If you’ve ever driven an electric vehicle (EV), you’ll know that the experience is remarkably similar to driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. However, replenishing the energy an ICE and EV use turns out to be as different as day and night.
While there are some key differences between refueling an ICE vehicle and charging an EV, they are more similar than you might think. If you’re researching EVs, you’ll often see references to how long it takes to charge an electric car. For most people, charging an electric car is about as painless as charging your phone.
To educate consumers, here are five myths about electric vehicle charging and the truth behind each.
Myth #1: Charging EV takes too long
The most common misconception about charging EVs is that it takes too long. While it’s true that an empty electric vehicle plugged into a standard 110-volt household outlet can easily take 48 hours or more to fully charge, few EV drivers will ever find themselves in this situation.
Many new EV models on sale today have a range of over 200 miles on a single charge; some can go over 300 miles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average U.S. driver only travels 29 miles a day, which could mean charging your EV only once a week if you treat it like a gasoline vehicle. In reality, if you had an EV, you would probably “top up” the battery on a daily basis instead of fully charging it every day.
If you’re charging at home, the fastest way to top up your EV’s battery is with a Level 2 home charger. Many new EV buyers choose to purchase a home charger when purchasing their vehicle. The dealer can even help arrange the installation. Once you have a home charger, it drastically reduces the time it takes to charge your EV compared to charging at 110 volts. While charging times vary, many EVs can be fully charged with a Level 2 home charger in 10 hours or less while you sleep.
If you can’t charge your EV at home, there are two main public charging options: Level 2 and DC fast charging. Many EVs can charge hundreds of miles in 20-30 minutes using a DC fast charger. However, keep in mind that the efficiency of charging depends on the vehicle and the capacity of the charger. In comparison, Level 2 public charging is slower. It is best suited for situations where your car is stationary for an extended period of time (such as watching a movie, dining out, staying at a hotel, or at work).
Myth #2: There’s nowhere to charge
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are nearly 50,000 public electric vehicle charging stations in the United States. While that may sound like a lot, these stations don’t have the same levels of accessibility or speed at which they can charge an EV.
EVgo, one of the companies that maintains a network of public chargers, claims that more than 130 million people in the US have access to one of the company’s fast chargers within a 10-mile radius of their home. EVgo operates more than 850 public fast charging stations.
The largest EV charging network is ChargePoint, which operates 30,000 Level 2 and DC fast charging stations nationwide. In addition, Tesla has nearly 8,000 fast charging stations for its owners, and Electrify America has more than 750.
Finding a public charging station may seem daunting because they are not as numerous or visible as traditional gas stations. Still, downloading an app to your smartphone can help you find public EV chargers and determine if they’re operational and available. You can also find the EPA’s growing list of public stations on her website.
Myth #3: Charging costs too much
The Idaho National Lab calculated that the cost of operating an electric vehicle is almost always lower than a gas-powered vehicle, except in the case of a particularly inefficient EV, a hyper-efficient gas car, or cheap gasoline and expensive electricity.
Sometimes charging your EV on a public charger is free. Other times, payment is required, which often means using a network operator’s credit card or app. The amount you pay to charge your EV varies widely in the US
According to the EPA, the cost to drive 25 miles in a 2022 Toyota Prius at “current fuel prices” is $2.34. To cover the same distance in a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV costs 91 cents. Also, remember that EVs require less maintenance than ICE vehicles, saving you even more money.
Myth #4: Charging an EV is worse for the environment than burning gas
Some believe that electric cars are worse for the environment than gas-powered cars because of the pollution caused by the power plants when they produce electricity. While this may be true in some cases, the EPA clearly states that, even after taking electricity emissions into account, EVs are “usually responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average new gasoline car.”
To understand the level of emissions your new EV can produce, you can use the EPA’s “Beyond Tailpipe Emissions Calculator.” This online tool allows you to compare the emissions of a new EV with those of an average new petrol vehicle. For example, the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning produces 200 grams of CO2 per mile when charged with the normal US electricity mix, while the average new gasoline vehicle emits 410 grams per mile.
Myth #5: The grid cannot handle all our electric vehicles
With brownouts already commonplace in the US during peak electricity usage, it may seem impossible to add the charging load of millions of EVs to the grid. The reality, however, is that the network will be robust enough to house 24 million EVs through 2028, according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). There are currently between 3 and 4 million EVs on US roads, so the bandwidth exists.
While EVs undoubtedly draw power from the grid, the new generation of electric vehicles can also help provide power in an emergency. A fully charged EV battery, with the right connections, can power the average American home for many days, depending on the size of the battery.
Moving to electric vehicles means making many changes and learning new ways to power our cars. But knowing the facts and fiction about EVs can help you make a more informed purchase decision.