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Things You Need to Know Before Buying an Electric Car

Updated on August 8, 2017

Increasing numbers of people are buying or leasing electric cars. While concern for the environment can play a role in that decision, in many cases people are doing it to save money or for convenience. An electric car can be charged in your garage, which means you don't have to make regular visits to a gas station. I live in a heavily populated area, so avoiding busy gas stations is a big plus. Electric vehicles are also quite powerful making them fun to drive. Smaller EV's are also very easy to park because they can fit in tight parking spaces. But there are some things you need to consider before buying or leasing an electric vehicle.

You Need a Place to Charge the Vehicle

This isn't an issue if you own your own home. But if you live in an apartment or condo, you have to consider where you will charge your vehicle.

Cost to Charge

It's estimated that per mile costs for an electric vehicle are one third those of a gasoline vehicle. Call your utility company to see if they have a plan available for electric car owners. Many power companies charge lower rates during the night, so you can charge your car at night to keep costs down. I have solar panels that generate most of my electricity, including the energy used by my car, so my costs are very low. Everyone's situation varies though, so you really need to look into costs before making a decision.

Miles per Charge

Cheaper electric cars often have a range of about 100 miles. But that can depend on driving conditions and how hilly an area is. If you live close to work and shopping this won't be an issue. Many people buy or lease an electric car in addition to owning a gasoline powered car, which they can use for longer distance drives. If an electric car will be your only car, you need to take distance into account. EV charging stations are often hard to find and even with the fastest charge options it can take at least 30 minutes to recharge your car. Even worse, it's not unusual for one or more chargers at a charging station to be malfunctioning. More expensive electric car models like the Tesla Model S can go between 300 and 400 miles on a single charge.

EV Charging Station Issues

You can use Google Maps and special apps like PlugShare and NextCharge to find electric vehicle charging stations. However, not all stations take credit cards directly. Some require an account with that specific company. Companies like Blink will allow nonmembers to charge their vehicles but the Blink app is required to get a guest code.

Charging Time

An electric car with a roughly 100 mile range needs about 14 to 15 hours to fully charge using a regular 120 volt outlet. This isn't an issue for many drivers because they don't use up close to 100% of the charge. If you've used up only 50% of the charge, your car will be fully charged if it's plugged in overnight. However, if you come home late at night, and have used up much of the charge, the car won't be fully charged in the morning. That's something to consider if you like to stay out late some evenings but still have to be up for work early in the morning.

You can install a fast charger in your garage. Fast chargers can cost around $500 to $700 and you'll need a 240 volt charger in your garage. Before buying or leasing a car, ask the dealership how much the charger will cost. If you don't have a 240 volt plug in your garage, you will also need to hire an electrician to install one. That could be costly.

Installing a home EV charger can be expensive

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