Charging 101: Everything You Need to Know About Charging Up

Posted: May 2, 2020, 4:07 pm

The Basics of Charging

So, you’re thinking about going electric. Great! The number of charging stations keeps increasing, making getting from point A to point B as easy as 1, 2, 3! Plus, charging is becoming more convenient and faster — you can charge at home, on your road trip, and even at work!

Charging Levels

Plug illustrationLevel 1

  • Plug into a typical grounded outlet
  • All you need is the charging cable that comes with your car
  • Great for overnight charging

240 V outlet illustrationLevel 2

  • Ideal for all-electric car charging at home, at work, or on the road
  • Recharge in just a few hours
  • Fuels via public or home stations and a 240v outlet

CHAdeMO standard plug illustration

CCS Combo standard plug illustration

DC Fast Charging (Level 3)

  • Charge up in less than an hour
  • Plug shape matters
    • The CHAdeMO standard is used by most Japanese and Korean plug-in cars
    • The CCS Combo standard is used by most American and European plug-in cars
  • Tesla has a fast-charging network specific to its cars with a different plug shape
Car at a charging station illustration, with a bar graph to the right. 2008, 430. 2009, 465. 2010, 814. 2011, 3410. 2012, 12,000. 2013, 19460. 2014, 26077. 2015, 31003. 2016, 40075. 2017, 47117. 2018, 57187.
Public Charging Stations in the U.S.

Quick Facts

  • There are over 61,000 public charging stations in the U.S.¹
  • Chargers range from simple plug-and-go to smart chargers that can be programmed with your car to start and stop charging when you choose
  • The average commute for Americans is 32 miles per day.²

Home Charging

House illustrationIn most cases, home charging is cheaper than public charging. You can choose whether to plug in directly to an outlet (Level 1) or install a Level 2 charging station at your home.

Typically, home charging stations cost between $300 – $1,000 plus the cost of an electrician to install it. Check with your utility or a local energy conservation organization for recommendations on contractors and electricians who can install your station.

Public Charging Networks


Public charging station illustrationWhen charging at a public station, you’ll likely use a charger that’s serviced by a network. Many have membership programs or subscriptions (you can download the app on your phone) and you can also pay as you go. Rates vary by network – some charge by session, per kWh, by the hour and some are free.

Membership with these networks usually includes a member discount or if you’re not a member you can call the 24-hour customer service line to pay on the spot.

Blink Charging, ChargePoint, Electrify America, EVgo, Greenlots, and SemaConnect are the most
common network providers in the U.S.

Finding Public Stations

Cell phone illustrationResources and apps like PlugShare, Chargeway, or the Alternative Fuels Data Center give real-time information on charging station locations, pricing, nearby amenities, and availability. Google Maps also now shows charging station locations.

Charging stations can be anywhere – at grocery stores and shopping centers, rest stops on the highway, and even at your workplace. You can run errands and grab a meal while you’re charging up, plus some charging stations can communicate with your car and phone so you control when charging occurs.

¹ Retrieved from: Alternative Fuels Data Center at ² Retrieved from: