Keep Your EV Charged and Maintained
Congratulations! After much research you made the leap to electric. You’ve purchased a new electric vehicle (EV) and it’s time to have some fun.
As a recent EV purchaser, you likely have a new set of questions on your mind: Do I need a home charger? What kind of maintenance does/doesn’t my vehicle need? How often do I need to take it in for service? What charging app do I need? All great questions, let’s break it down.
While you don’t “need” a home charger, most EV owners prefer one for the convenience. Your lifestyle and driving habits are the main factors as to whether you’ll want to invest the money to add an AC Level-2 charger at home.
You can use a standard, grounded 120 volt plug, which will deliver AC Level-1 charge that adds 2-5 miles of range per hour. Charging overnight for 10 hours will get you around 35 miles of range, plus you can charge while out and about. Many stores and workplaces have AC Level-2 or DC fast charging stations. If you work from home and near where you run most of your errands, or live close to work, this might be a good option.
The convenience of an overnight charge using AC Level-2 equipment usually entices most EV owners to install a charger inside their garage or outside the home. Level-2 charging at 240 volts will add 10-25 miles of range per hour, giving you a “full tank” every morning for most models. This approach to charging usually covers most people’s daily driving range needs. A consultation with a professional electrician can get you started.
Washington has the largest hydroelectric system in the world, providing customers low-cost, renewable energy. This is great news for EV owners who benefit from some of the lowest rates in the country. Contact your local utility service for more information about home charging: Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power, PUD Association, Avista and others.
As with your gas-powered vehicle, your owner’s manual is your go-to resource for all things maintenance on your EV. One of the best features about owning an EV is less maintenance as fewer parts break or wear out. EVs still require basic maintenance, however. While oil changes are in your rear-view mirror, within the first 100,000 miles you’ll want to:
- Make sure your tires are always properly inflated and rotated every 7,500 miles.
- Every six to nine months, especially in the Pacific Northwest, change your windshield wipers.
- Change the cabin air filters every two years/22,500 miles.
- Replace the brake fluid every five years.
- Keep up with the “required services,” which consist mostly of various kinds of inspections — brakes system, power steering, and suspension and chassis components.
While you don’t have to completely break up with your favorite mechanic, you will want to make sure they can service your electric vehicle.
Whether you’re on a road trip or out and about, knowing where to find a charging station and what kind of service they provide is key. Most public charging stations have connections to fit any electric vehicle model, unless you drive a Tesla, which has its own exclusive Tesla Supercharger network. There is an adapter available to Tesla owners to use non-Tesla stations.
There are many resources for EV owners looking for a charging station, so what is the best approach? The first step is to plan ahead, especially if you’re on a road trip. You might not have connectivity when you need to access your EV app, so do your homework ahead of time. Most mapping programs (Google and Apple maps) now have EV charging stations listed. This is convenient, but might not provide you all of the information you need.
Apps are going to offer additional information, such as availability status, a review of any issues, cost, type of plugs and more. Here are the three types of apps that you’ll want to research:
- The most popular and efficient way to find a charging station is to use an app that allows you to perform filtered searches across multiple major charging networks, such as PlugShare and ChargeHub.
- Some manufacturers offer their own branded apps or in-vehicle solutions that conveniently pre-filter your search for your specific vehicle.
- Individual charging networks (EVgo, ChargePoint, Electrify America, Volta and others) provide current usage and location of their stations on their apps. If you have a preferred charging company, this is the way to go.
Did You Know: It’s better for the environment and electrical grid if you charge your vehicle in the middle of the day or overnight when the total demand for electricity is at its lowest?
–Written by Jennifer Cook
–Top photo by Sofiko14/AdobeStock