Electric Vehicles. Car ev charger

How to Charge an Electric Car

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by batteries that provide energy to electric motors, driving motion to the wheels. Keeping the battery charged is key to keeping the vehicle moving and is just as easy as filling up on gas in a gas-powered car.

We’re here to explain all you need to know about charging an electric vehicle: step-by-step instructions, where to charge, how long it takes to charge and how far a charge lasts. We’ll also cover the different charging station output levels, the average cost of charging an EV and how to monitor your charge status.

How does charging work?

Charging occurs by connecting the EV to a power source known as a charging station. Once connected to the charging station, EVs use their charging port and onboard charger to convert the external power into battery charge. While all-electric cars (BEVs), such as the Tesla Model 3, must be repowered at a charging station, hybrid vehicles (HEVs and PHEVs) can be recharged at a charging station or refueled at a gas station.

Please return your EV rental with its battery charged to at least 10%. If you charge at a Tesla network station, we’ll pass through charging-related fees to the credit card you used to rent your Tesla. And if you charge at a third-party charging station, just pay on the spot.

EVs are able to charge at three different levels of power output. These different output levels impact where you can charge (home or public location) as well as the equipment and time required to charge. Home chargers use Level 1 or Level 2 charging equipment.

Level 1 uses a standard household outlet (120-volt connection).

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EVs come with a standard 120V charging cord so you’ll be able to charge if you have access to an outlet.

Level 2 uses a higher 240-volt power source and can be compared to the power grid your oven is plugged into and charges much quicker than a Level 1 outlet.

DC fast chargers are found at public charging stations. These provide quicker charging times than Level 1 and 2 stations and are ideal if you require a boost of power in a shorter amount of time.

EV batteries also receive power through a process called regenerative (regen) braking. Regen braking uses torque to slow the car, recapturing energy that is normally lost in non-electric cars by using an inverter to invert energy from the brakes.

While regen braking does improve the battery charge, it is not the primary source of recharging for all-electric vehicles (BEVs). For maximum performance, a charging station is required to repower the battery.


Recharging an EV is just like filling up with gas, but rather than inserting a nozzle at a gas station, you insert a connector at a charging station. Use the following steps to charge Model 3:

  • Open the charge port cover via the touchscreen or by pushing on the cover.
  • Remove charging station connector from dock and insert into the car’s charge port. While charging, the charge port logo will flash green.
  • The touchscreen will inform you of charge percentage and estimated time remaining. To optimize battery performance, your rental car will charge to 90%.
  • When complete, press the connector button until the logo turns white, remove from car and return to dock.

While Model 3 is compatible with all EV charging stations, an adapter is required when using non-Tesla stations. Each of our Model 3 rentals comes equipped with a Mobile Connector kit which includes the adapter. After using the adapter, always be sure to remove it from the charging station connector and return it to the Mobile Connector kit.

Where can I charge the car?

As well as charging at home, public and private charging stations provide you with a place to recharge and restart your journey. There are currently over 40,000 official public charging stations available across the US, with nearly 100,000 charging outlets installed in public spaces. To meet the increasing demand for electric car energy, stations are rapidly being installed nationwide.

Requiring only limited space, EV charging stations can exist in similar locations to gas stations, such as off the highway or even at gas stations, and in locations not suitable for gas stations. Such locations include public parking garages, office and retail parking lots and even busy downtown streets.

There are a variety of ways to locate public charging stations. In Model 3, Tesla Supercharger stations appear as red pins on the navigation screen. You can also touch the lightning bolt on the touchscreen or ask for location options via voice command.

Apps, such as Plugshare and ChargePoint, are available as well to pinpoint your nearest charging location. You can also visit the US Department of Energy website and use their charging station locator to find stations throughout the US.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Electric car charging times vary depending on the size of the battery and the charging station output. The vehicle model affects the charge time as well, with manufacturers like Tesla, GM and others having different models that offer varying charge periods.

