Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet

Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet

Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet?

One question that everyone interested in the electric vehicle has in mind before going for one is ” Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet?”. The simple answer is it depends on several factors. Another person asked me “ can I plug Nissan leaf into a regular outlet?”  Well, I have a very lengthy and detailed answer to most of the questions you might have about charging your electric car including this one.

This is one of the many differences that electric cars and regular gas cars have. You can charge your vehicle anywhere, even in your home, any time. Yes, you can have an electric outlet for your car, your electric car.

Where else can you plug your EV into?

Electric cars are a recent development in the transport industry.  In fact, they are not more than 20 years old in the market.  This is why electric car charging stations are not as many as fuel stations. Nonetheless, their number is growing significantly. In both US and Europe, charging stations are now growing along the roads. You can find charging stations national wide map in plugshare.com.

Other than your home, you can also check if your employer could allow you to charge at the workplace. Some of the manufacturers are offering supercharging stations for their customers that are free to use. Tesla is one of them.

Can an electric car be plugged into a home electricity outlet?

Yes, they can.  However, there is one condition that has to be met, a dedicated circuit that can supply currents between 20 A and 100 A. It is not good to use a share circuit board for many electric appliances with your EV.

Two home charging equipment are available for use; level 1 and level 2 electric vehicle supply equipment.  The former is slower and cheap. It also uses a 120 V AC port. The latter uses a 240 v AC power supply. While it is faster and complex, it is also very costly.

The limited public charging facilities have been the bane of electric vehicle adoption for a long time. But this problem is no more. Whether you have a 110 v or 240 v outlet in your home, you will be able to charge your vehicle to capacity for your daily routine.

Is it safe to charge an EV from any regular point?

It depends on several factors. Let me explain. Newly installed sockets with wires rated 20 A which is connected to the outlet directly, then yes, it is safe.

If an outlet is rate 25 A or even better 32 A and was designed to supply continuous load, the answer is yes, it is safe to charge your EV at that regular point.

If the wiring at your house is of an unknown power rating, using it to charge your vehicle could cause serious problems. There is a possibility the power from such cable is shared by other appliances in the house such as fridge, driers among others. Worse still, the cables could be connected erroneously and cause a fire.

Shared power means there is a circuit breaker or a fuse. This can interrupt power flow and leave your vehicle uncharged overnight.

So, do you understand you can plug a Nissan leaf into a regular outlet so long as you are sure of wiring.  This also goes for any other electric car.

Cost of charging at home:Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet

In the US, Europe, and other developed countries, the cost of electricity is lower than in the rest of the world. This is why when it comes to fuel, the operational cost of an electric vehicle is lower than that of a conventional vehicle.  In the US alone, 1 kWh costs only 12.6 cents. Some of the reviews indicate that the electric cost of a 100-mile range vehicle is equal to that of an air conditioner working for six hours. That is very cheap. The cost is even less if you have a hybrid vehicle since its batteries are smaller.

One of the most renowned vehicle producers in the United States estimates that the average total energy used by one of the brands in the market, Chevy Volt, is approximately 2520 kWh. So, the cost of operating such a vehicle would be approximately $ 300.  On average, gasoline vehicles cost a little over $ 1500 p.a to operate in the US.  You may have noticed that the fuel cost in the US has been increasing over the last decade from $ 1.50 to now $ 4.0. So, you may have to pay even less if you charge your vehicle at night or if you enjoy off-peak rates.

What equipment do you need to charge your EV at home?

Before we jump into the equipment that you will require to start charging your electric vehicle at home, let us take a look at why it is important to charge at home in the first place.

   i.  Why charging an electric car at your home is important?

In the US, homes are supplied with 110 v outlets while in Europe you will find mostly 240 v outlets. Indeed, the manufacturers, as well as the government, make effort to ensure that there are more charging stations available for EV owners all over the country.  However, the charging stations are not that easy to come by. You may have to travel some distance to get access to one.

So, before charging stations are made available for your convenience, it would be nice if you can charge your EV at your home. With a friend’s permission, you can charge at their place as well.

Charging at home reduces the trouble of having an empty battery before reaching your destination. You will not have to get stress over the location of the next charging station because you will have enough power to take you to your place of work and back.  Furthermore, you do have to worry about the possibility of long queues.

Charging at home keeps your battery warm during the cold seasons which is good when it comes to maintaining the range. At your home, you can choose to use the standard charger which is slow but good for lengthening the battery life.

    ii. Equipment to charge at home

In this section, I will cover extensively the electric outlet requirements as well as the equipment that you will need to charge at home. Installing an electric charging station at home is very cheap so long as there is not need to upgrade from 110 V to 240 v power supply.

In your home, you can either use a level 1 EVSE (or electric vehicle supply equipment in full) or a level 2 EVSE. What is the difference between level 1 EVSE and level 2 EVSE?  The difference between level 1 EVSE and level 2 EVSE is their complexity.

Level 1 is relatively simple while level 2 EVSE is quite complex.  While the latter, level 2 EVSE, is more complex, it charges your vehicle faster than LEVEL 1 EVSE. It is more convenient. However, it is more expensive and needs a piece of special equipment during installation.  The other difference between the two is that level 1 EVSE uses a 120 v AC outlet while level 2 EVSE uses a 240 v AC outlet.

Whatever type of EVSE you use, ensure it is securely fixed on the outlet to minimize damages. Observe any additional safety and maintenance measures recommended by the manufacturers.

