Electric Vehicle Chargers

Why ENERGY STAR?

If all EV chargers sold in the U.S. met ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to more than $17 million and 280 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided.

The number of plug-in electric vehicles on the road in the United States is increasing. Fully electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions. While charging the battery may increase pollution at the power plant, total greenhouse gas emissions associated with driving them are still typically less than those for gasoline cars – particularly if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources. For every mile driven, the average cost to drive an electric car is typically less than half what it costs to drive a standard gasoline vehicle. Using an energy efficient, ENERGY STAR certified electric car charger adds to the environmental benefits and cost savings.

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ABOUT ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs)

All-electric vehicle driving ranges are increasing, with some models able to drive more than 300 miles on a single charge. Depending on how far you drive each day, you may be able to meet all of your driving needs by plugging in only at home. The Fuel Economy and Environment Label, which you see on cars at the dealership, shows driving range and charge time. The label also shows the average annual fuel cost associated with the EV and the anticipated cost savings over five years compared to the average gasoline vehicle. In addition to fuel savings, fully electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and typically require less maintenance. Additionally, no emissions testing is needed.

Compare the greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging and driving an EV in your area using EPA’s Beyond Tailpipe Emissions calculator.

sample emissions output

Sample emissions output

ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGERS BUYING GUIDANCE

What type of charger do you need?

The answer to this question is based on the following factors:
1)    How many miles do you drive every day?
2)    Do you have a fully electric car, or is it a plug in hybrid (gas and electric).

For short range driving and plug in hybrid cars: If you only drive less than 40 miles per day, or if you have a plug in hybrid car, you can use a charger that plugs into a standard wall outlet (120 volt). These chargers will provide you with 2-5 hours of driving range for every hour of charging. These chargers are convenient and economical, but are limited in their output and the charging rate is slow. Using industry terms, these are called “Level 1 EV Chargers.”

For longer range driving and for fully electric cars:  If you drive more than 40 miles per day, and you have a fully electric car, then you need a 240 volt charger. These chargers are larger and require professional installation, but provide 10-20 miles of charging range per hour of charging. Using industry terms, these are called “Level 2 Chargers".

EV Charger Type

Average Charging Rate

(per hour of charging)

Level 1

Plugs into standard outlet (120 volt)

2 to 5 miles of range (depending on environmental conditions and battery charge %)

Level 2

Requires heavy duty electrical circuit and plug (like an electric dryer) (240 volt)

10 to 20 miles of range (chargers wired to 50A provide even faster charging)

Choosing a charger that has earned the ENERGY STAR label means energy savings, safety, convenience, and smart technology. Find ENERGY STAR certified electric vehicle chargers

Energy Savings: EV chargers are typically in standby mode (i.e., not actively charging a vehicle) for about 85% of the time. ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers provide the same functionality as non-certified products but use 40% less energy in standby mode, reducing their impact on the environment. If you have the option, charging your EV with green power (PDF, 172 KB)  ,  sourced from emissions-free electricity sources, offers additional environmental benefits.

Greater efficiency = more savings! When choosing an EV charger, it is helpful to note that Level 2 chargers provide higher charging efficiency and faster charging times when compared with Level 1 chargers. As shown in the table above, Level 2 charging is on average 10% more efficientthan Level 1, while adding approximately four times more miles per hour of charging.

Safety: Not all EV chargers that are for sale are safety certified, including some from large online and storefront retailers. To ensure your charger meets safety standards, choose one that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. All ENERGY STAR certified chargers are tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Smart Technology: Some ENERGY STAR certified EV charger models are connected, also referred to as networked, allowing for remote power monitoring and control of the charging state of the connected vehicle. These smart grid ready products may qualify households and property managers to participate in special energy bill savings programs that may be offered by some local electric utilities.

EV owners ideally have access to overnight charging, in their driveway/garage or wherever they park their car. Without overnight charging, EV owners can charge at some workplaces, or use public charging.

Ask the dealer.  Homeowners who are purchasing a new EV are typically offered a 120V charger (also called a cord set) as part of their vehicle purchase or lease, rather than having to purchase it independently. However, there are advantages to upgrading to a 240V charger, including faster charging times, which may be necessary to charge longer-range EVs overnight. When shopping for an electric vehicle, ask the dealer if they sell or work with electrical contractors that have ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers.

Ask the retailer. 120V and 240V EV chargers are sold by big-box and independent retailers, mainly online. Purchase an ENERGY STAR certified EV charger to ensure it meets key industry safety standards. Non-ENERGY STAR certified chargers may not be safety certified. In fact, many products sold by some major retailers may have false safety certifications displayed.

Hire a contractor. Contact a licensed electrician to evaluate whether your home’s wiring, electrical outlets, and other hardware can support the charging requirements of your EV. Your car dealer or the EV manufacturer may also recommend a third-party or contractor network that may be able to conduct a home assessment.

