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USA: How to charge your electric car from 120 volt power outlets

With careful preparation you can charge an electric car at full speed from 120 volt electrical outlets, making use of ubiquitous the electricity supply, but only if done correctly.

What if the state of charge on your electric car is running low, and the Recargo or Plug Share app’s do not show a nearby charging station? Are you out of luck and your only choice is to call a tow company and paying a large towing fee? Electricity is everywhere, but the powers-that-be decided electric cars must be charged through plugs designed for that purpose. The U.S. the ubiquitous outlet offers 120 volts through a plug that’s not certified for electric cars, and in any case the low charge rate (1-1.5 kilowatts) on 120 volt outlets means an ultra-long recharge time. Some DIY types are taking matters into their own hands and developing adapters to recharge electric cars, at reasonable speed, through any 120 volt power outlet. But some care must be taken to do this successfully.

The first item to understand is the EVSE, which means Electric Vehicle Service Equipment. The EVSE is the technical name for the “charging station” and is the approved method for charging an electric car. It includes a number of safety features, such as an interlock preventing the car from driving if it is plugged into an EVSE. Obviously a “drive off” from a charging station could be dangerous, and expensive. You’ll notice that electric cars do not have a normal power outlet, but instead have a J1772 charging port.


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