Owning an electric car is a big deal for many drivers. Not only do you have the pleasure of avoiding gas pumps, but you’re also doing your part to reduce pollution. However, it isn’t always easy to find an electric car charging station, and there are other charging-related nuances that can trip you up. While electric car batteries are getting better, you will still likely need to recharge away from home on occasion. The following are five things to know about charging your electric car:
1. Know Your Range
How far can your electric car travel before it needs to be charged? Manufacturers share this information on the vehicle’s Monroney sticker, and it should be in your owner’s manual as well. Commit this number to memory to avoid running out of power at inopportune times. Make sure you pay attention to your exact model specifications, as some electric vehicles are available with different ranges depending the battery option. For instance the F-150 Lightning electric pickup has a standard range of 230 miles, while the extended range model stretches that distance out to 320 miles. Likewise the 2022 Nissan LEAF has a range of 148 miles standard, but can be had with a larger battery to achieve 226 miles on a single charge.
2. Published Range Isn’t the Whole Story
Never rely exclusively on the manufacturer’s published or stated range when operating an electric car. If you do, you may lose power sooner than expected. For example, if you live in a hot or cold climate, your range may drop by 15 percent. On days with extreme temperatures, your range could fall by as much as 40 percent, according to Inside Science. Battery condition can also play a part, as batteries can degrade over time losing their ability to hold a full charge. Pay attention to the estimated range on your dashboard and go by that instead.
Although gas stations are plentiful, the same can’t be said for public charging stations. In recent years there has been a steady growth in dedicated charging stations, especially at busy areas likes retails stores. But there still isn’t a charging station on every street corner. Still, you can easily locate one by downloading a mobile application on your smartphone.
One such app, PlugShare, is compatible with both Apple and Android systems. It provides useful information like the locations of public and high power stations. Further, you can find residential chargers shared by PlugShare members. Choose “more options” and you can search for charging stations by network. This is important if you have a charging card related to ChargePoint, Blink, EVgo or another system. Maps are available via the app, as well as directions to each electric car charging station.
Some electric vehicles include a charger finder in their onboard navigation system. For example the FordPass™ Power My Trip feature can help not only plan your trip route, but also find charging stations along the way. Tesla also has an onboard navigation feature to help locate the nearest Supercharger.
4. Tesla and Nissan Owners, Take Note
If you own a Tesla or Nissan LEAF, you have a special advantage that other electric vehicle owners may not enjoy. With Tesla, a national supercharging network allows you to take extended trips without worry. Simply find the network station along your route and stop for a quick recharge. For LEAF owners, the Nissan “No Charge to Charge” arrangement was for those who bought or leased a 2013 or later Nissan LEAF before July 7, 2019. During that time owners got an EZ-Charge card that provided 24 months of unlimited 30-minute DC Fast charges and 60-minute Level 2 charges at participating stations. Unfortunately that program is now over and has been replaced with the Nissan Energy Perks by EVgo® program. This new program lets LEAF owners access over 46,000 chargers operated by EVgo. While the free charging is no longer unlimited, members can get up to $250 worth of EVgo charging credits.
Don’t own this brand of electric car? Check with your manufacturer to find out if a special deal is available for you.
5. Speed Up At-Home Charging
Electric cars are designed to charge when connected to any 120-volt outlet, even the ones found in your home. But charging can take hours at this voltage, and your car may not be completely charged even if it’s connected overnight. The solution here is to install electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE), which supplies 240 volts of electricity. When installed by an electrician, it should cost around $1,000, and discounts from your manufacturer may reduce the final price. The expense is worth it, though, as EVSE can reduce charge times by at least half. Ford has upped the home charger game with their Ford Charge Station Pro that can deliver 80 amps of power, but that’s not all. If you choose a Ford F150 Lightning with Extended Range Battery you can opt to add the Home Integration System which can actually power your home via the truck’s battery pack in the event of a power outage!
Electric Car Adoption
If you currently own an electric car or are considering purchasing or leasing one, you’ll join a growing group of consumers who are shaping the future. Advances in electric vehicle battery technology have pushed driving range to over 300 miles in a single charge (or more) finally making an EV an option for some drivers. However, if range anxiety is still a concern for you or if there is still a lack of charging infrastructure in your area, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle might be a better choice.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.