Charging an electric car

Charging an electric car

“Range anxiety” is one of the main reasons people are hesitant to go electric. But, the fact is if your round-trip daily commute is less than 60 miles, most electric cars on the market today will cover you on a single charge.

Charging is no big deal with a little planning

You can get the most out of driving electric when you have:

  • A plug available for home or workplace charging
  • Accounts or apps for public charging when you're on the go
  • A clear idea of the time needed to charge

If you live in a single-family home, you can use a standard, grounded 120V plug. You can also install a Level 2 charger, which operates at 240V.

If you live in an apartment, condo or townhome without a dedicated parking space and outlet, charging can be more complicated. That’s especially true if your workplace doesn’t offer charging. Before purchasing an electric vehicle, talk to your building manager or homeowners association to discuss your charging options.

When you charge matters

Learn more about the benefits of charging your EV at different times of day.

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Charging on the go

In Washington state, electric car drivers can find DC fast charging stations along I-5, Highway 2, and parts of I-90. In fact, drivers can now travel “border-to-border” along the 276 miles of I-5 between Oregon and Canada without worrying where they’ll charge.

  1. Charging station locations
  2. EV-Friendly Cities in Washington
  3. Find an EV Charging Station

The difference between chargers

These are the types of chargers you’ll use while charging your car at home, work or a public charging station. Note that exact charging rates depend on both your car and the specific charger model.


Level 1 Charging

VOLTS: 120
CHARGING RATE: 2-5 miles of range per hour
WHERE: Home, anywhere with an outlet

This is the charging cord that comes standard with every electric car. It has a conventional three-prong plug that goes into any properly grounded standard household outlet.

Level 1 charging provides 2 to 5 miles of range per hour. In most cases, charging your car overnight with this charger will be enough to meet your needs if you have a short commute or use your electric car mostly for running errands.

Level 2 Charging

VOLTS: 240
CHARGING RATE: 10-25 miles of range per hour
WHERE: Home, work, public

Level 2 charging operates at 240 volts and is at least twice as fast as Level 1 charging, adding 10 to 25 miles of range per hour.

While Level 2 chargers are common at workplaces, apartment buildings and public areas, they can also be installed at single-family homes. Doing so will require the same type of wiring as an electric stove or clothes dryer and working with a professional electrician.

DC Fast Charging

VOLTS: 300-800
CHARGING RATE: Full charge in around an hour
WHERE: Public, work

This type of charging unit uses direct current (DC) rather than household alternating current and charges through a high-powered 480-volt plug. DC fast charging stations hook up to the electricity grid so they can get and convert far more power.

You'll find DC fast charging at public sites, often along highways or in urban locations, and workplaces. They can look like gas pumps and fully charge your electric car in an hour or so.