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A simple guide to electric car home charging

So you’ve got an electric car and it needs to be recharged. Some people might be tempted to plug a new ride into a wall socket like any old appliance and be done with it, but a home charging station is vital.

Charging at home means not having to rely on the spotty public charging-station network, and a dedicated home device will be able to get the job done much faster than a standard household outlet.

Buying one is fairly straightforward, too. Here’s everything you need to know about home charging.

First, it helps to know exactly what you’re buying. It seems logical to refer to the thing you use to charge your car as a “charger,” but that’s not accurate. The charger is actually the device built into the car itself that converts household AC current into DC and allows it to flow into the battery.

What you’re actually installing is a “charging station” or, to use proper industry lingo, a piece of Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). That’s how manufacturers, suppliers, and other electric-car drivers refer to these devices.

In addition, electric car charging is generally classified in one of three levels:
Level 1 (120V)

This is a standard household power outlet, the kind you’d plug any ordinary electrical appliance into. Of course, you can plug your electric car directly into one as well, but charging will take much longer than it would with a dedicated charging station – usually more than 15 hours.
Level 2 (220-240V)

This is typical for home charging stations and the majority of public charging stations as well. A Level 2 installation requires a dedicated device and wiring, but it will charge your car much faster.

For example, a 2014 Nissan LEAF – the world’s most-popular electric car – takes 21 hours to charge from a Level 1 source when equipped with the 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger. With a Level 2 source, a full recharge takes just 5 hours. It’s a no-brainer.
Level 3 (DC fast charging)

The highest level is probably a little extreme for home use, with stations costing tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s proliferating among public charging stations. “Fast charging” uses DC rather than household AC to cut charging times further. These stations usually require a dedicated connector as well, such as the CHAdeMO, CCS, or Tesla Motors’ Supercharger.


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