Do Electric Cars Need 220 Volts?


It is getting easier by the day to obtain an electric car. Charging them is definitely a topic worth researching if you plan on buying one. This is because electric cars need different voltages to charge. But there are many charging options, a lot of which talk about having a charger with 220 volts to charge your car.

But do electric cars need 220 volts? Not all electric cars need 220 volts, but some may. All electric cars are different and each one will require a certain voltage to maintain a charge. In most cases, 110v will perform a slower charge but it will get the job done. 220 volts is needed if you want a faster charge available to you at your home.

While it would make sense to think 110 volts should be enough to charge your electric car, there are many reasons why you would need a 220-volt outlet to charge your electric car. I’ve put together some key points on why you would need 220 volts for your electric car. 

Do Electric Cars Need 220 Volts?

Not all electric cars need 220 volts to recharge properly. In the electric car world, there are levels of charging. The 220 volt supply is considered to be a level 2 charger. When charging your electric car with 220 volts, it will charge much faster than your standard outlet charging. 

Let’s say one night after working the grind, you come home and completely spaced plugging in your electric car for tomorrow’s commute. You wake up, get your first cup of coffee and go to start your day, only to realize you do not have enough range to make it to work! Here is where having the 220-volt power supply would come in handy. In a matter of minutes, you would have enough charge to make it to work and still on time. In this case, you would need a 220-volt power supply and nothing less. 

If you had any lesser voltage supplied to your electric car in a moment as mentioned above, you would be stuck waiting hours for any significant increase in range. While this particular scenario is few and far between, it can still happen, especially if you have a long commute or use your car for work. 

Most electric cars are very forgiving if this mistake were to be made. They have enough range that if you only drove it to work and back you would probably still have enough charge to go the next day. Personally, I wouldn’t want to take that chance. I would be the type of person that would need a 220 volt supply for my electric car, as I forget things like this from time to time! I can’t tell you how many times I forget to fill up when I am on empty and need to go to work the next day. 

While it seems to be pretty enticing to have 220 volts available for your electric car, there are some options that charge off of a common 110-volt outlet. 

Can Some Cars Charge Off Of 110 Volts?

Some electric cars can charge off of your standard 110-volt outlet. And there is something to say for the simplicity of being able to walk into your garage and plug in your car without doing any upgrades for the power supply. This can be appealing because there is probably an outlet already in your garage that can supply this. Charging an electric car at 110 volts will take a much longer time.

110-volt chargers take hours to accomplish even an 80% charge on an electric car. This is because the charge is not as powerful as the 220-volt power supply. 110 volts is designed to run your tv, a toaster, and video game consoles. It does this very efficiently. Now imagine if you asked your 110-volt outlet to operate 50 toasters at once. While it probably could, it would probably blow a breaker every time you turned them on. 

Even though it is slow, a complete charge with 110 volts can be accomplished. If you aren’t worried about the 10+ hours for a full recharge, then it may make sense for you to stick with that to charge your electric car. The 110-volt option is going to be the cheapest option in the short term. You don’t need to install any outlets in the garage with 220 volts, and that expense can be spendy, especially considering you may not have a garage at all. Let’s take a look into what it would cost to install a 220-volt outlet.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A 220 Volt Outlet At My House?

There are a few things to factor in the cost of installing a 220-volt outlet in your home. The first thing to do is find out if you already have a 220-volt outlet. Most dryers run off of 220 volts, so you probably have one but it is designed to fit a dryer plug. It is unlikely that you will be able to dry your clothes and charge your car off the same outlet. It’s also probably in your laundry room, away from where you will be parking your car. Most 220 volt outlets will cost about $800-$1500. You will want to make sure it is installed by a licensed electrician in your area. 

The next thing to consider is if you don’t have a garage, how far away your car will be parked when charging. You will want it as close to your home as possible, because most chargers do not extend very far. This will be a big factor in the cost of installing the outlet.

The location of your electrical box in your home will also be a big determining factor of the cost to install the outlet. If your electrical box is upstairs, far away from where you want the outlet placed, it will probably exceed the quote given above. 

The reason it costs so much is not only the labor to install it, but the cost of the parts needed tends to vary. The wire to run 220 volts is very thick and will cause the price to fluctuate. Factoring these costs may encourage you to think about installing an outlet larger than 220 volts. 

If I Use A Voltage Higher Than 220-Volts, Will The Car Charge Faster?

We’ve touched on level one (110-volts) charging and level 2 (220-volts) charging but there is one level higher than that. Level 3 charging is the expert on getting those batteries to full capacity in no time, and is much faster than 220-volt outlets.

You have probably already seen a level 3 charger. If you’ve ever seen an electric vehicle charger in a parking lot, those are all level 3. They exceed the 220-volt power outlets in your home by a long shot. You can have your electric car charged to 80% in as fast as 30 minutes depending on the one you have. 

These types of chargers are not recommended for home use, as they require a lot of power to charge. The cost of installing one of these is in the tens of thousands. For most people, this will not fit the budget. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t available to you.

As mentioned earlier, these are found in parking lots all across the world and the United States. Some employers even have these installed to encourage more electric car usage or to appeal to clients that own electric cars. This means that you will have opportunities to use these throughout your ownership of an electric car.

Using a charger over 220 volts will be similar to going to a gas station, especially when traveling. There will be times it is busy and you need to wait a while to use one. But, the wait will be worth it when you can pull out on the road in 30 minutes with an 80% charge for only pennies on the dollar. 

These level 3 chargers are definitely needed, as they supply your charges to go long distances. As for the need of a 220-volt charger in your home, only you can ultimately decide what is best for your electric car. There is a lot of comfort in the 220-volt power supply, but comfort does come with a price. 

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