Charging your EV at home and on-the-go is easy.
Most EV drivers charge at home, which we’ll show you how to set up. For travelers and people who live in multi-unit housing, public charging is available - more than many people think - and more are being built all the time! No matter how you charge, it’s never been a better time to drive an EV.
Range and charging speed
There are five things you should know about range and charging: three that impact how far you can go in your electric vehicle (EV) and two that impact how quickly you can charge.
What impacts how far I can go?
- The battery: EV battery size is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The more kWh capacity your car’s battery has, the farther you can go between charges.
- The efficiency: Different EV models drive a different number of miles for every kWh of battery capacity. The vehicle’s battery size and efficiency together determine its range, along with driving conditions.
- The weather: The temperature and weather conditions will impact your EV's range (the colder it gets, the shorter the range), but EVs can handle whatever a New England winter can throw at them. The EPA's rating on miles per charge is a good number for a year-round basis. Most of the year, you will get more than the rating. Learn more on our Winter Driving page.
What impacts how fast I can charge?
- The onboard charger: Your car will have an onboard charger. Its capacity, measured in kilowatts (kW), affects your charging speed. The more kW, the faster the charge!
- The charging level: There are three levels of EV charging. In increasing level of speed, they are: Level I, Level II, and DC Fast Charging.
Here are 10 tips for boosting your electric car's range from fleetcarma.
Although charging an EV is a bit different from refueling a conventional vehicle, choosing to drive a BEV or PHEV does not require a substantial change in lifestyle. There is a variety of electric sedans, SUVs, and even mini-vans to help reduce your gasoline-use without compromising your space or performance, and there are more options every year. That means you can commute, go to the grocery store, and travel just like you always have, while dramatically reducing your carbon emissions.
The biggest change you’ll experience when you drive electric? You’ll make fewer trips to the gas station, if you need to go at all. Charging your all-electric or plug-in hybrid car at home is as easy as charging your cell phone. Just plug it in overnight or when you get home, and you’ll have it fully-charged and ready to go in the morning – it’s more convenient than stopping to refuel at the gas station. When you are away from home, you may learn that there more charging stations than you are aware of now. Furthermore, National Grid and Eversource will be building many more over the next five years. A major fine levied on Volkswagen is also going to help pay for many new charging stations. Overall, charging is easier than you might think now and it will get easier.
There are three levels of charging available for EVs today: Level I, Level II, and DC Fast Charging.
Level I charging simply requires a 110 volt outlet. All electric vehicles come equipped with a cord that you can plug into a common outlet. A Level I charge uses the J1772 charging port and will typically add 2 to 6 miles of range for every hour spent charging (the actual speed depends upon the capacity of the charger built into your EV).
Level II charging requires a 240 volt outlet and a charging unit. You can purchase a Level II unit online and install it in your home with the help of a licensed electrician. There are also many publicly available Level II units. A Level II charge uses the J1772 charging port and will typically add 10 to 25 miles of range for every hour spent charging (the actual speed depends upon the capacity of the charger built into your EV).
DC Fast Charging
DC (Direct Current) Fast Charging is the fastest charging available for passenger cars (other than Tesla). It is increasingly available along major highways and intended for longer trips. American and European manufacturers use the J1772 combo (otherwise known as CCS DCFC or SAE Combo) and Asian manufacturers use the CHAdeMO. Not all DC Fast Charging stations will have plugs for each type of charging port. As a result, you must make sure the DC Fast Charging station you visit has the correct plug to match up with the charging port on your vehicle.
Here's a summary of the important things to know about each charging level.
|Level I||Level II||DC Fast Charging|
|Voltage||120||240||208/480 three-phase input|
|Charging speed||~2-6 miles/hr*||~10-25 miles/hr*||60-90 miles/30 min*|
|Charging port||J1772||J1772||J1772 combo (also known as CCS DCFC or SAE Combo) or CHAdeMO|
|Can I install one in my home?||You don’t need to! Just use a normal 120V outlet and the charging cord that comes with your EV.||Yes (may require adding a 240 volt line if your home does not already have one)||No|
|Are there units publicly available?||Yes (See Charging on the go.)||Yes (See Charging on the go.)||Yes (See Charging on the go.)|
|Is an additional charging port required on the vehicle?||No||No||Yes (standard on some vehicles, additional package on others )|
|*Depending on your onboard charger capacity, battery size, and current battery charge level.|
The charger: The charger is built into the electric vehicle. The charging port accepts electricity from an outside source and stores it in the vehicle's battery. There are different types of charging ports, which becomes very important when we talk about DC Fast Charging. Here are four of the more common options:
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
The EVSE is the machine with the cord that you plug into your onboard charger. The plug on the EVSE must match up with the charging port on the vehicle. All vehicles come equipped with a cord that will plug into a normal wall outlet for a "trickle charge". More on this below!
You can install EVSE in your garage and plug in as soon as you get home. You can also install EVSE on an exterior wall to charge outside.
Charging at home
Level I Charging
Use a normal outlet
Generally, EV drivers charge their vehicle at home. For most people, this is very easy. The EVs in our program come with a charging unit that you can plug into a 120 volt outlet (common in every home). Hopefully, you have such an outdoor outlet in your garage or on the side of your house next to the driveway.
Together, your 120 volt outlet and the car’s standard charging unit will make your home a “Level I Charging Station.”
Level II Charging
Install a charging unit
We recommend that you consider purchasing a 240 volt charging unit if you would like to speed up the charging rate at your home and if you already have a 240 volt service (or it can be added at low cost). They are installed by licensed electricians and they cost a few hundred dollars plus the cost of installation. However, many drivers are satisfied with Level I (110 volt) service. It all depends on how depleted your car's battery will be when you plug it in for a re-charge and how much time you have for recharging.
If you're ready to install a Level II charging unit and are looking for a local electrician, we can help! We have been building a network of licensed and insured electricians with experience installing EV charging units.
Here are three resources that can help get you started on the process of installing a home charger.
- From plugincars.com: Buying Your First Home EV Charger
- From engadget.com: The best EV charging stations
- From energysage: Best EV Charging Stations in 2018
Alternatively, you could look into a portable Level II charger. Green Car Reports has a great article explaining the pros and cons.
A Guide to Home EV Chargers
Installing an at-home Level II charging unit may not be as easy as you think. That's why the people of InsideEVs have made a comprehensive guide covering the ins-and-outs of installing at-home Level II charging units.
What are some quick tips?
- InsideEVs recommends buying a charging unit that can deliver 32 to 42-amps because your next EV will likely accept 32-amps.
- Purchase a charging cable at least 20 feet in length.
- Make sure charging equipment is safety certified by a testing entity like Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Learn more about portable Level II chargers.
SmartCharge Rhode Island
As more drivers switch to EVs, utilities need real-world charging data to reduce the cost of charging, improve the grid’s resiliency, and plan for increased electricity demand. SmartCharge Rhode Island is a study to learn how EV charging affects the electrical grid. Any National Grid customer living and charging in Rhode Island can participate by clipping a data collection device into their EV’s diagnostic port, which monitors battery health, trip data, and energy lost to heating, among other key information.
Participants drive and charge as normal, earning $50 for signing up and an additional $50 for every year in the program through August 2021. Plus, all of your collected data will be accessible to you, so you can learn more about your EV.
Charging on the go
Public Level I and Level II Charging
When you are away from home, you can access an increasing number of public charging stations. It’s easy to find these stations with cell phone apps and some new EVs come with these apps right on the dashboard display.
Plus, there are several websites to help you find charging stations near your home or workplace:
Public DC Fast Charging
This charging option is capable of adding significant range to an EV in not much longer than the time it takes to fill a gas tank.
Most modern EVs can be equipped with DC quick charge capability via an additional charging port on your onboard charger. Some come with a DC Fast Charging port automatically and some require you to purchase a special package.
We know drivers are concerned about where EVs can charge other than at home. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have more public stations than most people realize. And more are getting built all the time. We recommend this "Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks" from plugincars.com to get a feel for your options.
Below is an interactive map from PlugShare:
There are more apps and websites that can help you find a public charging station near you. Refer to the box at the top of this section to see our list of recommended sources. It's easy to charge when you're on the go!
Nissan LEAF owners
You can use Nissan's "No Charge to Charge" program. Qualified Nissan LEAF owners will get an EZ-Charge card, granting them two years of unlimited 30-minute complimentary DC Fast Charges and 60-minute Level II charges at participating "No Charge to Charge" stations.
BMW EV owners
You can use ChargeNow, BMW's official home for public charging information, access, and promotions for BMW EVs.