                                                                                                                                                                    iii.            Caution!!!

While this information in this article is accurate for the current models in the market today, ensure you consult with the manufacturers first for more information about the electric outlet requirement for your model.

Electric outlets for EVs may vary depending on the manufacturer and the model. So, before installing an electric charging station at home, ensure you have the necessary information about all the requirements.

     iv.   Using level 1 EVSE system

As I had mentioned before, level 1 EVSE is very simple and annoyingly slow. For every hour you spend on the charging station, you will only be able to add 2-5 miles of range. The level 1 EVSE system charges through a 120 V outlet AC port. Since it so slow, it very good when charging at home when you do need to use your vehicle any time soon. It is very suitable for hybrid vehicles.

It does not require anything special other than a dedicated branch circuit on the outlet. Why a dedicated branch circuit? An electric vehicle requires high current to charge, higher than the normal household fuse can handle. The fuse will blow or the circuit breaker will break the circuit and stop your vehicle from charging. That is why

Almost all newly developed models of EV will come with a portable level 1 EVSE code.  It is uniquely designed such that it has J1772 connect for the vehicle. The other end is a 3-pong household plug.

             v. Level 2 EVSE

I had stated before that this system is faster and a bit complex compared to level 1 EVSE in addition to using a 240 V AC outlet. For every hour you spend on the charging station using level 2 EVSE, you will add your range by 10 – 60 miles.  This is why you will need one after you buy yourself an EV.  A 240 v outlet for electric car is also referred to as level 2 EVSE.

Just as it was necessary to have a dedicated circuit branch for level 1 EVSE, it is also necessary for a level 2 EVSE capable of supplying 20 A to 100 A of current. In Europe, every power outlet is between 220 V and 240 v so you do not have to worry. In the US, there are 240 v outlets for appliances, so US residents do not have to worry either.

How much does a level 2 EVSE cost?  Be ready to part with $ 500 for the cheapest or $ 2000 for the most expensive one. This is before it is installed. In the US, some states offer an incentive so it can be relatively cheap there.

The risks of installing a level 2 EVSE system are very low. You will need to worry no more about it than you worry about other appliances such as driers. EVSE is designed for indoor use only. If you want it outside you will need to go for the outdoor rate EVSE.

Types of level 2 EVSE charging system

Manufacturers have availed so many varieties of level 2 EVSE equipment.  There those that are simple and features only standard characteristics such as status light.  You can also go for those that feature enhanced attributes such as keypads, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity, and timers. Those with Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity enable you to connect to your phone so that you may monitor your vehicle, or even stop or start charging.

Whatever variety you go for, make sure it has been certified by one or more quality assurance bodies in your country.

Caution!!

During an EVSE installation ensure you comply with all the codes and regulations as required by your state or country. This endeavor could be very expensive if your home does not have a 240 v outlet service since an upgrade would be necessary.

Both level 1 and level 2 EVSE are designed to endure harsh conditions such as being stepped over by your car. However, it will be wise of you to keep your car from contacting the EVSE wall unit.

Charging safety tips: Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet

I have compiled a list of activities you ought to either  adhere to or avoid completely for your safety. While EVSE is no more dangerous than any other high current appliance in your home, you have to  be very cautious all the time. So, Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet?

     i.  Do not use extension cables or plugs

High  current flow is needed to charge your EV, as high as 100 A.  There are limited extension cables whose insulation is designed to handle that kind of power. The cable itself may even overheat because of high resistance and cause a fire.

The length of your EVSE should sufficiently cover the distance between the wall unit and where your vehicle is located. If that is not the case, change the location of your wall unit or your vehicle location to conveniently reduce the distance between the two.

           ii.            Avoid using an adaptor

There is a reason the manufacturers emphasize on a dedicated circuit branch is to be used; it ensures your EVSE connects directly to your EV. So, items such as a double plug, travel plugs, or any type of plug should never come between the EVSE and your vehicle.

          iii.     Use certified EVSE only

If the manufacturer offers you only a level 1 EVSE, you can buy yourself a level 2 EVSE. However, you should buy those that are certified by quality assurance bodies in your state or country. Poor quality EVSE means a short lifespan for your battery and charging system. Be very careful.

     iv.     Check for damages regularly

Installing an electric charging station at home is very convenient but it requires you to do one or two things that could have been done by the manufacturer or the dealer.  One of those things is checking for damages on your EVSE and the outlet.

Plugging in and out your 3-prong on the wall could loosen the socket or the pins themselves.  Loose connection causes sparking and sometimes overheating.  This is dangerous for your home.  So, once you note a loose pin or socket, replace them soonest possible.

     v.   Avoid do it yourself installation

Unless you are a qualified and certified electrician, do not install the wall unit for the EVSE on your own. Look for a certified electrician who can do it for you safely. 240 v required for the level 2 EVSE is dangerous; it can electrocute you or cause a fire in your home.

Even if you watch it on YouTube or read an article on how to do it, look for a qualified person to do it for you. The risks are very high. It may cost your life, your car or your house and sometimes all of them.

Read more on Do Tesla cars need oil change?

Final thought: Can you Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet

Now, can you Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet? It depends on wiring and whether it is a dedicated circuit branch. Such a dedicated branch is capable of providing enough current to power your vehicle. furthermore, you do not want you car to stop charging because if a blown fuse or a dropped circuit breaker.

 

 

 

 

 

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