Electric Vehicle FAQs

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Answers to Commonly Asked Questions about Electric Vehicles

How much will it cost to charge my car at home?

The cost to charge your EV will vary depending on how much you pay for electricity and the capacity of the battery. On average, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) costs less than $1 a day to charge. Electric vehicles will cost $2-$4 per day to charge at home.

What is the difference between Level 1, Level 2 and Fast Charge EVSEs?

Level 1: Level 1 charging uses the car’s standard charging cable to plug into a common 120v outlet. Although slow, the outlets are virtually everywhere and most cars spend more than 21 hours a day parked. If plugged in while parked, the car can maintain over 40 miles a day by just plugging-in overnight at home. There is no charging infrastructure to Level 1 charging as all that is needed is the charging cable that is included with the car and a 120V outlet.

Level 2: Level 2 charging can be installed in the home or commercial locations, but requires a dedicated outlet running 240 volts.  The benefit of Level 2 chargers is a faster top up of the battery.  Most vehicles fully charge overnight.  Many jurisdictions offer EV owners reduced electricity rates if they charge their vehicles in off-peak hours.  Level 2 chargers in commercial locations can also be programmed to manage fleet vehicles, to charge flat or hourly rates to visiting vehicles or to only offer charging to employees or residents of a multi-unit building.

Level 3: Level 3 chargers are most often referred to as DC Fast Charging.  These fast chargers use direct current (DC), which is different than the alternating current (AC) that is available in homes and most commercial buildings. Delivering as much as 800 Volts, vehicles can charge up to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes.  These units are found primarily in retail, commercial and fleet management applications.

How long do batteries last?

The jury is still out on this one. Most EV manufacturer’s warranty vehicle batteries between 8 and 10 years or up to 100,000 miles. Some makes are also protected from excessive loss of capacity (below 70%). Batteries generally don’t fail, but become less efficient over time, leading to reduced range on a charge. A battery’s life is counted not in years, or miles, but in cycles. How often you charge and deplete a battery will impact its effective life, and other factors like ambient temperature (think Phoenix, Arizona) can cause it to operate less efficiently over time.

How can I make my battery last longer?

EV maintenance costs are low, so protecting the battery life helps you to get the most out of your investment. EV enthusiasts have developed some habits to baby their batteries and keep them running longer at optimum capacity:

  1. Avoid keeping your car sitting with a full or empty charge. Optimum range is between 20-80% charge.
  2. Minimize fast-charging. Level 2 overnight/daily charging is the best option to make your battery last longer.
  3. Avoid extreme temperatures if possible.
  4. High use is not a concern.  Fewer moving parts means less maintenance.  Don’t leave your EV fleet vehicles sitting idle.
  5. Only charge your battery to 100% if you know you are planning on taking a long trip.

Are electric vehicles safe to drive?

Electric cars still have to undergo the same safety testing and evaluations their fuel-powered counterparts are subject to. Even if the supply of electricity is cut in an accident, the airbags will still deploy. Many people are concerned about the batteries in electric vehicles as a fire risk, but the risk of fire in an accident is much lower than in a gasoline powered internal combustion engine (ICE). Pedestrian and bicycle involved accidents are statistically more likely with EVs because the lack of engine noise sometimes causes them to not remain safe around your vehicle. Drivers should keep this in mind and remain cautious of this possibility.

Can you charge an electric vehicle in the rain?

Electric vehicle charging stations use a connection port standard referred to as J1772. This design includes several layers of shock protection and specifically protects safety even in wet conditions. The pins are inside the charging head preventing physical contact. Until a connection with the vehicle port is made, no voltage flows to the pins, and power will not flow until requested by the vehicle. If a port is removed during charging, proximity detection pins are the first to disconnect and automatically interrupt the flow of power.

Can an electric car charger start a fire in my garage?

You can find sensational stories about EVs spontaneously combusting in garages on the internet. The fact of the matter is that garage fires happen no matter what vehicle is parked in them. The best way to insure that your electric vehicle will not pose an outsized risk to your property is to have your residential car charger installed by certified electricians. Clinton Electric Company runs a dedicated circuit for residential EV chargers and adheres to local and national standards to prevent your charger being the source of any overheating. Residential EV chargers are equipped

What is "smart charging"?

Utility companies have moved toward a Time-of-Use model to help manage grid resources. EV owners can opt-in to a program with their utility provider (BGE and PEPCO both have programs in Maryland) and with a monthly service charge receive reduced rates for vehicle charging during off-peak hours. These programs use data from Smart Meters to assess usage and enable EV owners to charge their vehicles over-night for as low as $0.03/khw.

Where can I charge my electric vehicle?

Maryland and 7 other states have adopted the Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate which requires 300,000 vehicles and supporting charging infrastructure by 2025. Clinton Electric Company participates in the MDOT’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council to advise on strategy for deploying an increasing number of EVSE stations throughout the state. Many useful tools can help you find places to charge your vehicle including ChargePoint’s mobile app and the PlugShare map.

How far can you drive in an electric vehicle?

Small EV versions of the Honda Fit and Chevy Spark are able to drive upwards of 80 miles on a charge. Mid-tier models like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric achieve a range between 100 and 150 miles. The 200-mile threshold was once territory occupied only by Tesla, but Chevy’s Bolt is making extended range electric vehicle purchases affordable. Renault and Hyundai are moving into the club as well.

How far can you drive in an electric vehicle?

Charging times depend on the amount of electricity flowing through the charger and the size of the battery. The AC Level designation of the charger determines the output rate. You can fully charge most electric vehicles on a Level 2 charger overnight (8 hours or less). Level 1 chargers will take much longer to fully charge a vehicle and DC Fast chargers can get your car ready to hit the road trip in as little as 10 minutes.

Considering an EV Charging Station?

Call Us! Clinton Electric Company is a network channel partner of ChargePoint, the world’s largest network of electric vehicle charging stations. With the steady increase of electric cars throughout the Baltimore area, public charging stations are becoming a necessity.

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