It feels like a long time coming, but electric cars are finally reaching the point where they are practical for everyday use. Gone are the days when you would have to pay a small fortune for a vehicle that couldn’t travel more than a hundred miles without being recharged. And as for recharging, where? In the early days of electric cars, charging stations were few and far between.
Do I need a garage to charge an electric car? The short answer is no, an electric car charging garage is not necessary. It may be preferable to have your car parked up in a garage while charging, but it is by no means a fundamental requirement for owning an electric vehicle. But let’s take a look at your options.
Nowadays, higher-end electric cars can compete with traditional combustion engines when it comes to range. Even budget models are boasting over 200 miles on a full charge. Charging stations are popping up everywhere, electric car prices are coming down. In short, the dream of a combustion engine-free world is finally coming to fruition.
But what about home? Part of the appeal of owning an electric car is the ability to “fill ‘er up” from the comfort of your own driveway. We might not be able to set up a gas station in our garden, but we can certainly fit a charging station there.
Of course, not everyone has a garage to park their car in at night. And the thought of a high-power electrical charging station sat outside, open to the elements, isn’t particularly appealing to most people. But do you need a garage to juice up your new ride?
Do I Need a Garage to Charge an Electric Car?
The short answer is no, an electric car charging garage is not necessary. It may be preferable to have your car parked up in a garage while charging, but it is by no means a fundamental requirement for owning an electric vehicle. But let’s take a look at your options.
Driveways and Private Land
Many people lack a garage on their property but do have a dedicated parking space on their land, such as a driveway. In such cases, you could have an external charging port fitted so that you can charge your car outside.
These charging ports are suitable for use in all weather conditions, so you don’t need to worry about it raining while your ride is charging. Of course, you will need a professional to install your charging port, and you may also need to check local building regulations.
If you do decide to go for this option, you could have your electrician install a 240V supply for your charger. Doing so will grant you the benefit of Level 2 charging, which can charge your vehicle three to five times faster than Level 1 charging.
The cost of this kind of charger can vary greatly depending on the features you choose. The lower end of the scale can be as little as $400, while the pricier options are up around $1,500. How much you should spend on your charger is mostly dependant on the features you need, but we’ll get into that in more detail shortly.
Condos, Apartments, and Rental Properties
Installing a charger in your driveway is great and all, but many of us are renters, so it’s not as simple just having a charger fitted. You may live in a building that has charging points already, in which case you already have the best option available, just be mindful of others. If there are limited charging points in a building with multiple electric vehicles, don’t leave your car parked there when it is not charging.
If you don’t live in a building with charging points, you could petition your landlord to have one installed. Now, we’ll be honest, it’s a long shot at best, but be sure to lay out all of the benefits to them when you try.
Having charging points in an apartment building will make those apartments more appealing to people with electric cars. Studies have shown electric vehicle owners earn, on average, twice that of the average car owner, and so make for more reliable tenants. A fact like that could be enough to nudge your landlord in the right direction.
Charging at Work
If there is simply no way of getting a charging point installed at your place of residence, it’s time to consider other options. The first of which is your place of work. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but more and more employers are starting to install electric vehicle charging points on their premises. If you’re lucky enough to work for such a company, find out what you need to do to benefit from that particular perk.
Charging in Public
So, we’ve exhausted all other options. If none of the above works for you, you’re going to have to make use of public charging stations to keep your ride juiced up. The good news is that there are more charging stations than ever, and they are increasing by the day.
You don’t have to rely solely on gas stations, as you would with a traditional combustion engine car. Charging points can be found in retail outlet car parks, parking garages, even just at the side of the road in some areas. There are also apps to help you quickly locate your nearest charging point.
Of course, the downside to this is that you are stuck waiting for your vehicle to charge. On the other hand, most public charging points will be at least Level 2, with some even being Level 3, which can charge your car to 80% in around half an hour. It is still not as convenient as plugging your car in at home, where you can wander off into the house once it is all hooked up, but it’s better than waiting for a few days as you would with a Level 1 charger.
How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car
The cost of refilling your batteries is affected by several factors. These include where you are charging, and whether you are installing a charging station to charge your car with. We’ve broken these factors down for you.
Charging at Home
Assuming that we are talking about a typical electric car with a range of around 200 miles, it costs approximately $10 to fully charge your vehicle. Again, your mileage may vary (literally). The type of car you have as well as electricity rates in your area-will significantly affect this number.
You should also factor in any initial costs if you are correctly budgeting the running costs of your electric vehicle. For example, if you are having an electric car charging garage installed, it is a substantial expense that you may want to offset with your fuel savings.
Charging at Work
If you are lucky enough to benefit from the use of a charging station at your place of employment, it will be down to your employer to set the terms. Many employers provide such a service for free as a perk, but you will need to check with yours.
Charging in Public Places
Again, while there is no definite rule for every public charging point, most charging stations found in car parks and supermarkets are free to use while you are there. Being a member of a charging network should make using charging points that aren’t free as quick and easy as if they were.
Rapid Charging Stations
You will usually find these at gas stations. They often provide Level 3 charging for around $8 for thirty minutes. For standard electric vehicles, that amount of charge should be good for 100 miles or so.
Whether you’re charging at home in your electric car charging garage, making use of a public vehicle charging spot at your local supermarket, or anything in between, it helps to be prepared.
When you sign up for a charging network, you are issues with a card that will be linked to your account. This card can be used to initiate charging from a wide range of charging stations, with the fee either being pre-paid onto your account or taken directly from your debit or credit card.
Charging networks add a layer of convenience to your charging experience and serve as an excellent backup for those times where you may have been caught short.
If you own (or plan to own) an electric vehicle, having your own electric car charging garage is the best possible solution in terms of convenience. Being able to charge your car while you sit in the comfort of your home is a fantastic feeling. Whether it takes thirty minutes or three days, it is preferable in almost every way to the traditional gas station trip to fill up your tank. Not to mention considerably cheaper.
That being said, if having a charging point at home is not an option for you, there are plenty of other options. You shouldn’t let your lack of a home charging point dissuade you from owning an electric vehicle.
Whatever your situation, however, be smart and plan ahead. Make sure you keep your vehicle topped up so that you don’t end up with flat batteries unexpectedly. Have a charging point finder app on your phone in case you ever do need to find one at short notice. And sign up for a charging network to make using those charging points as frictionless as possible.