Welcome to EVGAS101: EV Charging Basics ​

Welcome to EVGAS101: EV Charging Basics

Electric vehicles have piqued your interest. Maybe you already own one, or maybe you’re just starting your EV research. Either way, you’ve come to the right place. On this page, you’ll find answers to all your pressing EV questions.

Whether you’re an EV expert or novice, you’re sure to learn something new here. Feel free to scroll at your own pace and let your curiosity guide you. Our goal is to make EV ownership as smooth and satisfying as possible by equipping you with the knowledge you need. So charge up that brain and let’s get rolling!

What is an Electric Vehicle

There are actually three types of electric vehicles. BEVs run solely on electricity, HEVs use both gas and electric power but don’t plug in, and PHEVs can drive electrically for short ranges before switching to gas-electric hybrid mode. All three types utilize electric motors powered by batteries.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) offer a gasoline-free driving experience. A BEV runs entirely on electricity stored in its battery pack, powering an electric motor to turn the wheels. With zero emissions and silent operation, BEVs provide a clean and quiet ride.

The driving range on a single charge varies across BEV models and years, but most can travel 75 to 402 miles before needing a recharge. Impressively, ranges are rapidly improving with advances in battery technology. For example, the latest 2022 Tesla Model 3 boasts an EPA range of 358 miles.

Well-known BEVs include the Tesla Model 3 sedan, Chevrolet Bolt hatchback, and Nissan LEAF crossover. Each has unique charge ports for connecting the charging cable. We’ll cover charge ports more later. The key takeaway is that BEVs refuel using electricity, not liquid fuel. No more trips to the gas station!

For drivers seeking a gas-electric combo, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) bridge the gap. PHEVs contain both a gasoline engine and battery-powered electric motor. This allows you to drive on electricity alone for shorter trips before the gas engine takes over.

With the average U.S. commute being around 15 miles, PHEVs can potentially eliminate gas station runs for daily driving. They offer 10-40 miles of electric range from a full charge, covering most commutes emission-free. Once the battery depletes, the vehicle operates like a regular hybrid using its gasoline engine.

Well-known PHEV models include the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, and Kia Optima PHEV. Unlike regular hybrids, you can plug in and charge a PHEV’s battery at home or public stations. Some accept DC fast charging for rapid refills on the go.

For suburban drivers who aren’t ready to go fully electric, PHEVs provide the best of both worlds. You can enjoy silent, zero-emission commutes while retaining the convenience of gas for longer trips. And by maximizing electric miles, PHEVs allow you to spend less on gasoline while reducing your carbon footprint.

HEVs differ from plug-in hybrids in one key way – they cannot be plugged in to recharge. The battery charges from braking and the gasoline engine only. So while they consume less gas, HEVs cannot refuel at public charging stations like EVs can.

For many drivers, HEVs strike the ideal balance between eco-friendliness and convenience. They ease the transition to electrification while saving money on fuel and reducing environmental impact. What do you think – could a hybrid model be right for you?

EV Charging is Different from Filling Up Your Car

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The Process

Charging an electric vehicle (EV) may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple. Much like keeping your phone charged, there are many convenient options for powering up your EV’s battery.

You can plug in at home overnight while you sleep, just as you would your phone. Many EV owners install a home charger in their garage so they can wake up to a full “tank” every morning.

Public charging stations allow you to top up your battery while running errands, similar to using a portable charger for your phone while you’re out and about. Charging networks like Electrify America have stations at malls, grocery stores, and other popular destinations.

For longer trips, DC fast chargers along major highways let you add hundreds of miles of range in less than an hour. This is like having a rapid charger for your phone when you need a quick boost before a flight.

Time

 

Charging an electric vehicle does take more time than gassing up a
traditional car, but rapid advances are shrinking that difference. In
the early days of EVs, drivers had limited options, usually charging at
home or work over several hours. But the charging landscape has evolved
dramatically. Now, thousands of fast chargers are being installed
nationwide, giving EV owners the freedom to charge up while they go
about their day.

A quick stop at a fast charging station as you run errands or grab a
coffee can add hundreds of miles of range in just 15-45 minutes. It’s
not quite as fast as filling up a gas tank yet, but it eliminates the
need to schedule your life around charging sessions.

The versatility of charging options – from home chargers to ultra-fast highway stations – means EV driving can fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. While a full charge still takes more time than five minutes at the pump, smart charging habits and an ever-expanding fast charging network are closing that gap more each year.

