Here’s How Charging Electric Cars Work

Electric vehicles have become very popular in recent years and now consumers have more choices than perhaps ever before. Just a few decades ago, folks looking to buy an electric vehicle had only a few choices in terms of both brands and body styles. Now, most major car brands are selling electric vehicles, and whereas small cars were once the only option, consumers can find electric SUVs and trucks.

Electric vehicles can help drivers save money when it comes time to fuel up. An electric car can go a long distance on a single charge and charging the battery also typically costs less than filling up a fuel tank that offers a similar range. That said, it’s important for EV owners to make sure that they have access to an electric vehicle charging port. Otherwise, it may not be possible to charge the vehicle.

The Basics of How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work

Most electric vehicles today use lithium-ion batteries, or li-ion batteries for short. A relatively new technology, these batteries marked a major breakthrough not just for electric cars, but also consumer electronics in general. Lithium-ion batteries offer a much larger capacity than some older technologies, and perhaps even more importantly, they are easily rechargeable.

In the past, many devices relied on disposable batteries. Once the battery lost its charge, you’d toss out the batteries, creating waste. Even a small device, like a CD player, might last for only a few hours on such disposable batteries. Obviously, for applications like electric vehicles, disposable batteries were pretty much unfeasible. Li-ion batteries changed the game.

The actual science behind lithium-ion batteries is very complex, but you can think of them as small fuel tanks. Only, instead of storing gasoline, they store electricity. When you charge the battery, you put energy in the tank, which makes the lithium-ion particles move from one side of the box to the other. Then, when you use the battery to power your car, the lithium ions move back to where they started, thus releasing the stored energy.

Of course, to get power, you need to first put energy into the battery.

Is it Possible to Charge Electric Vehicles at Home?

Where there’s an electrical current, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to charge lithium-ion batteries. However, it’s not always possible to charge batteries. First, you’ll need cords that will connect to the vehicle or other device. Second, in some cases, you may need specific voltages to charge a device. It’s often not possible to charge a laptop, for example, with a smartphone charger, because the smartphone charger won’t provide enough energy.

Fortunately, with electric vehicles, it’s often possible to charge them at home with a standard 110-volt plug. This plug is the most common outlet in most American houses. Your TV, lamps, and other household items are likely plugged into 110-volt outlets.

With many electric vehicles, it’s possible to use both a 110-volt and 240-volt outlet. However, there is a major caveat: a 240-volt outlet will typically be able to charge an electric vehicle much more quickly than a 110-volt outlet. For this reason, many electric vehicle owners set up 240-volt outlets specifically to charge their cars and trucks.

Still, if a car owner is in a pinch or setting up a 240-volt outlet simply isn’t possible, a 110-volt plug will still provide juice. It’s smart to plan ahead and to set aside as much time to charge the vehicle as possible. With a 110-volt plug, it’s wise to charge vehicles overnight. Yet even if you give a vehicle all night to charge, it may still not be fully charged come the morning.

Ultimately, if you’re considering getting an electric vehicle, charging needs to be a chief consideration. While more charging stations are popping up, they are still relatively rare and slow compared to a traditional gas station.

Charging your vehicle at an EV charging station may also cost more money than doing so at home. Certainly, it’s more of an inconvenience. In the long run, it’s often better to set up a charging station on your property. However, this may not be possible in all situations, especially if you want to use a 240-volt system.