How to Use a Charging Station - 5 Helpful Tips

"If something is important enough, you do it even though the odds aren't in your favor.”

~Elon Musk


Feeling the Buzz?

Does an electric vehicle (EV) seem like a good fit for you? Living the lifestyle is fun and exciting, good for our environment. But there may be somethings you may not completely understand, like how a charging station works.

This post will demystify how they work, which by the way is super easy, with helpful tips like where you can recharge your vehicle while out on your adventures.  Home charging stations aren't always convenient so you need to have peace of mind while out on the road.

Even though this post is about the physical charging of your vehicle I know that you will most likely will want to know how much it costs to run an EV, it's an extremely popular question. (hint: not very much!) 

How much you pay for electricity to run your EV can vary widely. It depends on how much electricity costs per kW in your area and how much you drive but the range is between $30 - $60/month.

Saving money and reduced your emissions are well-known benefits of driving an electric vehicle, so lets turn our focus to five tips that will help you find a public charging station and how to optimize your rides charge.

1. Dude, Where’s My Charger?

A variety of resources exist to help drivers identify where they can easily and safely stop for recharging. As an example, apps like Open Charge Map and ChargeHub from the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center offer station locator maps to help people locate chargers while on the road.

To make planning routes based on charging stations easier to use most automakers now offer standard technology that increases the intuitiveness of the driving experience with in-vehicle linked entertainment/information systems and heads up displays.  These features allows you to focus on enjoying the driving experience and eliminates the concern of running out of a charge in the 'middle of nowhere.'

Independent charging companies of course also offer apps for locating charging stations. As an example , the largest ultra-fast-charging network in the U.S., Electrify America, redesigned their app so motorists can easily get the information they need to navigate to the next station.

You can download their app via the Google Play or App Store – with this app drivers can locate a charger, start/stop charging, and view their charging plan details via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

2. Why Understanding Why State of Charge (SOC) is Important?

There is a wide range of different electric vehicles on the market, with varying battery sizes. These differences both affect how fast they can be charged and what total energy capacity each one has available for charging. Make sure you know your vehicle's maximum power before plugging it in - Check your manual or consult your mechanic!

Although it may seem contrary to intuition or to common-sense but it's better to reduce the time spent charging a battery from 80% to 100% SOC. This will mitigate the natural and inevitably normal wear and aging that occurs from charging to 100% SOC.

To avoid the battery getting "fatigued", (i.e., can no longer be fully charged after prolonged use), fast public chargers slowdown the dispersion speed of the energy entering the EV’s battery when it reaches 80% SOC.

This preventive maintenance step is easy to remember because it saves you time and extends life of the battery life.

3. Getting Connected

Combined Charging System (CCS) is the most popular connector used by electric vehicle makers but of course you should check your vehicle's specific settings in your owner’s manual.

CCC combines two connectors into one plug. The plug includes the connector for DC fast-charging, and the connector for Level 2 charging.  As noted above Level 2 is a form of electric vehicle charging with slower charging speeds than DC fast.

4. Fast Charge

Not all EV charging sessions are the same, and your charge time will vary depending on a few factors.

The first of these being How efficiently the charging station dispenses electricity and how much electricity your vehicles battery can handle.

A key to understand is that a charger’s power is quantified in kilowatts and charging time is quantified in kilowatt-hours, which is a unit of energy that an energy charger is capable of delivering in one hour

Some Like It Fast

Fast Chargers - As their name suggests, allows quicker charge times. Direct current (DC) fast-charging, employs technology that provides between 150kW to 350kW to vehicles capable of receiving the electrical feed.

Fast chargers are particularly useful for motorists on road trip with no overnight charging available. Drivers can get their EV charged with as much energy as possible and efficiently as possible.  Companies like Electrify America offer the fastest charging rates available - with speeds up to 350 kilowatts (kW) - that can charge a capable vehicle in as little as 20 minutes.

For charging around town like at offices buildings, apartment complexes and hotels there are often public chargers that dispense as low as 6kW (Level 2 Charger) but are an acceptable option for those who have the time or their EV can’t handle the higher kW.

5. How Does Weather Affect Charging?

Although its fine to charge whenever you need to but always try to allow more charging time if the weather is either extremely hot or cold.

Temperatures of between 60-80°F is the range that EV’s batteries are designed to deliver their maximum charging capacity at.

However, at extreme temperatures (below 40°F or above 115°F) the chemical process contained inside the battery slows down, often to less than half of its peak charging capacity.

Plug & Play

The benefits of electric vehicle technology are well known and is quickly becoming the form of transportation of the future.

Adopting the EV lifestyle involves incorporating the fundamental tips outlined in this post.  Develop the habits that will most efficiently and effectively charge your vehicle.

By understanding how charging works removes any fear or concern about owning am electric vehicle. A little before hand knowledge will help make the transition for new drivers to electric vehicles as sooth as possible - and perhaps influence others make the switch as well. 

Electric cars are cars.


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BTW

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~ Better Living Through Better Choices.