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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 online. 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. The most common source of fire from an EV charger is related to undersized or outdated electrical wiring.  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.  Within residential EV chargers are built-in mechanisms for monitoring and regulated the flow of power, the connection to ground and temperature specifically designed to minimize these risks.

GM identified a problem in 2021 with their Lithium-ion batteries produced at a specific South Korean plant for the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona which were indicated as the source for 12 vehicle fires.  A recall has been issued and owners were advised to park their cars outside until the batteries can be replaced.  Consumer concern for battery safety is top-of-mind for auto makers.  Battery technology continues to evolve with many manufacturers bringing battery manufacturing in-house to gain more control over product safety and reliability, and several are moving to solid-state battery cells which will essentially eliminate this risk.

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. Tritium has  partnered with Greenlots and Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) on a series of charging locations throughout Central Maryland with Tritium RT50 direct current (DC) fast chargers installed at libraries, government parking lots, airports, and retail centers.  Many useful tools can help you find places to charge your vehicle including ChargePoint’s mobile app and the PlugShare map. Google has added Electric Vehicle settings to their maps that you can customize to your vehicle to help you find a station when you need it, or to plan your road trip.

How far can you drive in an electric vehicle?

In 2010 Nissan introduced the Leaf with a range of 84 miles on a charge.  Tesla roadsters were the only electric vehicles available at that time that could run for more than 200 miles at a clip.  Ten years later, the Nissan Leaf has a range of 226 miles.  As battery and charging technology continues to improve, 200 miles has become the floor rather than the ceiling.  Over 50 different models of EV are in production in 2022, with top-of-the-line cars surpassing 300 miles per charge.  Many large employers are adding EV charging as an employee benefit to attract and retain top-talent.  But, since the average American drives 40 miles round-trip each day, a Level-2 a-home charger is usually sufficient to keep an electric vehicle topped up and ready to roll with an overnight charge. In 2022 the Lucid Air Dream has an EPA estimated range of 520 miles. 

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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