Experienced By Kimatni D. Rawlins
As an automotive journalist, I test and evaluate the latest electric vehicles from SUVs to performance sedans. For example, I’m currently reviewing the electrified 2023 Genesis GV60 crossover, and in prior weeks I had the Mercedes EQS and Audi Q4 e-tron in my driveway. Since data shows that EV owners will conduct 80% of charging at home, I installed a ChargePoint Home Flex outside my garage to power Automotive Rhythms’ EV media fleet. If you are a current EV owner or considering joining the electric revolution, you should contemplate a home charging station as well.
There are three charging levels to consider to keep your EV ready for action. Level 1 is the slowest at three to five miles of energy recuperation per hour and utilizes your home’s 110V outlets. A full charge can take up to 60 hours or more depending on the size of your vehicle’s battery pack. Level 2 is the most convenient since charging can take place at home at 15 to 37 miles an hour from a 240V unit like the ChargePoint Home Flex. Public charging stations are rapidly increasing in many parts of the US and feature Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations. With Level 3 charging (also known as DC Fast Chargers), you can expect charging from 25 kWh to 350 kWh. For instance, a 350 kWh DC fast charger will juice a Kia EV6 GT and its 800V multi-charging architecture from 10% to 80% in approximately 18 minutes. Note that not all EVs on the road today have a DC fast charging port. Additionally, most plug-in hybrids can only charge at Level 1 or 2.
However, while rapid charging is great and convenient for you timewise, it takes a toll on your vehicle’s battery pack. Therefore, constant usage can result in lower long-term range for your EV. So for most of us, Level 2 is the perfect balance for efficiency and longevity. There are two other strategies for preserving your battery. Firstly, only charge up to 80%. Secondly, never let your battery run down to zero percent because it requires more energy to kickstart the charging.
For installation by a certified electrician, the Home Flex can be hardwired or plugged in, depending on your preference. I chose the hardwiring option and an outdoor installation instead of inside my garage. It’s weatherproof so there will be no issues when rain falls or temperatures drop. The 240-volt Level 2 system runs through my upgraded 200-amp electrical panel from a dedicated 40-amp breaker. The main reasons a car charger installation would necessitate the upgrades are physical capacity (how many breakers a panel can hold) or amperage capacity (how much current a service can handle).
ChargePoint provides Home Flex units from 16 amps to 50 amps depending on your needs. Many homes may only have a 100-amp panel that requires a service upgrade (dubbed a heavy-up) to handle the new load. For the quickest results, have your electrician hardwire your unit to a 50-amp circuit breaker which feature an estimated 37 miles of range per hour. The lower the amp rating, the slower the charge. As you increase amperage, more power is drawn to your vehicle per hour and at a faster rate. I observed that the Genesis pulled 9.3 kWh from the charger for about 30 miles of range per hour.
As previously stated, EV owners will charge 80% at home. But publicly, ChargePoint has an extensive network of Level 2 AC and Level 3 DC Fast Chargers. I can use the ChargePoint app to find locations in my area from shopping centers to hotels. The app also breaks down the usage of each charging session, whether at home or from a public station.
Many auto manufacturers are heavily supporting the sprint towards building out the infrastructure needed to meet the growing demand for EVs. For example, Volvo recently partnered with Starbucks for ChargePoint chargers at locations along a 1,350-mile route between Denver and Seattle. As a result, as many as 60 DC Fast Chargers at 15 locations will be available to coffee lovers.
Moreover, Mercedes-EQ announced an aggressive network plan at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The German automaker is one of many companies aggressively moving towards EV adoption to accelerate carbon neutrality goals. The charging network will be open to all EV customers, not just Mercedes owners. The rollout will start this year in North America and pairs with MN8 Energy and ChargePoint. Completion is expected by 2027 and will offer 400 hubs with more than 2,500 Level 3 chargers. When completed, EV drivers will find premium charging hubs near highways and in metropolitan areas. Expect four to 12 chargers at standard locations and up to 30 chargers at busy junctions.
The ChargePoint Home Flex is competitively priced at $749, and eligible for utility rebates and other incentives including the renewed US federal tax credit for 30% of total charge station costs and installation costs up to $1,000. Expect to pay $500 to $1,500 for home charging installation depending on your home’s electrical needs and setup. Are you ready for the EV revolution? The choice is yours as the mobility sector continues its shift towards electrification and carbon neutrality.