Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free? [An Overview of Electric Car Charging]

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars are relatively new in the competitive automotive market, and so considering the fact that they require electricity to function means that new electric car charging stations would be required to get them running.

In general, charging an electric car costs less as compared to a traditional gas-powered vehicle. However, depending on where, when, and how, the overall cost of your electric car charging may vary.

Though charging an electric car at home is usually the most affordable approach to take, it comes with the added costs of installing and maintaining an electric car charging station.

Electric Car Charging Stations
Electric Car Charging Station

Depending on the type of electric car charging station you need, taking care of your electric car’s battery on the road can be both free and surprisingly costly. Here’s everything you need to know about electric car charging.

Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free?

Though several level 02 electric car charging stations are free of cost, others come with a price tag.

From employers installing electric car charging stations within their commercial establishments to renowned hoteliers such as Mariott providing complimentary electric car charging services, you will find all types of EV stations across the nation.

Not only is this, but today many efficient electric car charging points are available at public parking lots, malls, cinemas, and even supermarkets. They are often free for visitors.

However, despite the availability of free electric car charging stations nationwide, most electric car owners prefer charging their vehicles at home.

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What Is the Pricing of Electric Car Charging?

1. At Home Electric Car Charging

Most electric car owners charge their batteries at home. This is the most affordable way since the cost of household electricity is lower compared to commercial electricity prices.

In simpler words, when charging your electric car home, all you need to do is plug in your charger and pay your power supplier the bill, which will depend upon the amount of energy that you have consumed.

Moreover, almost all home electric car charging stations utilize a level 02 charging framework, in which a vehicle usually consumes energy at a pace of 7.2 kWh.

On the other hand, if you own a plug-in electric car with a capacity of 50 kW, it might take 7 hours to attain a full charge.

When talking about pricing, it would cost you around $5.6 to fully charge a 40 kWh electric car at home as it is 14 cents per kWh in the United States.

This means that installing an electric car charging station at home will cost you approximately $25.20 per month.

Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free
Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free

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2. Public Electric Car Charging Stations

While there are many level 02 public electric car charging stations you can use at no expense, some require payment.

However, these electric car charging stations give you the freedom to either pay by subscription or per visit.

The overall cost of a public charging station may vary depending upon the suppliers and localities as some electric car charging station owners set the cost based on the amount kWh units utilized, while others charge based on the amount of time required to charge your electric car.

Electric car owners typically prefer to decide to pay on a vehicle-charging-basis only as costs.

However, electric car charging station network suppliers to increase sales offer subscriptions through which they encourage electric car drivers to repower at a lower cost, aiming to make them loyal consumers.

Investing in an electric car charging subscription might be a decent choice if you have one in your neighborhood. 

A level 01 electric car charging station will cost you somewhere between zero to $300 for 8 to 12 hours of charge.

Comparatively, level 02 and level 03 electric car charging stations will cost you $300 to $1,200 and $12000 to $35000, depending upon the electric car model and the charging duration. 

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3. Electric Car Charging Stations at Work

This kind of electric car charging is the most costly; however, in the event that you are in a rush, it would be the ideal choice.

DC quick chargers are accessible in some public electric car charging stations. You can get about 80% of your electric car’s battery recharged in around 30 minutes to one hour.

What Are the Types of Electric Car Charging Stations?

Before you learn how to charge an electric car, it is important to know the different types of electric car charging stations available. There are mainly three electric car charging stations- slow, rapid, and fast.

The names of these EV stations represent charging speed and the power output available to charge your electric car.

Note that the power is measured in kW- Kilowatts. Here’s everything you need to know about the three common types of electric car charging stations:

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Electric Car Charging
Electric Car Charging

Level 03: Rapid Chargers

Otherwise known as level 03 electric car charging stations, rapid chargers are the fastest way to power up your electric car. Rapid chargers are usually located close to the main routers or highways.

Depending on the model of your electric car, a rapid charging station can recharge it 80% in less than 20 minutes.

Comparatively, a brand-new average electric car takes around 60 minutes to charge 80% at a standard 50 kW rapid electric car charging point.

Moreover, rapid chargers can be only used on electric cars with rapid charging ability, as they have specially designed charging cables tethered to the unit. Some common types of rapid electric car charging points are as follows:

  1. Tesla’s Supercharger: Renowned for their world-famous electric cars, the Tesla network provides rapid DC electric car charging stations to the drivers of its cars. However, when connecting, make sure to either use the Tesla CCS connector or the Tesla Type 2 connector, depending upon the model. A Tesla Supercharger can charge your electric car up to 150 kW. Moreover, while all Tesla vehicles are designed to use the Supercharger units, most electric car owners use adaptors such as CHAdeMo and CSS, enabling them to use the general rapid electric car charging stations.
  2. Ultra-Rapid DC: The next-generation rapid electric car charging stations typically provide power at 100 kW, 150 kW, or 350 kW. However, attaining other maximum charging speeds between these numbers is also possible. Ultra-Rapid DC chargers aim to keep the overall electric car recharging time down despite the varying battery capacities of new vehicles. For those electric cars capable of accepting 100kW or more, the Ultra-Rapid DC charger can power up your vehicle in 20-40minutes.
  3. Rapid DC: They are one of the most frequently used types of electric car charging stations. Rapid DC electric car charging stations use either the CSS or CHAdeMO charging standards to refuel your car. A Rapid DC electric car charging station can provide a power of up to 125A or 50kW. It typically takes around 40 to 60 minutes to charge at a Rapid DC charging station, depending on the starting state of the charge and the battery’s capacity.
  4. Rapid AC: The most basic types of rapid electric car charging stations provide power at 43 kW and use Type 2 charging standards. A Rapid AC electric car charging station can typically charge an electric car to 80% in less than 40 minutes.

