Can You Charge Electric Cars at ANY Charging Station? (Checked)

It’s super important to have easy access to charging when you move to an electric car.

One of the first questions people have is concerning where you can charge your car.

Let’s dive in.

Can electric cars be charged at any charging station?

While most electric cars can be charged at any charging station, if differs how efficiently the vehicle will charge. There are three different types of charge stations, labeled Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. All electric cars can use Level 1 and Level 2 charge stations.

Do all charging stations work with all-electric cars?

Level 1 charge stations are pretty much universal, but they are the slowest way to charge.

Getting to an 80% charge from 20% can take around 12 hours, with a full charge (0 to 100%) sometimes taking nearly 24 hours.

Fortunately, most people who will choose to charge their vehicles with a Level 1 charger typically have a lot of time. This is one of the most common options people use to charge at home.

Level 2 charge stations will typically take around three to four hours to charge off of regular AC power (getting from 20% to 80%).

This is also a popular option for many home charging stations.

DC charging typically takes between ten and thirty minutes (depending on the amount of charge left in the battery). This is a much more popular option for people using commercial charging stations.

Typically, DC charging is done by people who are on long road trips.

Level 3 charge stations can only be used by some types of electric cars (namely, Teslas). These stations are not typically available for home use, but they can be found at commercial charging stations.

Practically all electric cars are set-up to allow at-home charging. 

As long as a home comes with the right type of plug, it is possible to charge just about any car at home.

Today, most electric cars also come with portable chargers as standard.

Do all electric cars use the same universal plugs?

Unfortunately, each electric car will come with its own charging cord which will only fit into a specific type of outlet. However, there are just a few choices when it comes to plugs.

The vast majority of electric cars will use either a 120 or 220 V outlet.

In America, these are commonly referred to as a “standard” plug and a “dryer” or “three-prong” plug.

Nearly all electric vehicles use these types of plugs in order to make at-home charging convenient. There are a few models of electric vehicles that require a specialty plug, however.

These set-ups will usually require an electrician to install the equipment in a home.

  • Level 1 charging is accomplished with a 120 V plug, which can be used by practically every electric car.
  • Level 2 charging is accomplished with a 240 V outlet or large dryer plug.

This type of charging can also be used by nearly every type of electric car,and is faster than Level 1 charging.

DC power can be used to charge most cars, but these types of plugs are usually only found at commercial charging stations.

At commercial charging stations you’ll typically find all sorts of plugs, including the specialty plugs required of Level 3 charging.

Most electric cars that are being manufactured today will be able to use several different types of plugs.

This allows you to charge a vehicle at home with a “regular” 120 V plug or a 220V plug, and also take advantage of the faster charging available at commercial charging stations.

Do all charging stations use the same plugs?

There are two types of charging stations, commercial and residential.

Both of these can use several different types of plugs, but all of the types of plugs might not be available at every location.

Residential charging

In the United States, residential charging will typically use 120 V or 240 V plugs, commonly thought of as “regular” and “three prong” plugs by most Americans.

These plugs are typically found in most American homes.

Three prong or 220 V plugs can be rare in American homes, but most garages have such an outlet. Fortunately, more and more electric cars are being produced that can charge off of a 120 V plug.

There are a limited number of electric cars that use plugs other than these common shapes.

These charging ports or plugs have to be specially installed by an electrician, however.

Commercial charging

Nearly all commercial charging stations have a variety of plugs that can be used to charge an electric vehicle.

Practically every commercial charging station will have a wide variety of plugs.

However, it is important to be familiar with the three types of connectors that come with electric cars.

The most common connector is an SAE J1772.

Nearly all electric cars can charge at Level 1 or Level 2 with a J1772 connector. This is a standard connector that comes with just about every electric car. It is also the most common type of plug found at commercial charging stations.

Electric vehicles that are capable of DC fast charging will have a J1172 connector. This type of connector has two additional large pins that allow it to use a DC Fast Charge System.

This is also called a CCS connector.

Finally, Tesla connectors are only available on their models of electric cars.

They are the smallest of all the charging connectors currently available on the market.

They work at all charging levels.

Because Tesla charging stations are not always widely available, however, they also include an SAE J1772 connector that can be used at Level 2 charging stations.

Can any electric car use a Tesla charging station?

Tesla charging stations are usually only able to be used by Tesla vehicles, because they require their specialty brand of connector in order to fast charge the vehicle.

No other model of electric car carries the specific Tesla charger, so they cannot use charge stations that are only built for this type of charger.

A growing number of Tesla-branded charging stations are including charging ports for vehicles with J1772 connectors and CCS connectors.

These are used for DC fast charging and Level 2 charge stations.

Be aware that while only Tesla can charge at Tesla stations, it is also possible for them to charge at other charging stations as well.

Should you bring charging converters in your car?

There are several aftermarket cords that allow people to use charging stations that their electric car would not normally be able to use.

The most popular of these are after-market cords that claim to convert the power in Tesla charging stations to something that can be used by other models of electric vehicles.

For example, if the only public charging station near your home or office is a Tesla station, and you own a Nissan Leaf, you may want to invest in one of these charging converters in order to get power for your vehicle in case of an emergency.

If you live in an area that does not have a wide variety of charging stations, carrying these cords might be a good idea.

Some people also like to bring charging cords with them on long road trips. In the event that there is no public charging station, these cords can be used to convert any 120 V outlet into a charging station.

Some people who take their electric car to remote areas have used these cords to provide Level 1 charging for their cars in campgrounds and off-road hotels.

For the most part, this is unnecessary, however. 

For daily driving in most American cities, there are enough charging stations that bringing your own charging converters is unnecessary.

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