Use green power to charge your car. Using “green power” from your electricity supplier will provide a maximum environmental benefit. Not only will you be eliminating carbon emissions from your tailpipe and electricity generation, you will also be supporting green power suppliers. For more information on how to do this, see EPA’s Guide to Charging EVs with Green Power (PDF, 172 KB) .

Additional Resources:

  • Building Electric Vehicle-Ready Homes (PDF, 142 KB)
    • Consumer demand for homes ready for or equipped with EV charging is growing. This resource outlines the paths that can make a home EV-ready.

Electric Vehicle Charging Resources for Businesses and Government

FOR BUSINESS/PROPERTY MANAGERS

Business and property managers have an opportunity to meet the EV charging needs of their customers, tenants, and employees, while experiencing other benefits.

Attract customers and tenants. Many customers believe it is important to do business with environmentally responsible companies. The ENERGY STAR label and brand is recognized by over 90% of U.S. consumers. Choosing ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers can turn your parking lot into a marketing tool and provide a good first impression to customers, tenants, and guests.

Increase employee satisfaction.  Companies that offer workplace charging may be able to attract and retain employees who want to charge EVs during the day. Employers can enhance employee productivity and satisfaction by accommodating EVs that can take advantage of carpool lanes and other financial incentives. In addition, may be important to employees — even those who don’t drive EVs —that their employers take a proactive approach to sustainability.

Generate revenue. There are various ways to collect revenue for charging, such as subscription-based, pay-per-charge, and pay-for-parking systems. Ask the EV charger manufacturer or network provider for more information about compatible service offerings for ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers.

Seek the guidance of a local contractor. Installation varies from simple to complex. For some customers, it may be simple to install a new two-pole circuit breaker, wiring, and the EV charger. For other customers, installation can get more complex; these customers may need to upgrade service, install a new load center and conduit through walls, comply with codes, factor in long wiring distances, and perform transformer upgrades. In some cases, it might be best to add new EV charging capacity directly from the transformer on the perimeter of the parking lot, rather than from the building out to the parking lot since this approach can avoid expensive trenching. Qualified electrical contractors will assess the site and provide recommendations.

Recoup installation costs. There are various incentives at the local, state, and federal level for EV charging equipment and installation, including those offered by utilities. Your local electric utility may also have a Demand Response (DR) program or time-of-use electricity rates that will allow EV charging station hosts to take advantage of lower pricing during off-peak hours.

Maintain equipment. EV chargers may require periodic inspection, testing, and preventive maintenance typically performed by a qualified electrical contractor. Annual maintenance costs can vary but are generally low. Many EV charging service providers offer optional maintenance plans.

Additional Resources:

FOR FLEET MANAGERS

EVs offer a way to reduce operating costs, demonstrate environmental responsibility, comply with fleet policies, and test new technology. Learn more about charging a fleet of EVs by reviewing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Handbook for Fleet Managers (PDF, 2.0 MB). 

ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers will help fleet managers save energy and money when the stations are not actively charging. Fleet managers can use this procurement language (WORD, 775 KB) to aid in purchasing ENERGY STAR EV chargers.

FOR ELECTRIC UTILITIES

Meet customer needs. Residential and commercial customers are interested in EVs, which need to be charged at home, at work, or in public locations. Utilities can help educate customers about their charging options, including ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers that save energy compared to other models. Utilities across the country provide incentives, including rebates for EV charging equipment and reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours. Many utilities are installing infrastructure for public use within their service territories.

Understand load impacts. “Smart” EV chargers or those separately metered can provide the utility with information about how customers use electricity specifically for charging EVs, including when and for how long. Some ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers have Demand Response (DR) capability through open communication protocols, providing opportunities such as:

  • Load dispatch
  • Ancillary services
  • Price notification and price response for utilities
  • Additional potential monetary savings for purchasers

Additional Resources:

FOR GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

In addition to serving as an information resource for individuals and organizations within their jurisdiction, government agencies may provide EV charging for their employees or the public. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Handbooks for Workplace Charging Hosts (PDF, 2.03 MB) and Public Charging Station Hosts (PDF, 2.0 MB) has more information on the benefits of workplace and public charging.

Agencies providing grants, rebates, or other incentives can encourage the use of energy-efficient technology by incorporating language that requires or gives preference to ENERGY STAR certified EV chargers. Use this procurement language (WORD, 775 KB) to aid fleet managers with purchasing ENERGY STAR EV chargers.

Additional Resources

FOR HOMEBUILDERS

With the increase in EVs on the road, consumer demand for EV-ready homes is growing - especially because most EV charging happens at home. In addition, an increasing number of state and local governments are requiring that EV charging infrastructure be included in newly-constructed homes. 

Additional Resources:

  • Building EV Ready Homes (PDF, 145 KB)
    • Consumer demand for homes ready for or equipped with EV charging is growing. This resource outlines the paths that can make a home EV-ready.

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