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Level 02: Fast Chargers

Fast electric car charging stations are typically rated at either 22 kW or 7 kW (three-phase or single 32A). Though some charging networks install 25 kW DC chargers comprising CHAdeMO and CCS connectors, most fast chargers provide AC charging.

When it comes to opting for fast chargers, know that the electric car charging times vary on the type of the vehicle and the unit speed.

For example, a 7kW fast charger will require 4 to 6 hours to fully charge an electric car with a 40 kWh battery, whereas a 22kW will charge it in just 1 to 2 hours.

Generally, fast chargers can be found in public destinations such as supermarkets, car parks, and leisure centers. Though the majority of the fast chargers are untethered and offer 7kW, some home and workplace-based electric car charging units might have cables.

What Is the Pricing of Electric Car Charging
What Is the Pricing of Electric Car Charging

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Level 01: Slow Chargers

Most slow electric car charging units are expected to be up to 3 kW, an adjusted figure that catches most slow electric car charging devices.

In actuality, slow charging is done between 2.3 kW and 6 kW. However, the most widely recognized slow chargers are evaluated at 3.6 kW (16A).

Charging on a three-pin fitting will ordinarily see the vehicle draw 2.3 kW (10A), while most of the light post chargers are appraised at 5.5 kW due to the existing framework – some are 3 kW notwithstanding.

The overall electric car charging time can vary depending upon the charging unit and model of the electric car being charged. However, a full charge on a 3 kW unit will regularly require 6-12 hours.

Most slow charging units are untethered, implying that an electric car cable is needed to connect the vehicle with the electric car charging station.

Slow charging is one of the most common electric car charging mediums used by many homeowners who opt for charging their cars at home overnight.

However, you will be surprised to know that these slow units aren’t only limited to home use; with the ever-gaining popularity, electric car charging can be found at commercial establishments as well as public points.

As a result of the more extended charging times over faster units, slow electric car charging stations are less common today.

Also read, How to Wash an Electric Car

Electric Car Charging | Solutions to Some Common Problems

Charging an electric car isn’t the same as topping off a petroleum/diesel vehicle with fuel. An electric car owner plug-ins whenever they park their car, aiming to get a full battery on their return.

Therefore, when taking your electric car on the road, think, “Where do you park regularly?” and utilize electric car charging stations closest to the location. For a great many people, that implies either your home or someplace near your workplace.

What Kind of Installation to Use for Electric Car Charging?

When setting up an electric car charging station at home, note that any kind of grounded outlet can be used to charge your electric vehicle.

However, it is advised to get it checked by a professional to avoid overloading the circuit. A 3.7 kW reinforced outlet is the ideal at-home electric car charging station choice.

Not only does it work perfectly with all types of plug-in hybrid vehicles, but it can also handle higher charging loads easily, all while allowing your electric car to charge faster.

level 02 electric car charging stations are free
Are electric car charging stations are free

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How to Find Electric Car Charging Stations Nearby?

In a world where the internet and smartphones are 24/7 at the palm of your hand, electric car manufacturers and users have created special apps to help you find electric car charging stations nearby.

For example, MY Renault is a popular app that helps you find nearby public charging stations.

Moreover, third-party applications such as ChargeHub, PlugShare, Google Map, and Chargemap can also help in finding nearby electric car charging stations in the United States.

Check, How to travel in electric cars: Everything you need to know

Choosing the Right Level of Public Electric Car Charging Station

First of all, when opting for an electric car charging station, we recommend you avoid level 01 chargers as they are too slow and there’s a high chance that they won’t adapt to your traveling needs.

Although speedy level 03 electric car charging stations are the ultimate option, the level 02 ones are also a better option.

However, in simpler words charging your electric car at a DCFC station will only be effective and beneficial if your battery’s state-of-charge is below 80%, as after that point, the overall electric car charging rate will slow down significantly.

Our advice here is that once your electric car’s charging range goes below 80%, you should plug it into a nearby level 02 electric car charging station in order to optimize the battery’s overall performance.

This is primarily because charging the last 20% of an electric car is relatively faster and cheaper with a level 02 charger plugged in than a level 03 electric car charging station.

In case of time is a constraint, you should continue your journey until the charge drops to 20 or 30% and recharge it at the next level 03 electric car charging station.

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Final Thoughts

Whether free or paid, having an efficient and reliable electric car charging station nearby or at your home is essential in order to keep your vehicle on the road. However, before you plug in the charger, it’s best to invest in the electric car charging station (rapid, fast charger, or slow charger) that fulfills your needs.