 

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DC Fast Charging on EV

EVs are environment-friendly

Both plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are far more efficient than gas-only models, producing fewer emissions even when relying on some gasoline. And contrary to common belief, studies show electric vehicles have a lower overall environmental impact than gas cars in most regions. As more renewable energy comes online, EVs will get even cleaner over time.

The power grid mix varies regionally, but EV emissions are lower across the board. With solar, wind, and other renewables expanding rapidly, EVs stand to become even more eco-friendly. Companies like EVgo are also leading the charge, providing 100% renewable energy at charging stations nationwide.

Price

Charging an electric vehicle is cheaper than gassing up – typically about 35% less per mile. While gasoline prices fluctuate based on oil prices, taxes, and demand, electricity prices depend largely on grid demand.

During peak hours when electricity use surges, rates can spike. But the steady growth of EVs and charging networks is driving new innovations to make charging faster, smarter, and more affordable.

For most drivers, going electric saves money in the long run. According to the US Department of Energy’s calculator, EV owners can expect to save thousands on fuel costs over the lifetime of their vehicle compared to a gas-powered model.

As the technologies continue advancing hand-in-hand, expect charging costs to become even more competitive. With fewer mechanical parts to maintain, lower operational costs are another big perk of ditching gasoline for electrons. The economics of EVs just make sense for savvy drivers looking to save money at the pump.

How far can an electric car go on one charge

4 Types of Connectors

There are actually three types of electric vehicles. BEVs run solely on electricity, HEVs use both gas and electric power but don’t plug in, and PHEVs can drive electrically for short ranges before switching to gas-electric hybrid mode. All three types utilize electric motors powered by batteries.

CHAdeMO, which stands for “Charge de Move”, was designed by a group of Japanese automakers and industry organizations. How cool is that name? It sounds fast and high-tech, doesn’t it?

Well, CHAdeMO is a quick charging standard that allows compatible electric vehicles to charge up rapidly at public charging stations. Handy indeed!

Now, which automakers actually use CHAdeMO? Primarily Japanese brands like Nissan and Mitsubishi. For example, the popular Nissan Leaf electric hatchback supports CHAdeMO fast charging. Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid can also use CHAdeMO chargers to juice up its battery quicker.

The CCS connector was designed as an “open industry standard” for electric vehicle charging. While automakers worldwide use CCS, it’s most commonly associated with North American and European brands.

For example, in North America, newly made passenger EVs from GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and other manufacturers (except Tesla) are equipped with CCS connectors. This allows them to plug into the many CCS fast charging stations proliferating across the United States and Canada.

In Europe, automakers like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Porsche have embraced CCS for their electric models. So if you’re driving a brand new EV from one of those manufacturers, look for a CCS fast charging station when you need to quickly recharge your battery.

The Combined Charging System aims to become the global standard for DC fast charging. By adopting a common connector, automakers large and small can provide customers with wider, more convenient access to high-powered charging infrastructure. CCS helps enable the exciting EV future!

Tesla connectors, as you may have guessed, are found exclusively on Tesla electric vehicles. When Tesla first launched their EVs with fast charging capability, they designed their own unique connector.

EVgo has the distinction of being the first public fast charging network to natively support Tesla vehicles. So Tesla drivers can plug directly into EVgo chargers without needing an adapter – how convenient!

Other networks require Tesla owners to use adapters to charge their vehicles. Tesla does provide some adapters to their customers, like a J1772 adapter for Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging. They also sell a CHAdeMO to Tesla adapter separately for DC fast charging purposes.

But it’s so much easier when EV drivers don’t have to fuss with bringing extra equipment to charge up. EVgo’s Tesla compatibility demonstrates their commitment to providing an inclusive, seamless charging experience for all electric vehicles. Though Tesla’s connector is proprietary, EVgo makes sure no Tesla driver is left behind!

This connector is used for “Level 1” and “Level 2” AC charging. Level 1 and Level 2 charging are considerably slower than DC Fast Charging, and are primarily meant for charging over a few hours (like at home or at work). The SAE J1772 connector (also known as “J Plug”) is used by all EVs except Tesla for AC charging (Tesla vehicles come with an adapter to use this connector).

EV Adapters

electric car charging stations

Networking your stations with EVGas allows you to literally get on the map. EV Drivers will be able to search your locations, find information on your stations and check reviews and pricing right from Google, Apple Plugshare or other Maps.

How Long Does It Take to Charge Your Electric Vehicle?

Many non-EV drivers assume charging an electric vehicle is extremely slow. But that perception doesn’t match reality! With the right charging methods and habits, range anxiety melts away.

