I must admit that I was a little hesitant at the thought of switching my internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle for a fully electric one. It wasn’t range anxiety — I’m an organized person, so I knew I could anticipate and plan for my needed trip mileage accordingly. No, it was more that I was unsure how to charge an electric car, and, so, a big blank appeared every time I tried to envision what being independent with an electric car would look like.
Little did I know that charging an electric car was a lot like fueling my ICE, except it’s a lot cleaner, and I can do it from the convenience of my own home or even while shopping.
How to Charge at Home, Step-by-Step
I own a Nissan Leaf. It’s a great car! Lots of room inside for hauling construction materials for one of the house flips that I always seem to be doing. It’s fast, comfortable, quiet, and dependable. It has numerous features that appeal to me: backup camera, center console screen with navigation system, heated seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth phone pairing, and USB port for music.
The electric vehicle also comes equipped with box, cord, and plug —its Electric Vehicle Service Equipment.
Charging an electric car is quite simple, I now know. Follow these simple steps.
- Bring your EV to a stop close to the charger.
- Press “Park” and wait for the systems to shut down. You’ll see a display indicate that the charging port in unlocked.
- Exit the car and move to the charging port. It’s a lot like the gas tank door of an ICE.
- Lift open the door on the charging port.
- Go to the charging station, grab the plug at the end of the charging cable, and bring it over the the charging port.
- You’ll see a round opening inside the charging port. It fits into the charging plug exactly. Line it up and push the plug into this opening until it clicks. The click indicates that the connection has occurred successfully.
- A series of 4 small lights illuminate on the lower windshield of my Leaf. Each one indicates a percentage of full charge and blinks until that percentage is charged. When all 4 stop blinking, the electric car is fully charged.
Note: I can stop the charge at any time and get back on the road if I need to — I don’t necessarily have to wait for full charge to drive again. I just check the dash to see how many likely miles I can travel on the current charge.
Different Methods of Charging
- Some people charge their EVs at home by plugging into a regular wall outlet. This Level 1 charging is done through a 120-volt outlet, the standard household size. Most EVs come equipped with this capability. I thought it would be fine, but I learned quickly that this only adds about 4 miles of range per hour, meaning it would take over 2 days to recharge this way.
- So I had a licensed electrician install a fairly basic wall-mounted Level 2 home charger in my home’s carport. This Level 2 charging takes 240-volt service and is similar to adding a dryer plug., a licensed electrician Now I get about 20 miles per hour of range, which is generally fine for the length of trips I take in my Leaf.
- There are now charging stations at nearby malls, car dealers, even a local state park in my area. These locations usually feature Level 2 stations with a universal connector. I have loaded an app on my cell that tells me where nearby chargers are located. They work like my home charger for the most part — I just have to register my credit card before beginning to recharge.
Charging a Tesla at Home or on the Road
Tesla charging is proprietary — that means only Tesla chargers fit Teslas. Tesla offers its customers 3 home charging options —
- the Gen 2 Mobile Connector that comes standard with all new Teslas
- a hard-wired wall-mounted charger
- a Wall Connector that can be plugged into a standard NEMA 14–50 receptacle commonly used for electric stoves.
Tesla Superchargers are strategically distributed around North America (and the globe) to allow owners to drive between major cities and across their country. A Tesla Supercharger is a 480-volt DC fast-charging station built by Tesla for its all-electric cars and is available outside major metropolitan areas in a network of fast-charging stations.
But what happens when an owner is away from home and there isn’t a Supercharger nearby? Simply locate an EV charging station on your touchscreen, find your Tesla to J1772 charging adapter, and plug in. Tesla posted a YouTube video titled “Model S + X Guide| Public Charging” that aims to help new Tesla owners get up to speed on how to use public chargers that are outside of the Tesla network.
I’m one of those women who never had the opportunity to take shop in high school. Instead, I was delegated to female appropriate electives like home economics (“don’t ever put 3 menu items of the same color on a plate!”), typing, and steno. Okay, the last 2 do help me as a writer now, I admit, but the how-the-world-works kind of tasks continue to baffle me.
Charging an EV is no longer one of them. I’m glad that I didn’t let tension about charging an electric car keep me back from lessening my carbon footprint. Now I’ve significantly reduced the fossil fuels I use, which goes a long way in decreasing how much carbon is emitted into the air. No longer should an “impact of the unknown on the everyday” hold you back either as a potential EV owner from your first all-electric transportation purchase.
Let’s think about the words of Rabbi Joel N. Abraham of Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains, NJ who has called upon clergy to take up the cause to adopt EVs.
“For me, this is part of a larger picture. In Judaism, we read the creation story not as a license to do what we will with creation, but as a commandment to care for it; to engage with God in the act of creation by finishing the perfection of our world, which in Judaism, we call “tikkun olam.” EVs are one way to raise up the issue of climate change and fossil fuel emissions.”
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