What to Expect for Your First Fast Charge
As the proud new owner of a Kia Niro EV, I had a lot of the same thoughts that many new EV drivers experience at the idea of using a public fast charger. Choosing the right charging speed and connector, knowing how to connect to your charging port, where to find stations, how to start and stop a charge at the charger… it feels like a lot!
Like most things, there’s a learning curve, but after my first charge, it was a snap! I’m here to share some first-time charging tips – sort of a what-to-expect-when-you’re-charging for new EV drivers. Below are some of my most important pointers:
The Charger Level Matters
A Level 2 (L2) charger will charge your EV at lower and slower speeds, providing an 80% charge in roughly 5-6 hours. If you don’t have a few hours to spare, consider looking for a Level 3 charger, also called DCFC or DC fast charger, which will get you that same charge in just 15-45 minutes, depending on your vehicle. Another important note is that the kind of charger you can use varies based on the kind of electric model you drive. While all battery electric vehicles can use DC fast chargers, most plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can only utilize L2 charging.
Know Which Connector Your Car Uses
While the same gas pump nozzle fits internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, there are four different types of charging connectors for EVs. The Type 1 connector, also known as a J plug or J1772, is used exclusively for L2 charging. The CHAdeMO—an abbreviation of the words Charge de Move—is a connector that was established by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and other Japanese companies in 2010 and it works primarily with models from those brands. The CCS connector works with most North American and European vehicles. And of course, the Tesla connector is just for Tesla models. Many public fast chargers offer CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, but the EVgo network also offers built-in Tesla connectors at hundreds of our stations so that any EV can fast charge with us. Check your vehicle’s manual to confirm which connector you should use, but don’t worry too much – the right connector will fit exactly in your charging port so you can’t plug in the wrong one.
Install Charging Apps Ahead of Time
There’s nothing worse than setting out for your destination only to realize you have to download an app and register an account before you can charge along the way. So, download the EVgo app today and create your account so you’ll be ready for the road. Not only can you use the EVgo app to start and pay for your charging session, it will also find the nearest public charger and give you directions to get there. PlugShare is another great resource that you can use to find chargers on the go, and the PlugShare app can even help you find chargers if you’re traveling outside the U.S.
Charging Cables Are Heavier Than Gas Pump Hoses
Have you ever picked up something that was lighter than you expected it to be and almost tossed it out of your hand? EV charging cables are the opposite of that. Charging cables are heavier and stiffer than hoses at today’s gas stations, but they function just the same. Aside from the cable weight, the charging experience is actually pretty similar to filling up with gas. You just choose your connector, insert into your charging port, and start your charge with the app, EVgo program card or a credit card. When you’re all charged up, remove the connector, replace it in its holster, and off you go.
Choose Your Location Wisely
You may choose to make a call, check your emails, or rest your eyes while you charge, but if you’re a multi-tasker like me, you might want to make use of your charging time by running a quick errand, grabbing a coffee, or taking a walk. You can easily choose a charger based on location type. You can find our fast chargers at malls, shopping centers, parks, libraries, coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and other convenient areas around town.
I was once a first-time charger, just like you, but once I did it, I realized that public charging is a breeze (and it smells way better than the gas station). Now go forth and charge!