What is EV Charging and How Does it Work?

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and as technology improves, more and more people are making the switch from gasoline-powered cars to electric ones. One of the biggest concerns about electric cars is battery life—most people don’t want to have to worry about their car running out of power while they’re driving. But with charging stations available in many places, this is no longer a concern. So, what is EV charging? And how does it work? Keep reading to find out!

Research has found more people will be buying electric vehicles (EVs) vehicles than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in the near future. 

The main difference between EVs and conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? EVs produce zero emissions, while ICE cars push carbon emissions into the air as soon as they are turned on. 

EVs are clean because they run on electricity, not gasoline or diesel. Instead of fueling up, EVs need to be charged. In this article, we will answer what is EV charging and explain how it works.

What is EV Charging?

Just like a cell phone, EVs need to be charged in order to have enough power to continue to run. EV charging is the process of using EV charging equipment to deliver electricity to the car’s battery. An EV charging station taps into the electrical grid to charge an EV. The technical term for EV charging stations is electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

EV drivers can charge at a home charging station, a public charging station, or at a workplace charging station. 

Residential EV charging refers to charging at home with a Level 2 charger (read more about EV charging levels down below).

Commercial electric car charging applies to EV fleet, multi-family units, and workplace charging stations. Commercial electric vehicle charging stations can be used by employees and customers. Many commercial EV charging stations are open to the public as well.

Read more about commercial EV charging by checking out our ultimate guide here.

How does EV charging work?

An EV charger pulls electric current from the grid and delivers it to the electric vehicle through a connector or plug. An electric vehicle stores that electricity in a large battery pack to power its electric motor.

To recharge an EV, an EV charger’s connector is plugged into the electric car inlet (equivalent to a traditional car’s gas tank) via a charging cable.

EV batteries can only accept direct current (DC) power. 

What are the different levels of electric vehicle charging?

There are three main types of electric vehicle charging: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, mostly known as DC fast charging or rapid charging. 

Level 1 charging can be done through a standard 120-volt wall plug, which can be found throughout U.S. homes and garages. Level 1 charging is extremely slow and is typically reserved for home charging during overnight hours. It can more than 24 hours to fully charge an EV battery through Level 1 charging. 

Level 2 chargers use 240-volts and are usually found in homes and public charging stations. A Level 2 charger is much faster than a Level 1 charger – up to 15 times faster! Level 2 EV charging stations need a dedicated 208-/240-volt outlet, which is the type of outlet used for an electric clothes dryer. Most homes don’t have an extra outlet of this kind in the garage or driveway and need a dedicated circuit installed by an electrician. 

DC fast chargers or rapid chargers use 480+ volts and are the fastest way to charge an electric car. 

Level 1 and Level 2 chargers deliver alternating current (AC) to an electric vehicle, which is converted to direct current (DC) by the EV battery. An EV battery can only accept DC power. On the other hand, a DC rapid charging station delivers DC directly to the electric vehicle and the electrical current does not need to be converted. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers recharge EVs much slower due to the AC/DC conversion process.

There are three types of Level 3 charging or DC fast charging: Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO (“CHArge de MOve”), and Tesla Supercharger. CCS allows AC/DC charging through the same port, cars with CHAdeMO have a separate port for AC charging.

Not all EVs can charge through a DC fast charger. DC fast chargers are only used in commercial applications and cannot be installed in homes for several reasons – homes don’t have the electrical capacity for a DC rapid charger, EV drivers don’t need that quick of a charge for overnight home charging, and a DC fast charging installation is much more expensive than a Level 2 due to the electrical infrastructure improvements necessary.

On the other hand, when it comes to commercial applications a DC fast charging station may be the ideal EV charging solution for a business. For example, DC rapid chargers are perfect for fleet charging and for highway public charging stations.

Learn more about fleet charging here.

How long does it take to charge an EV?

How long it takes to charge an electric vehicle depends on the type of EV charging point you are using. 

Level 1 electric vehicle chargers will charge an EV at a rate of 2 to 5 miles per hour.

Level 2 EV charging points can charge an EV up to 15 times faster than Level 1 charging points.  They can charge 13-75 miles per hour.

Level 2 EV chargers are efficient and easy to use. A level 2 charging station is the perfect solution for home charging.

DC Level 3 EV chargers can charge 80% of an EV’s battery in 10 to 30 minutes. This is of course the fastest charging option available on the market today. DC fast chargers are not compatible with all EVs.

How fast are Tesla Superchargers?

There are more than 25,000 Tesla Superchargers in the world. Tesla says its fast-charging network is the largest in the world. 

Tesla Superchargers can charge a Tesla battery in about 30 minutes. Tesla Superchargers cannot be installed in homes. The Tesla EV driver can only charge through a Supercharger in public settings, like shopping malls, retail businesses, or along roadways.

Tesla Superchargers exclusively charge Teslas.

How to charge an electric car at home

Installing a home charger is a great way to further enjoy EV ownership and alleviate stress. Using a home electric vehicle charging station is safer, more convenient, and cheaper than plugging into a public charger. The possibility of experiencing range anxiety is low and you will more than likely never have to go to a public charging point ever again!

Charging at home is simple. Once you have the EV charger installed all you have to do is put the connector into your EV’s inlet and wait until it is finished with charging your car. You’ll want to make sure to charge when demand is low and you can take advantage of off-peak demand pricing. You will likely find overnight charging is your best option. 

The installation is the complicated part. WattLogic has made the process easy. We can get you a quote and a turnkey package that includes applying for rebates on your behalf. Complete our virtual 7-minute survey and we’ll provide you a price in no time.

How does the cost of charging compare to gasoline?

According to 2020 research on the cost of charging electric vehicles from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), electric car drivers could save as much as $14,500 on fuel costs over 15 years by driving an EV instead of an ICE vehicle. 

The cost to charge an EV depends on where you are charging, the efficiency of your EV, vehicle use, region, and time of day. The study found the national average to charge an electric vehicle was $0.15/kWh. 

How does that compare to the cost to drive a car with an internal combustion engine? The cost per mile ranges between $0.13 to $0.22 per gallon and that’s with gas prices at $3 to $4 (as you know gas prices fluctuate all the time and this estimate could be at the low end).

How do I get started with EV charging?

Installing a home charging station or electrifying your facility can easily become overwhelming, but it won’t be if you connect with us, an experienced and reputable EV charging company. WattLogic is determined to maximize the potential of every watt and we’ve revolutionized the EV charging installation process making it easy to get a quote and get you the EV charging solution you want. Connect with our team of EV charging specialists who can help you figure out what type of residential or commercial EV charging you need and how to save on chargers and installation costs. Connect with us to start your electrification journey: (800) 834-8737!


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Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng is the Marketing Coordinator at WattLogic. As a former television news reporter, Vanessa enjoys creating written and video content for WattLogic and has an interest in environmental issues.