Gas cars refuel in minutes, so new EV
owners may worry about charge time. But unless you regularly drive
more miles daily than your EV's range, you can charge at home. Then
refueling takes less of your time than a gas car does. You will not
miss going to the gas station!
Here are some things to know about
Charging in a 110V outlet (Level 1 charging) will add
~6 miles/hour of charging. This may work for some users, but it
means charging a depleted EV can take a long time.
A 32Amp 240V charger (J1772 Level 2 charging) will
extend your range ~20-25 miles/hour of charging. Installing one of these chargers at home is a worthy
Some things to consider when buying a home Level 2
charger options at Amazon)
Power: Most home chargers are 32A or 40A,
which delivers ~7.2kW to 9.6kw. Some chargers do less (e.g. 16A) and
will charge more slowly (useful if you don't have necessary wiring).
Wiring: Chargers are either
hard-wired (requiring professional installation) or plug-in
(requiring an available 240V outlet). If you don't have 240V
available on a separate circuit you will need an
Cord length: How long a cord will you need to
conveniently reach your car?
Weatherproof: Will your charger be exposed to the
elements? If so, get an all-weather charger.
Features: Some chargers have timers, remote
control, web interfaces. These may be redundant if your car also has
Looks: The charger's "look" may be
relevant (low key, hi tech, modern, etc.) to the fashion-conscious.
Although many EV drivers never use
public chargers, there are times when public charging can help. A work charger can effectively double your
possible-commute-length. And, if your car supports fast charging, some
public chargers can add as much as 200 miles of range per hour.
Range is probably the most common
concern of new EV owners. But EVs provide more accurate range
information than gas cars, so with a little planning, running out of
charge is no more likely than running out of gas. And while gas stations are very common,
electrical outlets are even more common. In the unlikely event you
do get into a low charge situation, you may be delayed, but you can
plug in at a remarkable number of locations.
Think about your actual needs. For example, a 2017
goes about 100 miles on a charge (varies with
conditions). If your daily needs are under 80
miles, then just charge at home when needed and range isn a non-issue.
For longer trips, rent a car to match the specific trip. That way,
you have the optimal car for both your daily and exceptional
If you regularly need to go longer distances,
the Chevy Bolt
will go between 240-280 miles on a charge (varies with conditions).
With rebates, it's under $30K. Take one to Southern California with one
90 minute charge stop on Hwy 101 (fast-chargers every ~15 miles).
Be sure to download the PlugShare app for your smartphone
them online at
www.plugshare.com. This service lists charging stations from all
networks. It even lists individual EV owners who've agreed to let
another EV-driver-in-need use their charger.
It's a nice way to meet another EV driver — so
consider listing your charger when you get one!
The Better EV Route Planner
is a website and phone app that lets you get directions between two locations, and
estimates you how much charge you'll need for the trip.
EV Trip Planner is another service for planning trips, but a little dated
Online Car Picker Tools
Maintenance & Performance
Hopefully you aren't attached to
seeing your mechanic, because EVs require very little maintenance — rotating
tires, refilling windshield fluid, and replacing cabin air filters.
You won't need oil changes, timing belts, radiator fluid, or a hundred other things.
EVs rarely need brake maintenance, since
practiced EV drivers can use regen to brake and extend their range.
The new Chevy Bolt's "L mode" and regen paddle lets
you avoid almost all brake use. This is also a reason to go pure EV, since hybrids still require much
more maintenance (and usually have limited cargo space).
Most EVs perform much better than gas cars in the 0-40mph range,
providing instant, silent, rapid acceleration. Above that, different EVs
have differing performance characteristics. Some like the Tesla and Bolt accelerate exceptionally
in 40+ range as well. Drive carefully!
EVs have rapidly improved and prices
are dropping. Still, many of the cost advantages come after you have
the car. Tax credits, rebates, minimal maintenance, and low "fuel"
costs all improve the final cost.
Here are some credits/rebates (focus
for CA Bay area residents, you may have other rebates in your area).
This website doesn't cover the significant environmental benefits of EVs. However, the resources below
do. For example, a tool from the Union of Concerned Scientists will let you see how much carbon your
EV "emits" compared to a gas car. Our country may have failed the world regarding climate change, but
it's nice to know that, combined with solar, people with regular incomes can dramatically reduce
their carbon contribution.