Charging an electric car at home
Electric cars can be charged with a 3-pronged outlet or a charging dock. The primary differences are charging time and cost.
Wed, Aug 29 2012 at 4:38 PM
Photo: ZUMA Press
Several car companies (Ford, Mitsubishi, and GM to name a few) have been working to develop and market more all-electric cars. Now interested consumers can purchase a vehicle that uses absolutely no petroleum products. All-electric cars also do not release any emissions. In fact, electric cars don’t even have a tailpipe. Some of the electrical cars being marketed are the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi iMiEV, and the Nissan Leaf. GM has a plug-in hybrid called the Chevy Volt.
You can spend $21,000 to over $40,000 to buy an all-electric car (some hybrid cars are both electric and gas-powered like the Volt), but how are they charged and what do you need to do to your home so you can accommodate your electric car?
What’s required to support an electric car at home?
Daniel Green of Hartford Mitsubishi said that when an electric car is purchased, the homeowner is required to have a certified electrical contractor, either sent by their car company or a technician of the client's choosing, to inspect the home’s electrical systems. If buyers do not submit to an inspection by a certified electrician, it is likely the dealership will require them to sign a wavier. “It’s to confirm your understanding of your responsibilities,” Green said.
A car can be charged at home in two ways. The first is with a typical three-pronged outlet that needs to be rated for at least 15 amps (or a 120V outlet). “Each car comes with a charging cord. You simply plug it in and it takes about 22 hours to charge,” Green said.
The second option is to purchase a home charging dock (240V). Green’s dealership, and most likely others, contract out for estimates and installation of a home charging dock. For example, Amazon may sell a home charging dock for $999 (EVSE Charging Dock), but each home has to be assessed for placement and safety. Green said that his dealership works with Best Buy for charger installations.
“You can also have it set up to have a charger placed in your garage for more convenience,” he said.
While it may seem like more effort and expense to install a charger dock for your electric car, the benefit is time saved. Charging your electric car from a charging dock takes only about seven hours from empty to full, Green said. He added that no matter the car brand, timing of charging an electric car from either an outlet or charging dock is roughly the same.
Safety precautions for your electric car charging dock
Green said to treat your charging dock “as you would any other electrical appliance.” He said the docks are safe to be outdoors, but to not have clutter, greasy rags or other debris around the charging dock. “It’s OK if it’s in the rain, it’s set up to take that, but you wouldn’t want to set it up next to your hose faucet,” Green said. “Otherwise just take the precautions you’d take with any other electrical appliance,” he said.
How long can you drive a 'full' electric car?
How far you can drive your electric car before it runs out of power is a big consideration. If you rarely drive, 22 hours for a charge up may not seem bad. Also some electric cars can drive only about 43 miles on a charge such as the Nissan Leaf advertises. Others such as the iMiEV advertise they can go well over 100 miles before needing to charge.
If you decide an electric car is for you, check into federal tax incentives to help defray costs. Currently, you can receive a tax credit of $7,500 if you purchase an electric car.
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