Tips when looking into an EV purchase
Gas prices or the desire to go green might have you considering an electric vehicle. There are many considerations to make before purchasing any new vehicle, and electric vehicles (EVs) have some unique aspects. Safe Electricity has tips to keep you informed and safe if you are thinking about buying an EV.
First, you should consider your driving habits (including the distances you typically drive) and what you need from an EV. There are three types of EVs. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) use a traditional internal combustion engine but also have an electric motor and battery. Braking power and the internal combustion engine charge the batteries and power the motor. HEVs cannot be plugged in. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) use gas and electricity from the grid. They combine the affordability of electricity with the long-range capability of gas. EVs run solely on electricity from the grid. The driving range varies between different vehicles.
Just as EVs come in several types, so do charging stations:
- Level 1: Level one charging stations run on standard household current, 120 volts, and require a 16-amp dedicated circuit. It can take up to 22 hours to fully charge a battery at level one.
- Level 2: Level two charging stations require a 240-volt plug and a dedicated 40-amp circuit branch. Level two stations require the installation of charging equipment and 6 to 8 hours of charging time.
- Level 3: Level three charging stations are the fastest form of charging and are currently only available publicly. A level three charger requires 400 volts. It can charge a battery in 30 minutes or less, but it can only fill the battery 80 percent.
It is a good idea to have an electrical inspection to prepare your home for an EV. Have professionals perform required repairs and upgrades; do not attempt to do the job yourself. You should also contact your utility. They may have special rate programs or incentives for EV owners.
EVs are as safe as any other vehicle and must pass safety tests. However, like other vehicles, they require proper maintenance and upkeep. If you are ever in an accident, have your vehicle checked over, especially the battery which can become flammable if it is damaged.
The safety of others may be a concern in operating EVs. EVs are very quiet and can be difficult for pedestrians to notice. Be prepared for situations where pedestrians are completely unaware that your vehicle is approaching, and be ready to prevent a tragedy.
For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.