Electric Vehicle Charging Explained. Vehicle to vehicle charging

Electric Vehicles

Cook County is launching an initiative to address electric vehicle (EV) charging deserts throughout the County’s suburban communities.

About Electric Vehicles

An EV is any vehicle that can drive on electricity derived from a power plug.

  • An all-electric vehicle (sometimes called a battery electric vehicle or BEV) is powered by an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. A BEV drives solely on power from the plug.
  • A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) uses electricity from plugging in as well as gasoline.
  • EVs use regenerative braking which takes wasted energy from the process of slowing the vehicle to recharge the vehicle’s battery.

Ways to Charge an EV

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 80% of people with electric vehicles charge their vehicles at home.

electric, vehicle, charging, explained

You can charge your electric car using standard 120 volt(V) home outlets (Level 1), 208-240V outlets like those used by your dryer (Level 2) or dedicated 480V public fast chargers (DC Fast Charging).

How long it takes to charge your vehicle depends on the power level of your charger as well as your vehicle’s battery.

Public Charging Stations

There are 600 public charging stations within the City of Chicago. Below are some examples of maps that can help you locate public charging stations:

The following resources offer additional information regarding EVs:

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Program

This program will increase the number and access to public EV charging stations throughout Cook County, directly addressing a barrier to growth in the EV market. Increasing the number of EV charging stations ultimately reduces greenhouse gas emissions, provides valuable infrastructure as transition from gas- and diesel-powered vehicles occurs and benefits future regional infrastructure planning efforts.

This program will install public charging stations in suburban areas where there are currently large gaps in service, or charging deserts, primarily in the south and west suburbs of Cook County.

There are already large gaps in access to EV charging stations throughout the suburbs of Cook County.

The charging deserts that currently exist are often in Black and Latine communities where there is already a disproportionate exposure to air pollution. Increasing access to charging stations will improve air quality and improve access to EVs, making an EV a more feasible option for a larger number of County residents. EVs are a more affordable vehicle option in comparison to a gas-powered vehicle when looking at the costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Future Charging Station Locations

A goal of this program is to support communities where it is currently more difficult to charge an EV. Some of the barriers to charging include having fewer financial resources to install chargers and having less control over charging at home because of renting or living at a multifamily dwelling unit where charging options could be limited. Because of these barriers, the priority communities for these public charging stations are:

  • under-resourced communities
  • areas with a higher density of renter-occupied housing
  • areas with a higher amount of multifamily dwelling units

Program Timeline

The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability and Bureau of Asset Management will work with municipalities, organizations and businesses to install these public charging stations throughout 2023-2024 after a robust community engagement process.

Electric Vehicle Charging Explained

From charging stations to charging equipment, here’s everything you need to know.

Buying an electric vehicle (EV) means being able to skip expensive trips to the pump while protecting our climate and health. But there’s still a learning curve when it comes to charging, from how long it takes to how much it costs. Let’s break down your most pressing questions about EV charging so that you can drive and refuel confidently.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Charging your EV from empty can take as little as 20 minutes or upwards of 40 hours, depending on everything from the size of your particular car’s battery to where and when you decide to charge. First, it’s good to know the three levels of charging for EVs.

  • Level 1: This is EV-speak for plugging the cord set that comes with your EV into a regular 120-volt outlet (the same kind you’d use for, say, a phone charger or a lamp). The gist is that this level of charging is slow—between 40 and 50 hours, if you’re charging from empty. Though it’s worth noting that, on average, U.S. car owners only drive about 31 miles a day. So Level 1 may be enough for your daily needs or in a pinch to add some mileage.
  • Level 2: This means you’re charging from a 220-volt outlet (the same kind that heavy-duty appliances like washers use) or hardwired equipment. In this scenario, you can charge from empty in about four to ten hours. Public Level 2 charging stations are common at locations where drivers tend to park, like workplaces or commercial parking lots, but most EV owners also get this version installed in their garage so they can charge overnight. A nice bonus: Some incentives could cover the cost of Level 2 equipment.
  • Level 3: For the fastest charging speeds, you can turn to Level 3 chargers—also known as DCFC chargers or direct current fast chargers—which can charge your EV from empty in as little as 20 minutes. These public charging stations are more expensive to use, but they are particularly great for time-conscious road-trippers or urban drivers who can’t easily refuel at home. Plus, they’re getting faster. The first generation typically charged vehicles at 50kW, but the ones being installed today are generally at least three times as powerful, with some charging at 350kW.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy an Electric Car?