If you know the power output level of a charging station, you will know whether to expect a slower or faster charging experience. When available, we encourage you to select charging stations in the following order:

  • Tesla Superchargers: Add up to 200 miles in only 15 minutes
  • DC fast chargers: Ideal for longer journeys requiring short stops
  • Level 2 (240V): Achieve a partial to complete charge in 5-8 hours
  • Level 1 (120V): Convenient for home or local driving use, not for long trips

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Charging an EV at home has been found to be the most affordable and common option, with owners typically doing 80% of charging at home. The average EV-owning US household pays 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy used to charge, adding on average 30-60 to a monthly energy bill.

While you’re likely not home while renting a car, our Model 3 rentals include a Mobile Connector kit which enables you to connect the car to a standard 120V household outlet should one be available during your trip. Additionally, the home charging savings are worth noting when comparing refueling costs of gas-powered cars.

So how much does it cost to charge an EV at a public charging station? In short, it varies, but is always more affordable – and greener – than filling up with gas. Although free public charging stations do exist, most stations charge a fee based on kWh usage, charging time or percentage of battery charged.

The costs of charging can also vary depending on your location. Home charging, for example, varies from an average of 8.65 cents per kWh in Iowa to a rate of 32.76 cents per kWh in Hawaii. Just as home charging rates vary, rates at public charging stations can vary – even within the same city. Apps, such as Plugshare and ChargePoint, can reduce charging costs by locating free or less expensive charging stations in your area.

No matter the distance of your journey, charging an EV is sure to provide cost savings compared with fueling a gas-powered car.

How far can an electric car go on one charge?

Electric cars are capable of reaching different driving ranges, depending on:

Make and model Size of the battery How much the battery is charged

Most EVs easily travel over 200 miles on a full charge, with select Tesla models reaching beyond that. The Tesla Model 3, for example, can travel up to 260-mile range. With electric vehicle technology advancing all the time, these ranges are estimated to increase over the coming years.

Just like a car powered by gas, weather conditions and the style in which you drive an electric car will affect how much power the car has. For example, harsh braking uses more energy whether a car operates by gas or electric. Exercising safe driving practices will stop the car from wasting vital energy that could get it further down the road.

Likewise, using power-draining instruments and accessories onboard can deplete the battery. This includes entertainment systems, lighting and air conditioning.

Monitoring your Model 3 charge can be done in multiple ways. Displayed in a prominent location on the touchscreen, the battery meter reflects the charge remaining with numerical percentage, a status bar and color changes (green to yellow to red), and the battery range displays estimated miles remaining. Using Model 3’s voice command technology, you can also ask your car for an update on its battery charge.

Although unlikely to occur if you are monitoring your charge, Model 3 provides plentiful alerts and warnings as well as suggested nearby charging station locations via pop-up notifications if a low charge is detected.

Ready to recharge and rethink the way you drive? Learn more about EVs by visiting our electric car hub for more information.

EPA estimate according to Tesla, Inc. product specifications.

See your EV Rental Terms to learn more

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) are available with the same features and accessories as gas-powered cars but use electric motors with rechargeable batteries freeing your drive from fossil fuels. They are a critical step toward reducing carbon emissions and are particularly popular in the Seattle area because EV owners benefit from City Light’s clean, affordable electricity.

Why Drive an EV?

They are cheaper to drive and operate. There are more options than ever to buy new, used, or lease an EV at an affordable price. Less maintenance and our low-cost electricity help you save, and you can take advantage of Washington State incentives and discounts. But don’t just take our word for it:

They are convenient to fuel. Many owners can charge their cars overnight at home, just like a cell phone. If your company has charging stations, you can also charge your car while you work. And, there are numerous public charging stations with chargers throughout the region, including several owned and planned by City Light.

They are better for our health. Since electric cars don’t produce tailpipe emissions, the air we breathe is less toxic, contributing to better air quality and health for our communities.

They are better for the environment. Rest easy knowing you are charging on our carbon-free hydroelectricity, delivered with a net-zero impact. EVs are oil-free, produce 85% fewer carbon emissions, and can be powered by renewable energy like City Light’s hydroelectric dams or solar panels.

What to Know Before You Buy an EV

Know how much range you need. If your daily commute is 80 miles or less, most models will get you there on one charge. If you are going further, consider a model with ranges of 200 miles per charge. Explore the Electric Power Research Institute Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles for more information.

