How to conveniently (and cost-effectively) charge your electric vehicle.
If you’re planning to purchase an electric vehicle (EV), you may be considering how and where you’ll charge the car’s battery. If you already own an EV, you may be wondering if there’s a better way to charge it than what you’re doing now.
Charging an EV costs less than paying for gas, but it’s not free. You can drive to a nearby public charging station but installing a home charger may be more efficient and less expensive. Here’s what you need to know so you can choose the best EV charging option for you — from set up to charging time to cost.
An overview of EV chargers
EV charging essentially has three methods, sometimes called levels:
Nearly every EV comes equipped with a level 1 charger, making it the least expensive option. No installation costs or set up are required. To charge, simply plug one end of the charging cord into your EV and the other end into any nearby standard 120-volt household electrical outlet.
While easy and inexpensive, it’s also the least efficient option. Level 1 chargers can take 40 or more hours to charge an EV battery from empty, making this charging option best for short trips, or under 40 miles each day.1 If you need to replace your level 1 charger, the average cost is around $300.2
Level 2 chargers can be installed in any home with an available 240-volt outlet — similar to what’s used for large appliances, like your dryer — and it can also be hardwired into your home’s electrical panel. The increased power means level 2 chargers are faster than level 1, typically charging an EV battery from empty in about four to ten hours.1
Unlike level 1, level 2 chargers require additional equipment that must be professionally installed. Equipment costs can average around $600, with installation bringing the cost to around $1,500.2 Costs may be higher with a circuit panel upgrade. A qualified electrician can confirm whether you’ll need to upgrade your existing electrical panel.
Level 2 chargers tend to be the most popular and efficient home-charging options. They’re also the most common type of public chargers, typically found in places like store, office, and hotel parking lots. For best performance, consider purchasing the level 2 home charger recommended by the EV manufacturer.
Sometimes referred to as direct current or DC, level 3 EV chargers are the most powerful, although they’re typically not available for residential use. Level 3 chargers are found at commercial charging stations, often near interstates, making them a convenient option for EV drivers looking for a place to charge quickly and continue driving. Level 3 chargers can typically charge to 80 percent in under an hour.1
EV home charging: Other factors to consider
EV home chargers can be purchased through the automaker or a third-party company. No matter which option you decide to go with, keep in mind that EV charging costs and speed can be affected by several factors. These include battery size, car model, where you live, how close to an outlet you park your car, and how many EVs your household owns. You can get an idea of what you’ll pay in electricity costs to keep your EV running at fueleconomy.gov.
Here are some more things to keep in mind as you consider the best EV charging option for your needs:
If you live in an apartment or condo, or if you rely on street parking, you may have limited access to electricity required to charge your EV.
You must ensure that your household’s electrical system can handle an EV charging station.
In general, the lower the voltage, the longer it will take for the EV to charge.
You should consider home charger features that are important to you, like hardwire versus plug in, size, length of cable, weatherproofing, even if it’s Wi-Fi enabled.
While EV charging is less expensive than fuel fill ups, consider how your monthly electric bill may increase. Ask your utility company if they offer EV charging rate plans or if you can save money by charging during off-peak hours. Homes with solar power may see less of an effect on their electric bill.
Consider how far you drive each day, how important convenience and charge speed are to you, and how many public chargers are nearby. If you’re in St. Louis or Kansas City, you may even be able to charge your EV at a Commerce Bank branch!
Take advantage of financial incentives for EV owners
Tax credits could make purchasing and charging your EV more affordable. Some states also offer additional incentives, tax credits and rebates for residential EV chargers. Learn more about available EV incentives near you.
Even with some upfront costs, an at-home charging station can make it easier and more convenient to keep your EV powered up. And if you’re considering an EV purchase, Commerce Bank offers financing solutions for new and used cars to help you get behind the wheel faster.
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- “Electric Vehicle Charging Speeds,” U.S. Department of Transportation, updated Feb. 2, 2022, https://www.transportation.gov/rural/ev/toolkit/ev-basics/charging-speeds
- “How much does it cost to install an electric vehicle charging station at home?” fixr.com, updated Nov. 30, 2022, https://www.fixr.com/costs/home-electric-vehicle-charging-station