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What to Consider When Buying an Electric Car?

If you’re in the market for a new car, there's a buzz around a different kind of ride these days – electric cars. With all the talk about going green and saving on gas, electric vehicles (EVs) are turning heads as a fresh option for those looking to upgrade their wheels while looking after the environment. If you’ve driven gasoline-powered cars all your life, getting into EVs may seem intimidating at first.

But fear not–this guide is here to be your go-to source, breaking down everything you need to know when thinking about making the big switch.

Driving Range

One of the primary considerations when buying an electric car is its driving range. Range anxiety, the fear of running out of battery power before reaching your destination, is a common concern among potential electric vehicle buyers. Manufacturers provide an estimated driving range for each model, indicating how far an electric car can go on one charge. Observing your daily driving needs is a good practice when deciding what model to buy. 

While it’s easy to dismiss shorter-range EVs in favor of those with more than 400 miles of range, they may not always be the best choice for your lifestyle. For instance, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reported that an average American drives about 13,476 miles yearly or around 37 miles daily. If you drive within these numbers, a long-range and obviously more expensive model may not be the most cost-effective option.

Where to Charge

The convenience of charging plays a pivotal role in the adoption of electric vehicles. When it comes to charging an electric car, you have several options:

At Home

Despite the wider availability of public charging stations, almost 80% of EV charging is still done at home. After all, home charging is one of the main advantages of owning an electric car. While most EV drivers charge at home with a Level 1 Charger–most likely the one that came with their EV–60% of them still think about installing a Level 2 home charging station for faster charging times. Before purchasing an electric car, it's crucial to assess your home's electrical capacity and determine if any upgrades are necessary for optimal charging performance. You might also want to check if your service provider offers time-of-use rates for discounted electricity prices during off-peak hours.

At Work

Workplace charging is becoming increasingly popular as companies embrace sustainability initiatives. Some employers provide charging stations at the workplace, allowing employees to conveniently charge their electric cars during office hours. Consider whether your workplace offers charging infrastructure and factor it into your decision-making process.

At Public Charging Stations

Public charging stations are essential for longer journeys or when home charging is not available. The accessibility and distribution of public charging stations vary by region, so it's important to check the availability of charging infrastructure in your area. Consider whether the existing network meets your travel needs and whether additional charging stations are planned for the future.

If you’re on a road trip, there are apps designed to help you find public EV chargers along your route. Consider downloading popular options like PlugShare, ChargeHub, or Open Charge Map. These apps provide real-time information on nearby charging points, making it a breeze to plan your stops.

Malls and Supermarkets

Many shopping centers, malls, and supermarkets are now equipped with charging stations in their parking lots. Charging while shopping or running errands can be a convenient way to top up your electric car's battery. Investigate the availability of charging stations at popular locations you frequent to integrate charging seamlessly into your daily routine.

Types of Charging

For new and prospective EV drivers, one of the most crucial parts of owning an electric car is understanding the different charging levels. There are three levels of charging:

  1. Level 1 Charging: Level 1 charging refers to using a standard household outlet to charge your electric car. While it's the slowest charging option, it's convenient for overnight charging at home. Level 1 charging is also suitable for emergencies when faster charging options are unavailable.
  2. Level 2 Charging: Level 2 charging requires a dedicated charging station and is significantly faster than Level 1 charging. Many electric car owners choose to install a Level 2 charging station at home for quicker charging times. Workplace and public charging stations often provide Level 2 charging, making it a practical choice for on-the-go charging needs. There are also portable Level 2 chargers that can be plugged directly into a NEMA 14-50 outlet, eliminating the need for hardwiring.
  3. DC Charging: DC (Direct Current) charging, also known as fast or rapid charging, is a high-speed charging option suitable for long-distance travel or when a quick top-up is needed. DC charging stations deliver power directly to the electric vehicle's battery, bypassing the vehicle's onboard charger. This results in much faster charging times compared to Level 1 and Level 2 charging. DC charging infrastructure is commonly found at highway rest areas, allowing for efficient charging during road trips.

With the different charging levels come the corresponding connectors they use. While the two most common are the J1772 and North American Charging Standard (NACS), you might also encounter other types depending on the region you’re in:

  1. SAE J1772: Common in North America, the SAE J1772 connector is widely used for Level 1 and Level 2 charging.
  2. CCS (Combo Connector): CCS connectors are an extension of the J1772 standard and include additional pins for DC fast charging. This connector type is prevalent in North America and Europe.
  3. CHAdeMO: CHAdeMO connectors are primarily used for DC fast charging and are common in Asian and European markets.
  4. North American Charging Standard (NACS): Tesla electric cars use a proprietary connector for their Supercharger network, which allows for rapid charging.

While different manufacturers use different charging ports for their EVs, adapters allow users to connect their electric vehicles to various charging stations, providing a level of flexibility in charging options. Adapters bridge the gap between different charging standards, making it more convenient for electric car owners to access charging infrastructure regardless of the connector type.

  1. Tesla to J1772 Adapter: Tesla to J1772 adapters allow EVs to use the J1772 port to charge at Tesla charging stations, including Mobile Connectors, Wall connectors, and destination chargers. However, these are not compatible with Superchargers.
  2. Tesla to CCS1 Adapter: Tesla to CCS1 adapters allow CCS-enabled EVs to charge at Superchargers. The Lectron Vortex Plug opens the NACS to EVs featuring a CCS1 connector that has joined the North American Charging Standard (NACS) alliance.
  3. J1772 to Tesla Adapter: J1772 to Tesla Adapters enable Tesla models to charge using J1772 charging stations.
  4. CCS to Tesla Adapter: CCS to Tesla Adapters allow CCS-enabled Tesla EVs to enjoy fast charging using CCS1 chargers.

Total Cost of Ownership

While the upfront cost of an electric car may be higher than that of a traditional gasoline vehicle, considering the total cost of ownership provides a more accurate picture of the economic benefits of going electric. Factors to consider in the total cost of ownership include:

  1. Purchase Price: Evaluate the initial cost of the electric car, factoring in any available incentives, rebates, or tax credits.
  2. Charging Costs: Analyze the cost of electricity in your area and estimate the charging costs associated with your driving habits. Electric cars generally have lower fueling costs compared to gasoline vehicles.
  3. Maintenance Costs: Electric cars have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, resulting in lower maintenance costs. With no oil changes and reduced wear on components like brakes, electric vehicles can offer long-term savings.
  4. Resale Value: Consider the resale value of the electric car, which can be influenced by factors such as the battery's condition and advancements in electric vehicle technology.
  5. Financing and Insurance: Governments and local authorities around the world recognize the environmental benefits of electric vehicles and often provide incentives and rebates to encourage their adoption. These incentives can significantly reduce the overall cost of purchasing and owning an electric car and installing a home charging station.
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