Electric vehicles are being sold at higher rates than gas-powered cars across the U.S., according to the U.S Energy Information Administration. California recorded more than 1 million new zero-emission registered vehicles through 2021, according their new electric vehicle sales database.

That, coupled with high fuel prices across the state, has motivated people to start thinking about electric vehicles and the day-to-day routine of owning one.

A reader asked The Bee to answer this question: “how does [charging an electric car] work and what does it cost?”

According to a 2020 Consumer Reports electric vehicle post, while electric vehicle owners spend less on gas and maintenance, they traditionally cost more to purchase than gas-powered cars and might not be ideal for some homes.

So before you consider switching over to an electric car, consider this: the daily miles you drive, if you have regular access to an outlet and if you could afford a possibly high electricity bill.

What are the different types of electric vehicles?

Here are the several types of electric vehicles-based on a driver’s need, according to Drive Clean:


Battery-electric cars are entirely electric and don’t use fuel. According to Drive Clean, these cars could have more than a 300-mile driving range and don’t require too much maintenance.


Plug-in hybrid cars can run on gas or electricity. When a car uses up its electric range (around 20 to 55 miles), it switches to gas and drives on fuel.


Fuel cell electric cars are similar to battery electric cars in that they run on electricity, but the power system is different.

According to Drive Clean, the car’s system is composed of cells that chemically combine hydrogen gas from the car’s tank and oxygen from the air to produce electricity.

Fuel cell cars have a driving range of about 400 miles.

Types of charging

First it’s important to understand there are multiple types of charging. They include:

— LEVEL 1 — adds around three to six miles per hour

Level one is the slowest method, but it’s geared to drivers who charge their electric vehicle overnight and travel 30 to 40 miles per day.

— LEVEL 2 — adds around 14 to 35 miles per hour

Level two is faster than level one but requires a charging station. A station requires energy similar to a clothes dryer. Any electric car can be plugged in at a level two charger.

— DIRECT CURRENT — adds up to 10 miles per minute

Direct current produces a faster charge but cannot be installed in a home and not every electric car is equipped for it, according to Drive Clean.

— HYDROGEN FUELING — refuels a fuel cell car in three to five minutes

Hydrogen fueling stations look similar to gasoline dispenser, with a different nozzle and hose. Just remember, according to Drive Clean, hydrogen is more expensive than gas.

How much does it cost to charge an electronic vehicle?

The cost of charging an electronic vehicle depends on the type and location of the charge.

If a level two charger is installed inside a home, costs vary depending on the system, permit fees for the area and the home’s configuration. To offest the cost of installation, you can search for charging incentives and filter by location.

Once a level two charger is installed, the cost will then depends on the car’s battery size and the price of electricity within the area.

According to Drive Clean’s electric car charging page, the average price to charge at home is about 18 cents per kilowatt hour. At this price for example, it would cost about $7 to fully charge a 150-mile range electric Nissan LEAF car.


California public charging stations can be free, paid or subscription-based and costs are established by the station’s owners, according to the electric car charging overview page. Motorists pay around 30 cents per kilowatt hour for level two charging and roughly 40 cents for direct current fueling.

For example, at a public charging station it would cost around $12 to fully charge a Nissan LEAF car empty to full using level two charging and $16 with direct current charging, according to Direct Clean.

Where is the nearest charging station?

Here are a couple of sites to help you find the nearest charging station:

— Plug Share

— U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy alternative fueling station locator


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