First, electricity is widely available. Most EV drivers do the bulk of charging at home while sleeping, or at work while their car sits idle in the parking lot. This convenient overnight or mid-shift charging easily offsets daily driving needs.

Second, today’s DC fast charging stations can add substantial range in 15-45 minutes. While not as fast as pumping gas, it’s speedy enough for quick pit stops during road trips or errands.

And charging sessions are easy to start. Just plug in at an EVgo station near your grocery store or park, tap the app, and charge while you shop or relax.

electric car charging stations

Level 1 charging refers to plugging an electric vehicle into a regular wall outlet. It’s the most basic and slowest form of EV charging.

But despite the sluggish pace, Level 1 can still be a useful option for some drivers. Who might benefit from Level 1 charging?

Well, it works well for folks who don’t drive many miles per day. The lower power level may be enough to replenish their daily commute overnight while they sleep.

Additionally, Level 1 is convenient because it doesn’t require installing specialty EV charging equipment. If you have access to a regular 120V household outlet where your car is parked, you’re good to go!

Of course, the downside is that Level 1 charging speed is quite slow. It may only add 3-5 miles of range per hour of charging. So it’s not practical for drivers who need to add more substantial range quickly.

Level 2 EV charging uses higher voltage (208-240V) than Level 1, similar to what electric dryers run on. This allows Level 2 chargers to operate much faster.

Rather than 20+ hours on Level 1, Level 2 can fully charge an EV battery in around 5-6 hours. That’s speedy enough for overnight charging at home in your garage.

Because of the faster rate, Level 2 chargers are ideal for locations where vehicles are parked for longer periods, like houses and workplaces. Time is less of a factor when the car will be sitting there anyway!

Public Level 2 stations can also be found at malls, shopping centers, and other businesses. While not as fast as DC fast charging, Level 2 offers a nice charge boost if you’re spending an hour or two shopping or eating out.

DC fast chargers handle that conversion internally using a beefy grid connection. This allows them to deliver raw DC power straight to the battery at much higher levels. It’s like injecting your EV with a shot of high-octane electron fuel!

As EV battery capacities have grown to enable more driving range, fast charging power has also increased:

  • Early DC chargers were around 25 kW
  • Today’s passenger EV chargers go up to 350 kW
  • Heavy duty vehicle chargers can be even more powerful

The key is to match your EV’s maximum charging rate to the charger’s power output. This ensures the fastest charging experience.

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EV Charging Terms Explained

Voltage levels can vary tremendously depending on the application. For powering entire buildings, distribution lines carry 120V or 240V. Meanwhile, taser guns can shoot out 50,000V! The voltage must match both the equipment and power source to work properly. Too little voltage means the device won’t function, while too much can fry the electronics.

While voltage can be thought of as electrical “pressure”, amperage measures the actual flow of electric current. Checking both the volts and amps ensures components are compatible and powered properly. Taking our water analogy full circle, monitoring both pressure and volume helps avoid burst pipes!

Watts measure electrical power, or the rate at which energy is consumed and work is done. Going back to our trusty pipe analogy, watts would be like calculating the total water power by multiplying pressure and flow rate.

In electricity, watts are found by multiplying volts and amps:

Watts = Volts x Amps

For example, a clothing iron may use 120 volts at 10 amps, so it has a power rating of 1200 watts. More watts means more power to quickly heat up and press fabric.

Kilowatt-hours (kWh) are a common measurement of electrical energy usage. Think of it as how much water flows through a pipe over the course of one hour. Similarly, a kWh refers to the amount of energy transferred in one hour of electric vehicle (EV) charging.

The state of charge (SOC) is like the fuel gauge for your electric vehicle’s battery pack. It indicates the remaining battery level as a percentage – 0% meaning fully empty and 100% meaning completely full. Monitoring your EV’s SOC is important for a smooth and anxiety-free driving experience.

For example, keeping the battery charged above 20% helps maintain optimal battery health and performance. Running the battery too low too often can potentially degrade the cells over time. On the flip side, it’s best not to frequently charge over 80% unless you really need the extra range. The charging speed slows down considerably after 80% since the system is balancing the cells.

What Affects Charging Speed?

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Your EV

Different manufacturers design custom battery packs for their EVs based on factors like intended range, performance, and cost. The type of battery cells, cooling systems, voltage, and charge management systems all impact charging capabilities.

Since rapid charging can potentially degrade battery life over time, the vehicle’s systems carefully regulate the charging process. The onboard computer draws only as much power from the charger as it determines is optimal for that specific battery’s needs.

