Source: “EV Everywhere: Vehicle Charging” by the U. S. Department of Energy.

To get the most out of your plug-in electric vehicle (also known as an electric car or EV), you must charge it on a regular basis. Charging frequently maximizes the range of all-electric vehicles and the electric-only miles of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Drivers can charge at home, at work, or in public places. While most drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home and it is often the least expensive option, workplace and public charging can complement residential charging.

Charging your EV requires plugging into a charger connected to the electric grid, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). There are three major categories of chargers, based on the maximum amount of power the charger provides to the battery from the grid:

Level 1: Provides charging through a 120 V AC plug and does not require installation of additional charging equipment. Most often used in homes, but can be also used at workplaces.

“Based on the battery type and vehicle, AC Level 1 charging adds about 2 to 5 miles of range to a PEV per hour of charging time. AC Level 1 is typically used for charging when there is only a 120 V outlet available, but can easily provide all of a driver’s needs. For example, 8 hours of charging at 120V can replenish 40 miles of electric range, which is over 30% further than the average daily driving distance for vehicle owners in the United States as indicated by the National Household Transportation Survey.”

Level 2: Provides charging through a 240 V (for residential) or 208 V (for commercial) plug and requires installation of additional charging equipment. Can deliver 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging. Used in homes, workplaces, and for public charging.
DC Fast Charge:  Provides charging through 480 V AC input and requires highly specialized, high-powered equipment as well as special equipment in the vehicle itself. (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles typically do not have fast charging capabilities.) Can deliver 60 to 100 miles of range in 20 minutes of charging. Used most often in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors.

Charging times range from less than 30 minutes to 20 hours or more based on the type of EVSE (fancy acronym for a the thing that fuels the EV), as well as the type of battery, how depleted it is, and its capacity. All-electric vehicles typically have more battery capacity than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, so charging a fully depleted all-electric vehicle takes longer.

In addition to the three types above, wireless charging uses an electro-magnetic field to transfer electricity to an EV without a cord. The Department of Energy is supporting research to develop and improve wireless charging technology. Wireless chargers are currently available for use with certain vehicle models.