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Electric Car Charging Basics

Get Past EV Range Anxiety

Range anxiety – the fear of running out of charge – is one of the main concerns voiced by many who still drive combustion engine vehicles but are considering an EV as their next vehicle.

Charging an electric vehicle is not as complicated as you may think, and the options for charging at home and on the road are quickly making range anxiety a thing of the past.

Charging While at Home

Let’s start with charging at home. Speak to an electric vehicle owner who does 75% of their charging at home and has almost never run out of a charge and you’ll hear firsthand the benefits of charging at home: it is a wonderful convenience for those who own a single-family home, with options for “Level 1” and “Level 2” charging to choose from.

Level 1 charging involves using a common plug at home. Usually, you won’t have to make modifications to your home. Most electric vehicles come with a 120-volt AC charger that plugs into a common household electrical outlet and provides 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. If you don’t drive more than 35 miles per day or are home for extended periods of time, this type of charging could work for you.

So how much does it cost?

Your only cost is the electricity used to charge the vehicle, which is measured in units known as kilowatt hours (kWh). According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the national average price for electricity is 12.6 cents/kWh and an electric vehicle typically uses around 30 kWh to travel 100 miles. Average electricity costs for each state are updated monthly and can be found here.

Powering Up

Level 2 involves a 240-volt unit that is typically wall mounted, requires a dedicated electrical circuit and either plugs into a suitable outlet or is hard wired to the home. These are the most common type of home charging and provide 10–35 miles of range per hour of charging.

So how much does it cost?

In addition to the cost of electricity to charge the vehicle, you’ll incur a $400 to $800 installation cost for the fixed charging unit. This installation can cost more if a home’s electrical service needs to be upgraded to support the additional load of a 240-volt Level 2 AC charger. A qualified electrical contractor with experience in home charging installation can help assess the full cost of a Level 2 home system. Many power companies offer rebates for energy star compliant charger installations. Check your power company website to see if you qualify.

What if I live in a condo or apartment complex? If you live in an apartment, condo or other multifamily structure, you will need to talk to the person or company that manages your property. Many properties are working with charging providers and power companies to install charging units in multi-unit residential locations. Check with your condo association or apartment management to understand the options and future plans for charging services.

Charging While Out and About

As of March 2022, there are more than 50,000 public and private charging stations in the U.S. that offer a mix of Level 1, 2 and DC Fast Charging (Level 3). There are many different smartphone apps you can use to find charging locations on the go.

So how much does it cost? U.S. gas stations charge for fuel by the gallon, while public electric vehicle charging stations use a variety of pricing methods. Electric vehicle charging is often billed at per-minute or per-hour rates that may be tiered based on how much power you use. Some also opt to charge a fixed price for a charging session that lasts a specific length of time and it does not matter how much power you consume.

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, the total number of public charging ports in the U.S. has been steadily growing. We have a long way to go to support the projected charging needs in 2030 and beyond, but the number of publicly available charging locations continues to grow at an accelerating pace, and there are more charging options than ever to help alleviate the concerns of range anxiety for prospective EV owners.

–Written by Liz Najman, Recurrent

AAA Washington Insurance Agency is here to help. If you are looking to review your car insurance or simply have questions, call (877) 222-4678 for a free, no-obligation consultation. You also can find an agent near you, or request a quote online.

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