EV Charging 101 – The Elephant Energy Guide to Charging Your Electric Vehicle with a Tesla Home Charger or Other EV Charging System
EVs are great, but they need to be charged.
Three Main Charging Rate Types
Level 1 (L1): Slowest rate. Simply plug into a standard wall outlet (120V). Takes 12-60 hours depending on how depleted your battery is – and on how large your battery is. This is done typically at home – I plug in my EV when I get home in the evening and it’s fully charged in the AM for work.
Level 2 (L2): Medium rate. This uses the same outlet as your Dryer (240V). That weird-looking 3 prong outlet. Takes ~6 hours for a full charge. This is typically done at home (you might need an upgrade to your outlets in your garage) or at work.
Level 3 (L3): Fastest rate. Public stations. Takes 30-60 minutes for a full charge and is done at the equivalent of a gas station for EVs. Some companies call these DC Fast Chargers while Tesla calls them Superchargers
Most people charge their EVs at home if they have a garage. If they don’t, they use workplace or public-L3 stations. There are increasingly more and more L3 stations around the country. We personally have a number of friends who have taken 1,000 mi+ road-trips with their EVs with no issues finding a charging station.
EV Charger Recommendations
If you need to buy an EV Charger, we can help you make the best choice for you and your home.
Level 1: probably comes with your car. If you need to buy one, we’d recommend buying a L2 charger. L1 Chargers only cost ~$200 less and therefore the L2 would be more useful. However, if you do want to buy a L1 charger, Clipper Creek makes a well reviewed one.
Level 2: There are a number of different chargers here: different price points, different brands, different features. We work closely with you to help you select the best Level 2 charger for you, your home, and your charging needs.
Level 3: There are a number of companies out there that have networks of charging stations (in many ways, it’s similar to pulling up to a BP or a Shell gas station). Charge Point, Electrify America, and EVgo are the largest. We like EVgo the best for both convenience and price.
Which Level 2 EV Charger should I install at my home?
A EV charger installed at home gives you an amazing superpower: a “full tank” every morning.
Some EV chargers can do even more than that. Tesla home charger from companies like Tesla, Chargepoint, JuiceBox, and WallBox are rapidly advancing and may include smart capabilities, such as:
- Charging speed
- Smart charging
- Optimized charging
- Balance charging multiple EVs
- Power your home
Charging Speed & Amperage
An EV charger fills your EV battery quickly by operating at higher voltage and amperage than is possible from a normal outlet. Instead of 8-12 amps from a normal outlet, an EV charger runs at 32 amps or more. Different EV chargers have different maximum speeds, measured in amperage.
For example, the Chargepoint Home Flex can operate at a range of 16 amps all the way up to 50 amps. Wallbox and Juicebox, plus the Tesla Wall Connector, also offer up to 48 amps.
Is it worth paying more for higher amperage?
Higher amperage typically means faster charging. For example, if you have an Audi Q4 e-Tron, it will take about 10 hours to go from 0% to 100% battery with a 32 amp charger. With 60 amps, this would be closer to 7 hours. Other EV’s will be roughly similar depending on battery size.
The slower charge might work fine – because if you plug in at 8pm, you might not care if your car is fully charged by 3am as long as it’s ready by 6am. And most days, you probably will only be partially refilling your battery – say from 60% to 100%.
However, as EV battery pack sizes increase, we want to make sure the Tesla home charger you choose for your home works not just this year for for years in the future. For this reason, we often recommend opting for higher amperage chargers when there is sufficient electrical service on your electrical panel to accommodate this.
Some utilities offer Time of Day or Time of Use billing. You’ll want to make sure you’re only charging at the low-priced hours. If not, you might end up paying as much for fuel as it’d cost to drive on gas – ugh!
Some EV chargers have WiFi connectivity and intelligence to both schedule your charging to fit cheaper times of day, and receive signals from utilities to further optimize your charging (with your permission). This ensures your EV charges at the lowest cost.
Juicebox offers some of the most sophisticated programs in this regard. The Chargepoint Home Flex and Wallbox Pulsar and Pulsar Plus also have smart charging options. Lower cost options like Amazon Basics and Clipper Creek typically don’t have smart charging.
In addition to charging at the cheapest times, you may want to charge your car with the cleanest electricity that comes from renewable sources.
If you have solar panels on your home, you may want to charge midday so you can power your car directly from the sunshine hitting your roof. Alternatively, you may want to charge when there is the greatest concentration of renewable energy on the main electricity grid.
JuiceBox has this feature for a slight add-on to the normal charger price. If you’re adding solar panels to your home, the unique Span smart electrical panel allows you to install the Span EV charger and optimize charge directly from your solar panels.
Balancing Charging For Multiple EVs
Before too long, you might run into a great problem to have – charging multiple EVs in one household. Some EV chargers, like the Wallbox Pulsar Plus automatically balance the charging to avoid issues.
Some new EV chargers can help solve this by modulating their charging in relation to what else is going on in the home. This way you never exceed the limits and cause anything to short out. We also can help you install separate load controllers if the EV charger you prefer doesn’t come with this capability.
For charging multiple EVs, Wallbox’s Pulsar Plus, JuiceBox chargers, and Tesla home charger excel. Chargepoint, Clipper Creek, and Amazon typically don’t come with this feature.
Power Your Home in a Blackout
A growing number of electric cars allow you to power equipment via an outlet or the charge port. With a “bi-directional” charger, and compatible vehicle, you’ll be able to power your home with your car!
An EV battery stores enough energy to power an average home over 3 full days. This means that a bidirectional charger can function as actual backup power and could save you the cost of a generator for your home (which can run thousands of dollars).
A few emerging EV chargers are available with this amazing feature. If you get the right charger and the right car that allows it, power outages could be a thing of the past.
While no Tesla home chargers are yet on the market with residential bi-directional charging capabilities, there are a few slated to come to market soon, including the Wallbox Quasar and the Dcbel R16.
Finding Charging Stations Away From Your Home
If you can’t charge your EV at home, here are three super useful tools for finding EV charging stations:
1. PlugShare has a map of EV chargers near you (we guarantee there are more than you think there are!) – as well as a vibrant community of users that provide useful information around accessibility, how to find them in a parking lot, etc.
2. Google Maps now has EV stations and a really nifty tool that will automatically route you to the nearest charging stations based on your route.
3. Your own vehicle! Many vehicles (especially Teslas) have onboard maps with the locations of dedicated and public stations. Some free, some pricey.
All these tools are super useful for navigating (literally!) how and where to charge your EV.
Ready to get started, contact Elephant Energy and we’ll help guide you through the decision on what EV Charger is right for you.
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