging Cost

Level 1 and Level 2 chargers cost roughly the same at $0.30 to $0.60 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). But if a station charges you on a per-minute basis, you’ll pay more with a Level 1 charger because 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 the public, but most public locations charge a fee. The cost depends on the state you’re in and the charging provider you choose. Some states will charge you on a per-minute basis, but others look at the kWh of electricity you use while charging. 

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

Level 3 Charging Cost

Level 3 is the fastest way to charge an EV — but 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, but they’re restricted to only Tesla vehicles. Rates are mandated per state, but you can 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 increasingly widespread and easy to access as EVs grow in popularity. 

Utility companies in some 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 can’t install chargers at home. 

General Motors (GM) also invested heavily in EV charging infrastructure, with a commitment of $750 million as part of its 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 nationwide installments.

Contact Freedom Solar to Connect Your EV Charger With Solar

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

Looking to maintain, repair or upgrade your solar system? Our solar repair and maintenance service department can help you obtain maximum energy production and efficiency.

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

Featured image via Unsplash