When it comes to charging your electric vehicle you ideally want a method that will do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Long gone are the days where it could take 14+ hours just to get half a charged battery. These days you can have a drivable car in a matter of minutes.
One of the easiest methods for charging your car is through DC Fast Charging. In this article we are going to be exploring the world of electric vehicle charging, looking in particular at DC charging and if you can do it at home.
There are three levels associated with EV charging, and DC charging is rated at level 3. This means it is the fastest and most effective of all the methods. But is it compatible with use at home? Read on to find out.
If you have an electric car such as a Tesla (or are considering getting one) and are interested in knowing about the fastest way to charge your vehicle, then this is the article for you!
What is DC?
Before we go any further, we want to ensure that you understand what we mean by the term ‘DC’. You may have heard this abbreviation alongside that of AC... and no, we don’t mean the rock band AC/DC!
DC simply stands for Direct Current. It is in relation to electric current and means that you get the current from the source to the item that needs power directly in just one direction, rather than through an Alternating Current (AC) that reverses direction.
Having an understanding of what a Direct Current is is key for understanding why they are so good at charging electric vehicles quickly.
What is DC fast charging?
So, you now know exactly what a Direct Current is, it is time to explore what that means for charging. DC fast charging is the act of charging your electric vehicle very quickly through the means of a DC point.
This means that if you are someone who does a lot of driving and is constantly on the road, you will not have to wait very long between charges. Simply connect it to a charging point, and you will quickly be on your way.
You can use DC fast charging at home (more on this later), or you can hook it up to one of the many DC charging stations around the country. They can be used when you need your car charged quickly as a convenience. For this reason, they are popularly used for long car rides.
DC charging is not typically recommended for constant use. The reason for this is twofold. The first reason is that, generally, DC fast charging is far more expensive than regular AC charging. This is because it costs more to install and use. The second reason is because of the sheer amount of power that is pumped out of a DC charging point.
DC charging points are designed for use now and then, especially when you need a quick, efficient charge in a jiffy! The power that flows from a DC charging point can actually put a strain on the battery of your car that has to handle all this extra energy. In turn, this can reduce the lifespan of your battery and its effectiveness if you use it for long periods of time.
Keep DC charging for when you really need it. With this in mind, you should not be put off using a DC charging point by any means! Quite the opposite, for they are actually very beneficial when used sparingly.
One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that DC fast charging is very expensive to install, and for this reason, they are typically only installed in a commercial or industrial setting. They are what is known as ‘level 3’ charging, and are the fastest option available currency for electric vehicles.
Some of them offer up to 170 miles worth of range for compatible vehicles. In particular, the Tesla Supercharger can do this after being charged on a compatible level 3 charger.
With this in mind, it is important to remember that not all electric vehicles will be compatible with all types of DC fast charging points.
What is are DC charging stations?
At this point, we have mentioned DC charging points numerous times. If you have never heard of them, then you may be wondering what the heck we are talking about! Worry not, because we are going to tell you all about DC charging stations in this section.
Just like a gas station where you would fill up your traditional car, a DC charging station is a place in which you can ‘fill up’ the battery on your electric car, whether that be a Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, or any other car that you might have.
These charging stations allow you to hook your car up to their banks, using an electric connector, such as a CHAdeMO or CCS. They then allow you to use their DC fast charging network, whatever that may be.
Some of the most popular ones in America are Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, Tesla, Inc. (of course!), EVGo, and Webasto.
You can simply charge the car up, stretch your legs for 30 minutes or so, perhaps grab a coffee, and come back to a vehicle that is charged and ready to go.
As the popularity of EV rises, so does the number of DC fast charging stations around the country. Check your state to see what the options are like for you!
Can you install a DC fast charger at home?
As we mentioned earlier in the article, DC fast charging is typically used in industrial and commercial settings. This is because of the large expense that is associated with it for installation, and then for use.
So, to answer this question - no.
For these reasons, it is not possible (at least at the moment) to install a level 3 DC fast charger in your home. They require a 440-volt DC power supply, and so they are not safe for the majority of homes. However, do not be disheartened, because there are other options!
Just because you cannot install a DC fast charger at home, doesn’t mean that you can’t have any charger there for your EV! Remember, there are three levels associated with the charging of electric vehicles. DC charging is rated at level 3. That leaves two other levels- level 1 and level 2.
What EV chargers can be used at home?
Both level 1 and level 2 can be used safely at home, so you can charge your vehicle whilst you sleep, or whilst you relax with your favorite TV series.
Level 1 charging is super simple, and they are the type that is usually provided to you when you first purchase your eclectic car. Typically they are designed with a 110 volt three-pronged plug on one end that you can plug into a point at home, and then a plug that is specific to your electric vehicle to plug into that.
Usually, level 1 takes around 14 hours up to 20 hours to give your vehicle a full charge from a tally dead battery. Of course, this is vastly different from the 3 minutes boasted by DC charging. With this in mind, it is perhaps better to use them daily for top-ups, not allowing the battery to drain to empty.
Level 2 charging is a little faster and requires another household power supply. This type of charging needs the same supply and outlet that you would use for a clothes dryer or electric range. This is typically around 220 volts, double that of a level 1 charger.
However, these sorts of outlets are few and far between in our homes and will be needed for other things. So, to solve this, you will need to get a professional electrician to install another outlet in a convenient place in order to charge your vehicle. This will hardwire the charger, and allow you to have a specific home charging point for your EV.
Level 2 charging is far quicker than that of level 1, promising a full charge in just 6 to 8 hours. This means you can do it overnight and simply unplug the car in the morning ready for your commute. As they are also relatively inexpensive to fit, many EV owners seek this method of charging as an upgrade from level 1 charging.
Both level 1 and level 2 charging methods use AC (alternating current), and so are understandably slower than that of DC charging. However, you can easily charge up your car at one of the many DC charging points all over the country.
Whether you will eventually be able to have a DC point installed at home remains to be seen, but given the constant innovation that we see in the EV field, we would not be surprised to see it happen in the future.
As you can see, the world of electric cars is an interesting one, especially when it comes to charging your EV. DC fast charging is by far the most efficient and fast way of charging your vehicle, and it is no wonder it is so highly sought after.
However, to answer the title of the article, there is not (currently) an option to install a DC fast charging point at home, and it is limited to commercial and industrial use. However, a good second option would be to install a level 2 point in your home to enjoy modestly fast charges of 6 to 8 hours.
That being said, if you do have a hankering to use DC fast chargers, we highly recommend that you pay a visit to a charging station especially for your electric vehicle.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article! Safe driving!