In other words, the vehicle “decides” how quickly to charge in order to balance performance and battery life. One EV may charge faster than another model under the same conditions simply due to differences in battery capabilities and charge management strategies.

The charging system

When it comes to EV charging speed, both the electric vehicle and the charging station have maximum capacities that come into play. Essentially, the slower of the two determines the top charging rate for a session.

For example, suppose an EV is designed to handle 50 kW charging. If it’s connected to a 350 kW charger, it will still only charge at 50 kW because that’s the vehicle’s limit. Having a lower capable EV and a higher capable charger is fine – the car will simply charge at its maximum rate.

The takeaway is that your EV’s specs and the charging equipment specs both factor into charging speed. Your vehicle may allow faster charging, but you can only realize those speeds if using a compatible high-capacity charger. Knowing both capabilities helps predict optimal charging rates.

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Outside temperature

An EV battery’s temperature plays a key role in charging performance. Batteries prefer moderate conditions and can charge quickly within their ideal temperature range. However, too much heat or cold forces the system to charge at a slower, safer rate.

The charging process itself generates heat, like how your phone warms up when plugged in. If the battery is already hot from driving or high ambient temperatures, the additional heat from rapid charging can push it over the edge.

To prevent overheating risks, the battery management system throttles the charging speed, acting as the battery’s guardian. It ensures cell temperatures remain within safe levels by pulling less power from the charger when needed.

On the flip side, freezing temperatures can also impede the chemical reactions within the battery that allow it to charge rapidly. So in very cold weather, you may see slower charging as well.

How does your EV's battery management system determine the optimal charging rate??

An electric vehicle’s onboard computer, known as the battery management system (BMS), closely monitors charging to maximize battery life. It’s the brain keeping your battery in check.

The BMS considers various factors in real-time: battery temperature, age, current charge level, and external conditions. It uses sensors to constantly measure the state of the battery during charging.

Armed with this data, the BMS communicates with the charger to regulate voltage and current, effectively controlling the charging rate. It will only allow a rate that is safe and optimal based on the battery’s needs at that moment.

Typically, the BMS permits faster charging when the battery is empty and conditions are ideal. As the battery warms up and fills, it incrementally reduces the rate to avoid overheating or overcharging the cells.

For example, charging may start strong at 50kW but taper down to 20kW when the battery reaches 80% charge. This tapering effect maximizes speed while minimizing strain on the battery.

So in short, the BMS is constantly monitoring and adapting the charge rate to balance performance and longevity. The vehicle, not the charger, ultimately decides how fast it can safely charge up. This intelligent management is key to protecting your EV battery.

How Wireless EV Charging Works

Why does an EV's charging speed decrease as the battery fills up?

To understand this effect, it helps to visualize what’s happening inside the battery pack during charging. An EV battery contains thousands of smaller individual battery cells, like a bucket filled with many tiny ping pong balls.

When the battery is empty, those cells have lots of open space for electrons to easily “fill up” during charging, like finding empty seats in a movie theater. But as more cells become occupied, the electrons have a harder time navigating through and finding the remaining open spots.

It’s especially tough squeezing in electrons when the battery reaches around 80% and above, like trying to shuffle past mostly full rows to your seat. This molecular gridlock causes the charging speed to taper off dramatically once the battery nears its full capacity.

It’s not that the charger loses power. Rather, the vehicle’s battery management system deliberately slows down the rate to avoid overstuffing the cells when space is limited. Like careful theater ushers, the system protects the battery’s health.

So in summary, the decreasing charging speed is intentional and varies by vehicle to maximize longevity. The battery itself causes the slowdown as it fills up, not the charging equipment. Knowing this helps predict and plan your charging needs.

Why doesn't my EV always charge at the maximum rate advertised?

You might notice your electric vehicle doesn’t sustain the peak charging rate touted in its specs – so what gives? There are a few key factors at play:

  • The vehicle carefully regulates the charging process to protect battery health. The onboard computer draws only as much power from the charger as is optimal based on real-time conditions.

  • As the battery fills up, the charge management system tapers the rate down to avoid overheating or overstuffing the cells.

  • Extreme temperatures will lead the system to limit power draw to keep the battery in a safe operating range.

  • If the charger’s output is lower than the vehicle’s max capacity, that will restrict the charging speed as well.

  • Battery age and wear can reduce its ability to accept a rapid charge. Older batteries may charge slower.

  • Cabled connections can impact power delivery if corroded or damaged.

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