Most current or prospective electric car owners tend to share some of the same questions, and today we’d like to address one of them—can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet? If you can, are there any differences in different areas of the world? Are there things we can do to make charging safer and more efficient?
Yes, you can plug an electric car into a regular outlet. It appears that electric vehicle manufacturers have anticipated this question, which is why they’ve made it easy for us to charge our electric cars at home.
Regardless of where you live in the world, you have an outlet that is suitable to plug an electric car into. While this may be the case, there are certain considerations you should follow to make the charging process as safe and easy as possible.
We’ll take a look at what at home-charging is like in various areas of the world, as well as let you know some easy things you can do to make charging even easier.
Plugging an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet
While you’d never think that you’d be able to charge your car in the same outlet that operates your hairdryer or microwave, it is actually possible. All commercially produced electric cars on the market today come with a charging unit that’s fine to plug into a regular outlet.
While there are some differences across the globe, this doesn’t change the fact that an electric car can be plugged into a regular outlet.
Charging at home in a regular outlet is the simplest and most preferred option for most European EV owners. Your electric car will have come with an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging cable, which is suitable to plug into a regular outlet.
While this is a fine way to charge, many experts recommend the installation of a dedicated EV charging box. These wall boxes will come with different charging capacities and will be safer and quicker than a normal outlet. In some cases, charging time will be reduced by up to 30 to 60%.
In the United States, electric cars will include a 110-volt-compatible (Level 1) charger. Like elsewhere, this can be plugged into a regular outlet. An overnight charge is possible with this charger and great for people who drive around 50 miles (80 km) a day. Most electric vehicle owners find that this meets their needs perfectly and allows them to conveniently charge their EV at home without any changes or upgrades.
However, some EV owners prefer to invest in a Level 2 wall-mounted charger. With 240-volts, EV owners can charge their cars quicker—which becomes an attractive option for those who don’t have access to public or workplace chargers. This will need to be installed with the help of an electrician and it can be placed in a location that makes at-home charging even easier.
The standard charging cable that came with your electric car is indeed suitable for at-home charging in Australia. If the outlet in question is one that has been newly installed with at least 20A rated wire, then it is fine to plug in any EVSE, given that the EVSE is rated at or below the outlet’s current rating.
Yes, this means that your electric car can be plugged into the same outlet that usually powers your kettle or phone charger.
Sounds pretty easy, right? However, it is recommended that you take a few precautions before getting started. Normal household outlets can power an EV, but it’s strongly advised that you have an electrician ensure that the existing wiring is capable of handling any additional electrical demands.
So, in Australia, it’s okay to use an EVSE at home. However, don’t use it too often and try to minimize how often you’re unplugging and re-plugging. If you’ll regularly be charging your EV at home, you may want to invest in actually installing a charging box at home.
In addition, houses that were constructed before the 1970s may not have the electricity capacity to meet the needs of your electric car and may require an electricity supply upgrade.
Like in other areas of the world, if your house isn’t EV-power-ready, you can have the wiring upgraded and a separate electrical circuit installed. This separate circuit could be exclusively for your EV charging and could be located in a place that is close to your charging point.
How Much Does It Cost to Charge at Home?
One of the biggest concerns new electric car owners have is cost—how much charging their EV at home will rack up their power bills.
This obviously depends on your electric rate, but you’ll likely find that the cost of electricity will be comparable to, or in most cases, much less than the price of fuel. In fact, charging overnight with only the charger and the equipment that came with the electric car will generally only cost a few dollars to reach a 100% charge. This cost is about the same as it would be to operate an air conditioner for roughly six hours.
If you need to charge the car quickly or drive far distances each day, it may be worth it for you to invest in a home charger. The same might be said for anyone with a Tesla, which requires the installation of a special power point to meet the larger battery needs. Fortunately, there are some online calculators that allow you to assess what would be cheaper—installing an at-home charger or using public charging stations.
Charging Safety Tips
Avoid Extension Cables
Never ever use an extension cable. Your EVSE length should be suitable enough to connect to both the electric car and the outlet. If it’s not, consider having a home charging box installed in a convenient location.
Use Supplied EVSE
When purchased, your electric vehicle would have included a charging adaptor made by either the manufacturer themselves or an EVSE manufacturer. Only use what’s supplied by either of these bodies.
Don’t Use an Adaptor
Avoid using any type of adaptor. This includes a travel plug, multi-box, or double plug. Your EVSE should connect directly to the outlet.
Look Out for Damage
It’s important to consider that the pins in a household plug haven’t been designed to meet the needs of EV charging. They most likely won’t last too long with daily current use. Regular plugging and unplugging motions will eventually loosen the pin and socket and could possibly lead to a loose connection—which means a connection that’s prone to heating up.
Keep an eye out for any damage on both the EVSE and the outlet. If you see any signs of damage or fault, get it checked by the manufacturer or have an electrician come to make necessary changes.
If you’ve decided to upgrade to a wall-mounted unit at home, don’t try to install it yourself. Hire a registered electrician to take care of it for you.
Fortunately for us, you can plug an electric car into a regular outlet. Regardless of where you live in the world, EVSEs have been designed with compatibility, safety, and convenience in mind. However, when it comes to safety, there are certain tips you can follow to ensure that you’re charging your car effectively and safely. When it comes to efficiency, there are also things you can do—like install a charging unit—to get you on the road quicker between charges.