Car Charger Electrical Outlet
An electric car can be charged using standard household circuitry.
Electric cars offer the promise of cleaner air in communities where power is generated from renewable energy sources - such as solar, wind, hydroelectric or nuclear energy - that emit no pollutants into the air. Surprisingly enough, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are also a cleaner choice than conventional cars in communities that get their electric power from burning coal or natural gas (See Reference 4, page 2 - 4, 11 and Reference 5, page 28). As gasoline prices rise, electric fueling appears to be an economical alternative, but one serious impediment to faster adoption of electric vehicles is the shortage of public charging facilities. For most drivers, however, charging an electric car at home will provide all the energy necessary for daily commuting.
The 110-Volt Solution
With the proper charging cord, an electric car can be plugged into an ordinary three-prong 110-volt outlet in your garage or carport. Known as level one charging, most varieties of electric-only cars can be fully energized overnight. Consult an electrician before plugging in for the first time. If your outlet is patched into the same circuit as your kitchen or laundry room, for instance, the additional amperage drawn may be enough to trip a breaker switch. Establishing a separate circuit for charging will ensure that your PEV is fed a full night of uninterrupted current (See References 1, 2).
A Faster 240-Volt Solution
A 240-volt charging system - known as level two charging - will power a PEV about twice as quickly as a 120-volt connection. For most electric vehicles, that cuts the typical charge time to four hours. Some electric cars require a 16-hour charge at 120 volts if the battery becomes fully drained but only eight hours at 240 volts. Home outlets for 240-volt charging should be wired to their own independent circuit (See References 1, 2).
The Solar Solution
Installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of your garage gives you a free source of energy to charge your electric vehicle. Solar and wind power produce clean energy that can be fed to a 120-volt outlet, which means your electric car can be operated on power that is completely emission-free (See Reference 4, page 11; Reference 6). While solar panels come with a high upfront expense, those costs can be offset by a variety of federal, state and regional subsidies.
States and municipalities have some powerful incentives for subsidizing home charging of electric vehicles. For instance, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offers a $2, 000 rebate to electric car owners who install a level two charging system at their home (See References 3). Encouraging the use of non-polluting PEVs lets communities reduce dangerous levels of smog and helps those communities comply with EPA-mandated air quality standards.