Overall, there are a few other things to keep in mind. One, you’ll rarely charge your battery from completely empty to completely full. EV drivers are far more likely to “top off” their battery—making charging times quicker in practice. (In general, most manufacturers suggest keeping the battery’s charge in the range of 20 to 80 percent to extend its life.)

And, of course, not every car has the same battery capacity. General Motors’ 2022 all-electric Hummer, with its massive 212 kWh battery, could take hours longer to fully charge than the Chevy Bolt’s more modest 65-kWh battery. That said, Level 2 charging can generally charge even the biggest EV batteries overnight.

Additionally, not every battery can accept electricity at the same rate, a limitation that’s most relevant when it comes to Level 3 charging. The first generation of EVs was often only capable of charging at 50kW, so they cannot take advantage of the 350kW Level 3 charging stations that are increasingly the industry standard and which can provide hundreds of miles of range in about as much time as it takes to get a coffee and use the restroom.

What are the different types of EV plugs?

EVs have distinct charge ports, which are like outlets on the car. This means that the shape of the plug you connect to your EV varies as well. It’s important to know what plug your car uses, as not every public charging station will be compatible with every kind of plug.

For Level 1 and Level 2 charging, all EVs sold in the United States (besides Teslas) use a J1772 plug (also known as a J-plug). For speedy Level 3 DCFC, all U.S. EVs (again, besides Teslas) use either CCS (which stands for “combined charging system” and is the most common) or CHAdeMO plugs, depending on the brand of car. Teslas use the same proprietary plug for all levels of charging—including at Tesla Supercharger stations. They also come standard with a J1772 adapter.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The average EV driver will spend 60 percent less on fueling costs compared to the average gas vehicle in their class. But electricity still isn’t free, and you’ll have to do a little math to determine what charging will run you.

Most EV owners regularly charge at home, which means the cost of electricity where you live and when you charge your car will determine your bill. To get a rough estimate of your monthly charging costs at home, multiply your car’s kilowatt-hour (kWh)/100 miles rate (the EV equivalent of miles per gallon) by your electricity rate, which you can find on your utility bill. This will give you the electricity cost per 100 miles driven.

Note that charging your car overnight, when electricity demand and price drop, can save you as much as 30 percent. If you forgo charging at home and go with public charging stations, particularly the ultra-speedy DC fast chargers, you’ll be paying a premium.

But if you want to skip the math, know this: Charging at home is roughly the equivalent of fueling up on a dollar-a-gallon gasoline, according to NRDC senior attorney Max Baumhefner.

Where are the electric vehicle charging stations near me?

EV charging stations aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations—but that’s likely to change. Encouragingly, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dedicated 7.5 billion to build out half a million more public charging stations. Plus, as the market share of EVs grows, expect local governments, utilities, and private electric vehicle charging companies like ChargePoint and Tesla to build out their networks too. But even now, there’s a good chance you can find at least a few public chargers near you.

You can use a public charging station app—like ChargeHub, PlugShare, or Chargemap—to filter nearby locations by available plug type.

Are electric vehicles worth it?

Rest assured that choosing to drive an EV—and learning how to charge it—is well worth your time: The average EV consumer saves thousands of dollars across the life of the car, spares the community toxic tailpipe emissions, and helps us ditch climate-destroying fossil fuels for good.

This NRDC.org story is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by NRDC.org and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.

Electric Vehicle Charging Overview

Imagine never having to stop at a gas station again – and instead, having an unlimited supply of fuel available at home or wherever you normally park. For many electric vehicle (EV) drivers, this is a reality. Battery electric vehicles never need gas, and for short trips, plug–in hybrids might use no gas.

EV charging is simple, cost–effective, clean and convenient, particularly when you are plugged in at home – filling up your car, even while you’re asleep.

There are three categories of electric vehicle (EV) charging: Level 1, Level 2 and DC fast charging. Levels 1 and 2 charging use a universal connector that can be plugged into any EV. DC fast charging uses three different connector systems called CHAdeMO, CCS Combo and Tesla Supercharger.

Although EV drivers primarily charge at home, workplace and public chargers are increasingly available in communities nationwide. Use our EV Charging Station Map to find nearby charging stations.

Level 1 Charging

Level 1 is the slowest method of charging but is sufficient for drivers who charge overnight and travel 30–40 miles per day. Charging cables usually come with a vehicle and plug into a standard 120–volt AC outlet with no equipment installation required. Level 1 charging works well for charging at home, work or anywhere a standard outlet is available – and when you have sufficient time to charge.

Level 1 charging uses a standard J1772 or Tesla connector that can plug into any EV, either directly, or through an adapter.

