2019 Guide On How To Charge Your Electric Car With Charging Stations

Electric cars (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles are relatively new on the market and the fact that they use electricity to propel themselves means a new infrastructure has been put into place, one which few are familiar with. This is why we have created this useful guide to explain and clarify the different charging solutions used to charge an electric car.

In this EV charging guide, you’ll learn more about the 3 places where it’s possible to charge, the 3 different levels of charging available in North America, fast charging with superchargers, charging times, and connectors. You’ll also discover an essential tool for public charging, and useful links to answer all of your questions.

Before we get into those concepts, it is good to know the various terms used for charging stations. They usually all refer to the same thing.

  • Charging station
  • Charging outlet
  • Charging plug
  • Charging port
  • Charger
  • EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)



Electric Car Home Chargers

Charging an electric car or plug-in hybrid is mainly done at home.Home charging accounts actually for 80% of all charging done by EV drivers. This is why it’s important to understand the solutions available, along with the pros of each.

Home Charging Solutions: Level 1 & Level 2

There are two types of home charging: level 1 charging and level 2 charging.

  • Level 1 charging happens when you charge an electric vehicle (EV) using the charger included with the car. These chargers can be plugged with one end into any standard 120V outlet, with the other end being plugged directly into the car. It can charge 200 kilometers (124 miles) in 20 hours.
  • Level 2 chargers are sold separately from the car, although they’re often purchased at the same time. These chargers require a slightly more complicated setup, as they are plugged into a 240V outlet which allows charging 3 to 7 times faster depending on the electric car and the charger. All of these chargers have an SAE J1772 connector and are available for online purchase in Canada and the USA. They usually have to be installed by an electrician. You can learn more about level 2 charging stations in this guide.
Level 2 home charging station and charger for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles, SAE J1772 connector or plug

For every electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, the use of a level 2 home charging station is recommended to help you charge faster and enjoy your EV’s full potential. Provincial and municipal incentives are available in some regions to help with purchase and installation costs. You can also check the following websites for more information.


The pros of home charging

To enjoy all the benefits of charging at home, you need to use a level 2 home charger.

A fully charged battery in a few hours

A level 2 charger allows you to charge your electric car 5 to 7 times faster for a full-electric car or up to 3 times faster for a plug-in hybrid compared to a level 1 charger. This means you’ll be able to maximize the use of your EV and reduce stops to charge at public charging stations.

It takes around four hours to fully charge a 30-kWh battery car (standard battery for an electric car), which allows you to make the most out of driving your EV, especially when you have a limited time to charge.

Start Your Day Fully Charged

Home charging is normally done on evenings and at night. Just connect your charger to your electric car when you come home from work, and you’ll be sure to have a fully charged battery the next morning. Most of the time, an EV’s range is enough for all your daily travel, meaning you won’t have to stop at public chargers for charging. At home, your electric car charges while you eat, play with the kids, watch TV, and sleep!

Save Big on Charging Costs

Another advantage of home charging is the low cost of residential electricity compared to the cost of public charging stations and the cost of gas.

  • In Quebec, it is about 30% less expensive to charge at home than at a public charger and 6 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In Ontario, it is roughly 65% less expensive to charge at home than at a public charger and 5 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In British Columbia, it is roughly 30% cheaper to charge at home than at a public charger and 5 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In the United States, it all depends on the price of electricity and gas. You have to compare the consumption of electricity in kWh/100 miles of the EV multiplied by the cost of the kWh vs. the consumption of gallons/100 miles of the gas car multiplied by the price of a gallon of gas. That way, you will be able to quickly know how much you could save on your travel costs.



Electric Car Public Charging Stations

Public charging allows EV drivers to charge their electric cars on the road when they need to travel longer distances than allowed by their EV’s autonomy. These public chargers are often located near restaurants, shopping centers, parking spots, and such public spaces.

To locate them easily, we suggest you use ChargeHub’s charging stations map that is available on iOS, Android, and web browsers. The map lets you easily find every public charger in North America. You can also see most chargers’ status in real time, make itineraries, and more. We’ll be using our map in this guide to explain how the public charging works.

There are three main things to know about public charging: the 3 different levels of charging, the difference between connectors and the charging networks.



