Are electric vehicles the future of automotives? Electric cars are significantly more eco-friendly and cost effective than vehicles with the traditional combustion engine. Many car manufacturers are joining the trend of producing electric powered vehicles. Are you debating whether or not to switch to an electric vehicle? Here is everything you need to know before switching to a battery powered vehicle from a fuel powered vehicle.
Traditional Automobile vs. Electric Vehicle
The main difference between traditional automobiles and electric vehicles is the combustion engine vs. the lithium ion battery. The traditional combustion engine runs on gasoline in combination with air. This mixture is ignited, causing the gas to expand and push down on the engine’s pistons which puts the car into motion. In contrast, an electric car has an electric motor and a battery pack to power it. Electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly and cost effective than gasoline powered vehicles. Gasoline is a non-renewable resource made from petroleum, and combustion engine vehicles release carbon dioxide emissions. The plus side to having an electric car is that you don’t need to pay for gas, there are no oil checks, and zero emissions are released.
About Electric Vehicles
Many car manufacturers have tried to replicate the success of the exemplar electric vehicle, Tesla. There are many different types of electric vehicles, the three main types being classic EV, hybrid EV, and fuel cell EV. The classic electric vehicle’s only source of energy is electricity and it must be plugged into a power source before driving. The two main types of hybrid vehicles are plug-in hybrid and non-plug in hybrid vehicles. All hybrid models run on primarily electricity, and when the charge runs out the switch to gasoline instead. The difference between the plug-in and non plug-in hybrid is that the non-plug in battery is charged through driving and breaking. An example of a non plug-in hybrid vehicle is the Toyota Prius. This process of regenerative braking captures energy as the car wheels slow down and converts it into electricity and stores it in the battery. These vehicles will often switch from regenerative energy to gasoline in order to provide maximum efficiency. Lastly, fuel cell EV’s are less common but use hydrogen mixed with oxygen to produce electricity. The most common fuel cell EV’s in the United States are the Toyota Mirai and the Honda Clarity.
Charging your Vehicle
Public charging stations are becoming more common in places like grocery stores and mall parking lots. Otherise, you can always plug in at home in your garage! Most electric vehicles do not need to be charged every day. On average electric vehicles can travel 200-500 miles before needing to charge. There are three types of at home chargers for cars. A level one charger is a 120-volt three prong charger that is commonly used around the house for appliances. This level one charger is slower than others, it can take anywhere from 8-16 hours to produce a full charge. A level two charger is 200-volts, such as your clothes dryer charger. Most people prefer the level two charger at public charging stations or at home because of the faster charging speed. Level two chargers can add 20-30 miles of charge for every hour plugged in. The level three charger is known as direct current charging. Most level three chargers only take 40 minutes to produce almost a full charge.
When you purchase a charger or pull up to a public charger, be aware that different vehicles have different types of connectors. A J1772 charger works for level one and level two charging, this is the most common type of connector. Tesla owners have an adaptor to use this type of plug as well. For level three charging you can use a CHAdeMO or a Combined Charger System (CCS). The CHAdeMO is compatible with Tesla but the CSS is not. The Tesla High Power Wall Connector (HPWC) is considered a level two charger. Lastly, there are NEMA variant chargers (wall outlets) that work with any electric car, even Tesla.
Charging Safety Tips
It is important to be aware of basic electrical precautions prior to purchasing your new EV. Before purchasing an electric vehicle, have an electrician install a new dedicated circuit specifically for charging your car. Dated home wiring may not be sufficient to support charging the vehicle. Always follow the manufacturer guidelines for charging your vehicle and purchase a charger that is safety tested by a recognized electrical testing laboratory. For level one electric vehicle chargers, it is recommended to plug them directly into the appropriate outlet. Never use an extension cord or an adaptor for level one chargers. Try to keep all charging devices out of reach of children when they are not in use. Do not use chargers that are showing visible signs of damage or wear, this could be a shock hazard. Cover your EV charging station outlet to prevent it from getting wet, and follow your car manufacturer’s guidelines on what to do if the charger gets wet. It is wise to install a residual current device with your vehicle charging unit, as this will reduce the risk of any electrical fires.
Advice from our Owner, Jeremy Mueller
Owner of Electrical Plus, Jeremy Mueller, offered some advice on charging tips for electric vehicles. Here are some questions to keep in mind when deciding on whether or not to purchase an electric vehicle:
1. Do I have enough room in the panel for the breaker?
If you don’t have any spaces left in the panel, it does not mean that you don’t have room.
Some panels allow for the installation of twin breakers. Consult with your electrician about charging options before making the purchase.
2. What size charger do I need?
It is best to consult with the manufacturer as to which is best for your needs.
3. Where will I install the charger?
At the time of estimate, know where the charging port is located on the car. This will help to get a more accurate estimate on the install.
Prior to purchasing an electric car, make sure that you understand the different charging options and how to install an at home charger. Consult with your electrician and car manufacturer to find the best solution for your new EV.