Level 1 charging adds about 3.5 – 6.5 miles of driving range per hour of charging time.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging is considerably faster, but requires installing a charging station, also known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). EVSE requires a dedicated 240–volt or 208–volt electrical circuit, similar to what is required for a clothes dryer or electric range. Level 2 is found at many public and workplace charging stations, but also in many homes. It uses the same standard connector as Level 1 charging, meaning any EV can plug in at any Level 2 charger.

Level 2 charging uses a standard J1772 or Tesla connector that can plug into any EV, either directly, or through an adapter.

Depending on battery type, charger configuration and circuit capacity, Level 2 charging adds about 14 – 35 miles of range per hour of charging time.

DC Fast Charging

DC fast charging, also called quick charging or supercharging, provides the fastest available fill–up. It requires a 480–volt connection, making DC fast charging unsuitable for home use, and not every EV model is equipped for it. Stations offering DC fast charging are found in shopping centers and often along major travel corridors, allowing EV drivers to charge up quickly and take longer trips.

DC fast charging uses CHAdeMO, CCS or Tesla connector systems. Check with your vehicle manufacturer to determine if your car has fast charging capability and what connector systems are compatible with your EV.

Depending on battery type, charger configuration and circuit capacity, DC fast charging can add up to 100 miles of range in about 30 minutes of charging time.

Electric Vehicle Charging Costs

Home Charging CostsThe cost to charge your electric vehicle depends on your vehicle’s battery size and the price of electricity where you live. Most utilities offer time–of–use (TOU) rates that greatly reduce costs associated with charging a vehicle at home by charging during off–peak hours. Contact your utility to find out more. 1

While electricity costs vary greatly, the average cost of electricity in California is about 16.58¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh). 2 At this price point, charging a 40–kWh battery with a 150–mile range would cost about 4.42¢ per mile (or about 6.63 to fully charge). Meanwhile, fueling a 25–mpg gas vehicle at California’s average gas price of 3.11 per gallon 3 would cost about 12.44¢ per mile (or about 18.66 for enough gas to drive approximately 150 miles).

Home charging costs can be offset by hosting your charger on a home charging sharing network. EV drivers can earn money by sharing their home chargers or connect with other hosts to find convenient charging on the go. For more information about how you can earn money by sharing your home charger, please see these popular sharing networks:

Public Charging CostsWhile charging at home is generally preferred, many people also charge their EV at public charging stations. These stations can be free, pay–as–you–go or subscription-based, and are set by networks or property owners. Some vehicle manufacturers, such as Hyundai, Nissan and Tesla also provide complimentary public charging.

One popular public charging network charges members 1.50 per hour to charge on Level 2, and 26¢ per minute for DC fast charging in California. 4 At these rates, charging a 40–kWh battery with a 150–mile range would cost about 8¢ per mile on Level 2, and 9¢ per mile for DC fast charging.

For more information about public charging networks, here are some popular options available in California:

1 A list of utility providers is at https://www.energy.ca.gov/almanac/electricity_data/utilities.html2 https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state3 https://www.energy.gov/articles/egallon-how-much-cheaper-it-drive-electricity4 https://www.evgo.com/charging-plans/

Charging Station Rebates

Rebates for Residential Level 2 Charging StationsMany California utility providers and air districts offer rebates to make home Level 2 charging stations more affordable. Some of the rebates also help to offset the cost of installing the charging station at your home if additional electrical work is required. Find available rebates where you live.

Rebates for Commercial EV Charging StationsProperty owners can take advantage of rebates for installing commercial charging stations for public use. EV charging is a desired amenity for many California drivers and can attract more traffic to your business, improve tenant or employee satisfaction and generate a new revenue stream (fees for charging). Following are incentives that decrease the cost of charger purchases and installation. Visit the websites for more information on program eligibility requirements and funding availability.

Utility Incentives

Air District Incentives

EV Charging Basics

Learn more about different charging options for electric vehicles (EVs), plus where you can find rebates to help cover purchase and installation costs.

EV Charger Types

EV chargers are classified into three categories: Level 1, Level 2 and direct current (DC) fast chargers.

EV chargers are classified into three categories: Level 1, Level 2 and direct current (DC) fast chargers.

Important differences include:

  • Input voltage. This is how much power a charger requires to operate and is expressed in volts.
  • Power output. This is how much power a charger can generate and is expressed in kilowatts (kW).
  • Charging speed. This is the number of miles added to the EV’s battery per hour of charging and depends on the charger’s power output.
  • Equipment and installation cost. While basic EV chargers are inexpensive and can be plugged into a standard outlet, others have higher upfront equipment and must be installed professionally by an electric vehicle service provider (EVSP).
  • EV power intake. Depending on your EV, the power output pulled from a charger (in kW) may be limited by how much the EV’s battery can withstand. Check your vehicle’s specifications to know which charging level your vehicle can use.

Numerous manufacturers produce EV chargers, with a variety of products, price points, applications and functionality. Because of these differences, it is important to choose an EV charger that fits your intended use and budget.

Direct Current Fast Charging

How fast is DC fast charging?

Depending on the EV, DC fast chargers can currently produce a 10-80% charge for a 300-mile range battery in approximately 20 minutes (~540 miles of electric drive per hour of charging).

What is the input voltage for a DC fast charger?

Currently available DC fast chargers require inputs of at least 480 volts and 100 amps, but newer chargers are capable of up to 1000 volt and 500 amps (up to 360 kW).

electric, vehicle, charging, explained

How much do DC fast chargers cost?

A CALeVIP Cost Data analysis found that the unit cost per charger for rebate recipients ranged from a minimum of 18,000 to a maximum of 72,500. The mean and median unit cost per charger was 29,135 and 23,000, respectively.

In addition to higher equipment costs, DC fast charger installations require a commercial electrician from the initial planning phase due to the electrical load and wiring requirements.

Is a DC fast charger the right EV charger for me?

DC fast chargers are the highest-powered EV chargers on the market. They often are used as range extenders along major travel corridors for long-distance trips and in urban environments to support drivers without home charging or very high mileage drivers. At current charging speeds, they are ideal for places where a person would spend 30 minutes to an hour, such as restaurants, recreational areas and shopping centers.

It is important to note that not every EV model is capable of DC fast charging, and therefore, they cannot be used by every EV driver. Further, DC fast chargers have multiple standards for connectors, whereas there is only one common standard for Level 1 and 2 charging (SAE J1772). DC fast chargers have three types of connectors: CHAdeMO, CCS and Tesla, though CCS is increasingly becoming the industry standard.

Level 2 Chargers

How fast is Level 2 charging?

A Level 2 charger can currently produce a full charge for a 300-mile range battery in about 6-8 hours and is perfect for destination and overnight charging.

What is the input voltage of a Level 2 charger?

Level 2 chargers typically require 220V or 240V service.

What is the power output of a Level 2 charger?

Level 2 chargers are available with a variety of power outputs from 3 kW to 19 kW, which can sometimes be adjusted.

How much do Level 2 chargers cost?

CALeVIP Cost Data show that rebate recipients reported average L2 equipment costs ranging from 685 to 6,626 per connector. The mean and median were 2,976 and 2,884 per connector, respectively.

Is a Level 2 charger the right EV charger for me?

Level 2 chargers are typical solutions for residential and commercial/workplace settings. Most offer higher power output than Level 1 chargers and have additional functionality.

Non-networked vs. networked chargers

In general, Level 2 chargers are distinguished between non-networked chargers and networked chargers.

Networked chargers have advanced capabilities, such as charge scheduling, load management and demand response. They are more common in commercial/workplace settings where payments are required or at multiunit dwellings (MUDs) where the property’s electricity bill is shared by multiple residents.

electric, vehicle, charging, explained

They may be designed for indoor or outdoor use (e.g., NEMA 3R, NEMA 6P, NEMA 4x rated).

Some models of networked chargers also can limit charging to certain hours, which allows the operator to maximize a time-of-use (TOU) electricity rate structure and only allow charging when electricity is the cheapest (usually sometime between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.). This type of control also increases the likelihood of participating in utility demand response programs.

Some of the enhanced features of a networked Level 2 charger include remote access/control via Wi-Fi or cellular connection, access control/ability to accept multiple forms of payment, load balancing across multiple chargers and more. Additionally, California will soon begin allowing the use of submeters already embedded within networked chargers to bill electricity use. For more information on submetering, visit the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website.

Non-networked Level 2 chargers are used both in single-family residences and MUDs. They may be designed for indoor or outdoor use (e.g., NEMA 3R, NEMA 6P, NEMA 4x rated). Non-networked Level 2 chargers are useful for installations at MUDs or commercial sites that are powered by the residents’ or tenants’ subpanels.

In this case, any electricity used by the chargers will be charged to the individual’s electricity bill, thus eliminating the need to separately meter the chargers. Further, when electrical capacity is available, non-networked Level 2 chargers are useful for site hosts that need higher power than Level 1 charging but do not have a large budget.

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