Which Levels of Charging Are Available for Public Charging?

There are 3 standard charging levels used to charge electric cars. All electric cars can be charged with level 1 and level 2 stations. These types of chargers offer the same charging power as the ones you can install at home. Level 3 chargers - also called DCFC or fast charging stations - are much more powerful than level 1 and 2 stations, meaning you can charge an EV much faster with them. that being said, some vehicles cannot charge at level 3 chargers. Knowing your vehicle’s capabilities is therefore very important.

Charging Level Summary

Level Power (kW) Approximate Charging Time (Empty Battery)
1 1 200 km (124 miles): +/- 20 hours
400 km (249 miles): +/- 43 hours
2 3 to 20, typically 6 200 km (124 miles): +/- 5 hours
400 km (249 miles): +/- 11 hours
3 (BRCC) Typically 50, occasionaly 20 80% of 200 km (124 miles): +/- 30 min
80% of 400 km (249 miles): +/- 1 hour
Level 1 charging stations and chargers for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles, SAE J1772, connector, CHAdeMO, SAE Combo CCS

Level 1 Public Chargers

Level 1 is the standard wall outlet of 120 volts. It is the slowest charge level and requires tens of hours to fully charge a 100% electric vehicle and several hours for a plug-in hybrid.

Level 2 charging stations and chargers for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles, SAE J1772, connector, CHAdeMO, SAE Combo CCS

Level 2 Public Chargers

Level 2 is the typical EV plug found in homes and garages. Most public charging stations are level 2. RV plugs (14-50) are also considered level 2 chargers.

Level 3 fast charging/BCFC charging stations and chargers for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles, SAE J1772, connector, CHAdeMO, SAE Combo CCS

Level 3 Public Chargers

Lastly, some public stations are level 3 chargers, also known as DCFC or DC Fast Chargers. These charging stations are the quickest way to charge a vehicle. Note that not every EV can charge at level 3 chargers.

Choosing the Right Level of Public Charging for Your Electric Car

First of all, we recommend you avoid level 1 charging stations. They are too slow and are not adapted to EV drivers’ needs when they’re traveling. If you want to charge in the fastest way possible, you should use a level 3 charger, as these charging stations will provide a lot of range to your EV in a short amount of time. However, charging at a DCFC station is only effective if your battery’s state-of-charge (SOC) is below 80%. After that point, charging will slow down significantly. Therefore, once you reach 80% of charging, you should plug your car into a level 2 charger, since the last 20% of charging are as fast with a level 2 station than a level 3, but it is way cheaper. You can also continue your journey and charge your EV back to 80% at the next level 3 charger you meet on the road. If time is not a constraint and you’re planning to stop several hours at a charger, you should opt for a level 2 which is slower but less expensive.



Which Connectors Are Available for Public Charging?

Level 1 and 2 Connectors

The most common connector is the SAE J1772 EV plug. All electric cars in Canada and in the US can charge using this plug, even Tesla cars as they come with an adapter. The J1772 connector is only available for level 1 and 2 charging.

Level 3 Connectors

For fast charging, the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo (also called CCS for “Combo Charging System”) are the most used connectors by electric cars manufacturers.

These two connectors are not interchangeable, meaning a car with a CHAdeMO port cannot charge using an SAE Combo plug and vice versa. It’s kind of like a gas vehicle that can’t fill up at a diesel pump.

The third important connector is the one used by Teslas. That connector is used on level 2 and level 3 Supercharger Tesla charging stations and are only compatible with Tesla cars.


Connector types

J1772 connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: Port J1772

Level: 2

Compatibility: 100% of electric cars

Tesla: With adapter

CHAdeMO connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: CHAdeMO

Level: 3

Compatibility: Check specifications of your EV

Tesla: With adapter

J1772 connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: SAE Combo CCS

Level: 3

Compatibility: Check specifications of your EV

Tesla: No

Tesla HPWC connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: Tesla HPWC

Level: 2

Compatibility: Only Tesla

Tesla: Yes

Tesla Supercharger connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: Tesla supercharger

Level: 3

Compatibility: Only Tesla

Tesla: Yes

Wall Plugs

Nema 515 connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Wall Plug: Nema 515, Nema 520

