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Costs to charge an EV

Is it worth switching from a gasoline-powered vehicle to an electric model—and if so, how would I charge the battery at home?—Damien

Electricity as a vehicle fuel is typically one-half to one-third the cost of gas or diesel, and electric vehicle (EV) batteries now enable longer ranges. The upfront price of an EV is still higher than its gas-powered cousin, but the cost is coming down and the number of models is increasing. We could even have an electric pickup truck option in the near future. 

Choose your EV

There are two basic types of EVs: the all-electric vehicle, which is commonly referred to as an AEV or EV, and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, also known as the PHEV, which can run using an electric motor or a gas engine. The PHEV features a larger battery that fuels an electric motor, which can power the car independently.

A PHEV can run solely on electricity for about 15 to 50 miles, depending on the model. This electric-only range may be sufficient for running errands or for those with a shorter daily commute. 

The lowdown on charging

A Level 1 charging unit is the most basic, usually included with the vehicle. It plugs into a typical 120-volt outlet, so it is the easiest and cheapest charging solution.

A Level 2 charging unit is more powerful and needs to be purchased separately. It plugs into a 240-volt outlet, the type used for larger appliances, which most of us don’t have in our garage or outside our home, so there’s an additional cost to have the outlet installed by a licensed electrician.

Most EVs travel 3 to 4 miles per kilowatt-hour. If you drive your car 40 miles or less during the day and can charge it for 10 hours a night, a Level 1 charging unit will probably be adequate. Level 1 charging makes the most sense for PHEVs and early EVs with smaller batteries and shorter ranges. 

Level 2 units will provide between 18 and 48 miles of range per hour of charging.

Be sure to call your electric co-op and talk with an energy advisor before making your EV charging decision.

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