The ABCs of Electric Vehicle Recharging
Jeez the auto market is being taken over by hybrids isn’t it? To think the first hybrids started to make headway into the industry about a decade ago, and to see how many are on the road today is pretty impressive. Today, auto names like Kia Motors are quickly adding hybrids, plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs), and electric vehicles (EVs) to their lineup, and one day, you may find yourself in one and in need of a charge.
Different Types of Charging
Due to innovative systems that recycle various types of energy, like regenerative braking, PHEVs and EVs both recharge their vehicle’s battery (or batteries) while on the road. However, this happens little-by-litte, whereas recharging can get a battery to 80% full in a couple of hours. While PHEVs can be powered by gas, electricity, or both, EVs are only powered by electricity. Thus, EV drivers can only refuel at a charging station, and that makes it’s important for a driver to know all about charging their vehicle, what’s the fastest method of recharging, what’s the most cost effective method of recharging, and what is the most practical?
The most practical and convenient way to recharge a PHEV or EV is by plugging into the wall or installing a 240-volt home charger. The latter is becoming pretty popular, and we discuss more on that below. Sure, there may be a little bump in the monthly electric bill, but it isn’t all that bad. According to FuelEconomy.gov and the current national average of electricity, the average cost of electricity for the Kia Soul EV to travel 25 miles is about $1.04 The national average for electricity, or about $4.16 to travel 100 miles? That’s not much.
Quick Comparison: Kia Soul EV v. Mazda CX-3
Cost per 25 miles
Kia Soul EV – $1.04
Mazda CX-3 – $1.94
Kia Soul EV – $600
Mazda CX-3 – $1,150
That means the driver of a Kia Soul EV could save an estimated average of $550 per year.
By using the charging cord your car comes with (yes, all EVs have an onboard charger, charging port, and charging cord), simply plugin to any 120-volt outlet you have in your garage, the same used for most home appliances. This is what we call an overnight charge though, as it will take several hours to hit 100 percent. However, owners can opt to have a level 2 “Electric Vehicle Service Equipment” (EVSE) installed, or a 240-volt charger, which can totally charge a vehicle in about 4-5 hours.
Charging Away From Home
If not charging at home, then you’ll have to find one near your place of work, the shopping plaza where you’re taking care of some errands, or wherever you are. Electric charging stations are popping up all over the place, but they’re still few and far in-between, especially when in smaller cities. Once you find a station though, there’s a couple of different ways you can charge up, and price is just one factor. Some charging stations are free, can you believe that?
There are typically two types of chargers at a public station. Most will be a level 2 charger, the same as the EVSE you can install yourself. If using one of these, let’s hope it’s close to where you plan to spend a couple of hours, maybe the movies or over dinner? Otherwise, you’ll want to find a fast charger, sometimes called “Level 3 and Level 4 Chargers” or “DC Fast”. This is due to the unnecessary need to convert AC into DC, using a 480-volt output unit.
A DC Fast Charger will recharge a vehicle up to 80% in thirty minutes. However, not all vehicles are capable of fast charging, and not all come with a DC charging port installed – that’s an after-factory installation, unless it’s the Kia Soul EV. Kia makes sure its Soul EVs come standard with the DC Fast charging port so drivers can stay on the go no matter where they are (provided the public charging station is also fast charging capable).
Most public charging station networks will require some sort of card to use it; this means there will be a rate to pay to have membership to use “public charging station X”, but it’s better than fighting over the free stations. There are several brands, but most fast chargers you will see will be a CHAdeMO (comes with the Kia Soul EV), a SAE Combo (somewhat rare), and then the level 4 Supercharger that is Tesla-exclusive. So really, you don’t need to worry about those last two if owning a Kia PHEV or EV.
Finding a Charge – There’s an App For That!
Aside from using your powers of observation, there are many apps out there to help find a charging station.
PlugShare is the most popular-to-date, and shows all kinds of charging stations so you can filter the results to find what you’re looking for. It shows a Google Maps-type map to show you all of the surrounding and local stations while on-the-go, as well as provide details about each. You can receive info about the cost, availability, and type, etc. about nearby charging stations. PlugShare also provides a trip planner for scheduling when to recharge. If you’re travelling down south, don’t worry about getting stranded in Florida. Just check out this picture to the right. Florida is leading the charge – pun intended!
EV Charge Hub is also good, and shows a lot more different types of charging stations, not just the most common. We know level 2, CHAdeMO, SAE Combo, and Superchargers now, but this app will also register J1772, Nema 515, Nema 520, and Nema 1450 units in the area. You can also filter out the different networks in case you’re only registered with a specific network, as mentioned above. EV Charge Hub also provides details about charge stations, it just doesn’t have a trip planner.
ChargePoint is “the world’s largest and most open electric vehicle (EV) charging network,” serving over 20,000 locations. Find all kinds of chargers, everywhere. Yes, everywhere, as in workplaces, homes, retailers, parking garages, etc. We’re not sure if homeowners opt in or out to show up, but it would be a little awkward if someone knocks on your door and asks to pay $5 to use your charger. Either way, ChargePoint will show all networks and all stations in any given area. Helpful in case you’re lost and getting close to a dead battery.
* That about covers the basics of charging a PHEV or electric vehicle (EV). Hope that helps you make a decision on what kind of alternative fuel vehicle to buy. Remember, Kia has plenty of choices with the Kia Optima Hybrid and Kia Optima PHEV, the Kia Soul EV, the new Kia Niro crossover hybrid, and upcoming electric Kia Stonic EV. Find your next Kia vehicle in our inventory . *