What is an EV Charger?

An EV charger connects to a standard household outlet and converts AC electrical power into the DC current needed to add range to an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid. Most EVs include a portable charging cable that allows you to use the car’s standard Level 1 charger, which plugs into a 120-volt socket and can typically add 3-5 miles of range per hour. Public charging stations are another option; they can offer either free or paid access, depending on the site and sometimes require a special smartphone app to set up an account or payment prior to plugging in (similar to how you pay at a gas pump). Most EVs can accept a maximum of 32 amps (7.7 kW at 240 volts), which is enough for most EV owners to do a full overnight top-up, while the fastest chargers, known as Level 3 chargers, can deliver up to 80 amps (25.2 kW at 240 volts).

Home chargers are typically plugged into a dedicated 240-volt outlet and may be hardwired or tethered. A hardwired EV charger is usually safer but requires the installation of a special circuit and higher gauge wires, adding to the cost. A tethered charger can work with most plug-in vehicles but won’t support the bi-directional charging capabilities of some newer cars.

Some chargers, called networked chargers, can communicate with the vehicle’s smart charging system and control when and how much electricity is used. This feature can make the most of a time-of-use electricity rate structure and allow users to maximize utility demand response programs, as well as enabling load sharing between two chargers without tripping the house’s breaker. Some apps also enable voice interaction and monitoring of energy usage. EV Charger

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