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Just as a conventionally powered car won’t run without gas in the tank, neither will an electric vehicle unless its battery is sufficiently charged. But while most motorists can only get a fill-up at a gas station, EV owners have multiple options for replenishing their rides.

Home charging is probably the most convenient option for many people, since all it takes (at minimum) is a plug in your garage or near your driveway to give your EV the charge it’ll need to get you where you want to go.

Public charging stations are getting easier than ever to find, with nearly 400 separate stations together providing almost 1,000 separate charging outlets across Tennessee.

Finally, workplaces are catching on to the benefits of providing workplace charging spots for EV owners. Many employees are able to plug in when they get to work and enjoy a full battery for their daily commute home.

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Level 1 (L1) Charging

Level 1 equipment provides charging through a 120 volt (V), alternating-current (AC) plug and requires a dedicated circuit. Generally speaking, Level 1 charging refers to the use of a standard household outlet.

Level 1 charging equipment is standard on vehicles and therefore is portable and does not require the installation of charging equipment. On one end of the provided cord is a standard, three-prong household plug. On the other end is a connector, which plugs into the vehicle.

Depending on the battery technology used in the vehicle, Level 1 charging generally takes 8 to 12 hours to completely charge a fully depleted battery. The most common place for Level 1 charging is at the vehicle owner’s home and is typically conducted overnight.

Level 2 (L2) Charging

Level 2 equipment offers charging through a 240V, AC plug and requires installation of home charging or public charging equipment. These units require a dedicated 40 amp circuit.

Level 2 charging equipment is compatible with all electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. Level 2 chargers have a cord that plugs directly into the vehicle in the same connector location used for Level 1 equipment.

Depending on the battery technology used in the vehicle, Level 2 charging generally takes 4 to 6 hours to completely charge a fully depleted battery. Charging time can increase in cold temperatures. Level 2 chargers are commonly found in residential settings, public parking areas, places of employment and commercial settings.

DC Fast Charging (DCFC)

DC (Direct Current) chargers are the largest and fastest EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) for charging an electric vehicle. In DC fast-charging, the EV battery (which is also DC) is directly connected to an external AC to DC power supply.

DC Fast Charging provides charging through 480 Volt AC input and requires specialized, high-powered charging equipment and special equipment in the vehicle itself. DC Fast-Charging can deliver an 80% battery charge or 60 to 100 miles of range for most EV models in about 20-30 minutes of charging. This is the format used most often in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors.

While Level 1 and Level 2 charging is standardized, multiple charging plugs exist for DC Fast Charging depending on the vehicle manufacturer. It is important to know which type of DC Fast plug your electric car may have and locate charging opportunities accordingly.

Depending on how far you drive each day, you may be able to meet your driving needs with basic level 1 charging at home.

To reduce charging time, you may want to install a 240 V level 2 charging system. This may also provide you with additional functionality (like cost estimation or remote on/off) and allow you to participate in future utility programs designed to reward people for charging at specific times, like after midnight, when area power demand is low.

Contact your local power provider to see if they offer any rebates for installing a level 2 charging system in your home or business!

At the moment, different EV manufacturers use different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers, but firms building the charging networks needed for electric vehicles to become mainstream say the number of plug formats will need to be limited to keep costs down.

The Combined Charging System (CCS) favored by BMW, Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen group, which includes Audi and Porsche, combines a Level-2 charger with an additional DC Fast Charge port for fast charging capability.

Besides CCS, there are three other standards that will charge batteries fast: Tesla’s Supercharger system; CHAdeMO (also known as Charge de Move), developed by Japanese firms including carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi; and GB/T in China, the world’s biggest electric car market.