1 Unexpected Downside of EVs Compared to Hybrid Cars


Electric vehicles might be the future, but they’re suffering from a sales downturn in 2024. In the past few years, some early adopters of EVs wanted to be the first in their neighborhood to buy an electric car. But other more mainstream car buyers have concerns about EVs — from higher auto insurance prices to “range anxiety.”

Every new technology has its growing pains. But one of the biggest EV downsides that not enough people are paying attention to is: Can you actually charge an electric vehicle at your home?

Let’s look at a few of the challenges of home charging of electric vehicles — and whether an EV could be the right fit for your daily driving.

Home charging of EVs: Slower than you might think

One advantage of electric vehicles is that their batteries can be charged with a standard 110-volt household power outlet. That’s right — the same outlet that you’d use to plug in a laptop or charge your smartphone can also be used to charge your electric vehicle. If you have a garage, carport, or driveway with an exterior power outlet, you can plug in your EV and charge it at home.

But here’s the problem: Charging an EV at home takes awhile. Official data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that home charging with a standard 110-volt outlet (known as “Level 1” charging) only adds about four or five miles of battery range per hour. (Tesla says that a standard outlet will only recharge its car batteries by about three miles per hour.)

Say you get home from work at 6 p.m. and leave your car plugged in overnight until departing for your commute the next morning at 8 a.m. In those 14 hours, you could recharge your battery by about 56 to 70 miles of range.

Depending on your driving habits, that might be enough range for your everyday needs. U.S. Department of Transportation survey data shows that the average American drives about 37 miles each day. But if you have a longer commute, or just want to have a fully charged battery every day, you might need to raise the game on your home EV charging.

How to charge your EV at home faster: Level 2 charging

If you’re willing to pay a bit extra, you can get a more powerful charger for refueling your EV at home. This is known as a “Level 2” charger, and it involves a 240-volt outlet; the same kind that is used for connecting power to larger appliances like an oven, washer, or dryer.

To install a 240-volt Level 2 charger for your EV, you will need to hire a professional electrician. For an example of the costs to install a faster EV charger at home, Tesla sells a Wall Connector home charger that has a sale price of $475, and an estimated installation cost of $750 to $1,500. Tesla’s Wall Connector adds about 44 miles of battery range per hour — making it easier to completely recharge your EV battery overnight.

Some states and local utilities might offer rebates or tax benefits to help you cover the costs of installing a Level 2 EV charger at your home.

What if you can’t charge your EV at home?

If you live in an apartment, park on the street, or otherwise don’t have access to reliable power outlets to charge your EV at home, it’s time to take your EV charging to the next level: DC fast charging.

This is a super-fast type of EV battery charging that uses direct current (DC) and can deliver 100 to 200 miles of range (or more) in about 30 minutes. Some EV drivers might even see an 80% battery recharge after just 20 minutes of DC fast charging.

In the same way that owners of gas-powered cars have to go to the gas station to refuel, some EV owners might need to use public EV charging stations. The U.S. Department of Energy’s website offers a searchable map of fast EV charging locations near you.

Is EV charging a dealbreaker? Here’s another car to buy

If you don’t have the ability to charge an EV at home and you don’t trust the reliability of nearby public charging stations, you might want to consider a hybrid car. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) can give you lots of the same money-saving benefits as EVs, but they also run on gasoline.

I own a plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius Prime, and it’s one of my all-time favorite cars. My auto insurance only costs $89 per month, and it feels like driving a zippy little eco-friendly spaceship. And it can run on battery (“plug-in”) OR on gas (hybrid). I don’t have to worry about range anxiety, but I can still save big bucks on gas. And some plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) also qualify for the EV tax credits — up to $7,500 for eligible new cars, or up to $4,000 for pre-owned plug-in hybrids.

Bottom line

If you want to buy an EV, first crunch the numbers to make sure you can get enough battery range from home charging. Many everyday commuters should be able to recharge their EV batteries just with home outlets.

If you need more battery range, consider installing a Level 2 charger at home. Public charging stations are still being built and might not be 100% reliable, but ideally their quality and accessibility will improve in the near future as more EVs hit the road and more stations are built.

And if EV charging is a dealbreaker, you might want to consider a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. These cars can save you money on gas without range anxiety.

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