Plan for access to charging. If you have source of power where you park at home or work, you’re all set. EVs typically come with a Level 1 charger that can plug in directly to a standard 120-volt outlet to charge your car. For faster charging, you can install a home charger using the same type of 240-volt outlet that powers your laundry dryer or electric oven (called Level 2 charging).

If you live in a condo or apartment, find out if the building has or can install Level 1 or Level 2 chargers.

For more information about installing chargers for single and multifamily homes in Seattle, visit the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections EV charging tips resource.

City Light Public Charging Stations

We’re installing fast public charging stations across our service area and curbside Level 2 chargers in the City of Seattle. allowing you to get a full charge for most vehicles through City Light’s clean electricity.

Check out our public charging FAQs:

Still have questions? Contact an Energy Advisor today.

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).

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.

electric, vehicles, charger

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.

electric, vehicles, charger

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?

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.

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.

The Difference Between Level 1 2 EV Chargers

Whether you already own an electric vehicle (EV) or are looking to purchase one in the near future, the biggest topic of concern for most drivers comes down to where charging will occur and how much it will cost.

Despite having an environmentally friendly vehicle that cuts reliance on gasoline, using a Level 1 home charger is not reliable or convenient for most EV drivers. Instead, having a faster, Level 2 charging station can reduce range anxiety and calm logistical fears, as you become less reliant on charging on the go.

But what exactly is a Level 2 car charger and why does it present better value than its Level 1 counterpart?

Types of EV Charging Connectors: What is Level 2 Charging?

Vehicle owners are often supplied with Level 1 chargers from automobile manufacturers at the time of purchase to use at home with 120v standard outlets. However, upgrading to a Level 2 EV charger is a good and practical investment. A Level 2 charger is like having your own gas pump in your garage, but it is a Smart appliance that charges your vehicle. An added convenience: not only is a Level 2 car charger ready when you need it to be, you can save on electricity by charging during lower rate times.

A Level 2 EV charging station delivers an electrical current from an outlet or hardwired unit to the vehicle via the connector, similar to a standard-issue charger. Level 2 car chargers use a 208-240v power source and a dedicated circuit — potentially up to 60 amps. However, 32 amp charging stations like the EvoCharge EVSE or iEVSE Home Smart EV Charger offer more flexibility and potential costs saving by requiring a lower 40 amp circuit.A Level 1 will deliver around 1.2 kW to the vehicle, while a Level 2 charger ranges from 6.2 to 19.2 kW, with most chargers around 7.6 kW.

EvoCharge EVSE Level 2 EV Charging Station

EvoCharge’s standard EVSE Level 2 charger is a simple plug-and-charge solution for the basic needs of charging your vehicle at home quickly and safely.


How Fast is a Level 2 EV Charger?

While a Level 1 charger will typically get 4 miles of driving range per hour of charge, a Level 2 charger will get an average of 32 miles of driving range per hour of charge. This means that you’re charging up to 8 times faster with a Level 2 charging station. Typical charging time for a Level 2 EV charger is around 3-8 hours from empty to full while the average Level 1 EV charger will take 11-20 hours to fully charge.

electric, vehicles, charger

Level 2 chargers will deliver 6.2 to 19.2 kW versus the 1.2 kW you get with a Level 1. For a direct comparison, check out this resource to see how fast a Level 2 charger is compared to its counterpart.

When One Might Consider a Level 1

A Level 2 EV charger needs a 240v outlet, which many new homes or new multi-unit homes and building standards require. If you do not have a 240v outlet, a certified electrician can easily install one and the cost can sometimes be offset through local, federal, state or utility companies which offer rebates and financial incentives for the charger, installation, or for charging during lower electric rate times.

Additionally, Level 2 charging stations like the EvoCharge iEVSE Home Smart EV Charger allow you to customize charging schedules with the EvoCharge mobile app to better control charging, lessening your overall cost and making you eligible for further rebates through your municipality so you get faster charging times at a lower cost. The mobile app also provides usage history, multiple vehicle controls, and much more.

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