Level: 1

Compatibility: 100% of electric cars, Charger is required

Nema 1450 (RV plug) connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: Nema 1450 (RV plug)

Level: 2

Compatibility: 100% of electric cars, Charger is required

Nema 6-50 connector or plug for charging stations and chargers networks for for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Connector: Nema 6-50

Level: 2

Compatibility: 100% of electric cars, Charger is required

Before driving to a charging station, it is important to know if your vehicle is compatible with the connectors available. This is especially important for non-Tesla DCFC stations. Some may have just a CHAdeMO connector, others just an SAE Combo CCS connector, and others will have both. Also, some vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt - a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is not compatible for Level 3 stations. Make sure you know your vehicle compatibilities before planning a trip. With our charging map, you will be able to apply the right filters to only show chargers compatible with your electric car.



Electric Car Charging Station Network Operators

To be able to properly use public chargers, you’ll have to learn which charging networks are available in your area. There are many different public charger operators across Canada and the United States. Most of them are specific to certain areas, but there can be several of them in the same area. There are two categories of station network operators:

Networked Smart Charging Stations

To use a networked charger, also known as smart public charging stations or connected stations, you must subscribe to the network. In most cases, registration is free and fees only apply when you use of their chargers, although some of them can be used free of charge. You’ll need the RFID card or the mobile app of the network to activate and use the charger. SemaConnect stations can be activated directly from the ChargeHub app without any subscription needed.

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by ChargePoint

ChargePoint

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Blink

Blink (CarCharging)

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by SemaConnect / SemaCharge

SemaConnect / SemaCharge

Membership Required

Activate and pay directly from the ChargeHub app

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by NRG eVgo

EVgo

Membership Required

USA

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Electrify America / Electrify Canada

Electrify America / Electrify Canada

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Aerovironment

Webasto (Formerly Aerovironment)

Membership Required

USA

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Greenlots

Greenlots

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by FLO

FLO

Membership Required

Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by ZEF Energy

ZEF Energy

Membership Required

USA

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by OP Connect

OP Connect

Membership Required

USA

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by GE WattStation

GE WattStation

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Circuit Électrique

Circuit Électrique

Membership Required

Quebec, Ontario

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by myEVroute

myEVroute

Membership Required

Ontario

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Tesla

Tesla (Superchargers & Destination)

Membership not required, but limited to Tesla vehicles

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by EVduty

EVduty

Some EVduty chargers require membership while others do not

Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by eCharge

eCharge

Membership Required

New Brunswick

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Sun Country Highway

Sun Country Highway

No Membership Required

USA + Canada

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Volta

Volta

No Membership Required

USA

Level 1, 2, 3 charging stations and chargers networks for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles operated by Astria

Astria

Membership Required

USA + Canada

Independent Public Charging Stations

Independent public chargers are installed by local businesses or by individuals who want to make charging available on their property. It’s not necessary to be a member of a network to use those chargers. Some conditions may apply to some of them.



Charging an Electric Car at Work

Workplace charging works very similarly to home charging. It is offered by an employer to their employees. The employees therefore have access to parking spaces with level 2 or level 1 charging stations during the day. Depending on your habits, charging at work could provide enough power for all of your travels.

The pros of workplace charging

A longer electric range

When combined with home charging, workplace charging can double your daily electric range. This is particularly interesting for plug-in hybrids, as you can use the electric motor for longer distances and therefore save money on fuel.

Level 2 charging allows you to charge faster, which is particularly interesting for part-time employees or for workplaces where employees are not in for the entire day.

Large Savings on Transportation Costs

The electricity costs of workplaces charging are often taken on by the employer, which means employees can charge at work for free. In other cases, the employer charges fees to use the charger, but the cost is usually lower than charging at a public charger.

Government Incentives for Workplace Chargers

In order to encourage employers to install charging stations for their employees, many governments have put in place programs that reduce purchasing and installation costs, as well as different advantages for the employer. However, many employers are unaware of the existence of these programs, and it falls on the shoulders of interested employees to talk to them about it.


Now that you are more familiar with all types of charging for an electric car or plug-in hybrid, we suggest you read our guide on how to choose your level 2 home charger. Since 80% of your charging will be done at home, it’s really important to choose a charging station that answers your needs.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHARGER?