How to Charge an Electric Car Without a Garage


Electric cars have been having a steady rise in popularity over the last few years. But since they run on electricity rather than gas, they must be charged at home, usually in the garage. This task becomes a little more challenging if you don’t have a garage for the charging port to go in, but there is a way to charge your car without a garage.

The easiest way to charge your car without a garage is to charge it at a public charging station. But if you live somewhere without access to a personal garage, such as apartment or condo buildings, it’s still possible to charge an electric car there as well.

The following article is a guide on how to charge an electric car in an apartment or condo and in public. It also includes some tips on how to prolong your car’s battery life and how much it can cost to charge an electric car.

Can You Own an Electric Car Without a Garage?

If your home has working electricity, you can own and charge an electric car. It will make it a little more challenging, but it’s still possible. For example, you can still charge your car in the shared parking lot of an apartment building, but you might want to talk to the landlord about it. Other places you can charge your car, aside from a garage, include parking lots and public charging stations.

Charging an Electric Car Outside

Charging your car outside requires a little more equipment than just plugging a cord into an outlet. First, you want to make sure you have a designated parking space where you can park your vehicle every day. This is important because you will need a lot of electrical equipment to charge your car, so you want to make sure that your driveway or other parking space is yours alone.

The first piece of equipment that needs to be installed is called EVSE, or electric vehicle service equipment. It attaches to an external wall or a free-standing pole that’s near your car and is built to last in multiple outdoor conditions. The equipment then draws the electricity from the building it’s attached to and transfers that electricity to your car, charging it up.

You’ll want to have a professional electrician make sure it’s safe to install this equipment. You should also check to make sure the equipment won’t violate any building codes before starting the installation process. Once you have the all-clear, you can look for an EVSE on any electric car dealership’s website.

Most electric car brands give you the EVSE along with the car, but a few popular brands that only sell the charging stations include:

A few more popular EVSE brands can be found here to ensure you get the best one for your car.

Charging an Electric Car in an Apartment or Condo

If you live in an apartment or condo building, chances are you share a public parking lot with the other patrons. This makes installing a charging station a little harder since landlords tend to be stricter on what patrons can and can’t do to their property. You’ll have to discuss installing a charging station with your landlord and the building manager to see if it’s the best option for everyone living there.

You can still install one by your own parking space, but it will cost you and your landlord a lot of time and commitment that could be all for naught if you move. You also might not be able to charge your car when you need to if you don’t have an assigned parking space since anyone could be parked there at any time.

Charging an Electric Car in Public

If neither of these options works, the last option you have is to charge your car in public. If your workplace has a charging station installed in their parking garage or lot, you can charge your car there while it’s parked. But these aren’t too common, so double check before deciding to charge your car at work.

Public charging stations are becoming more common, and you can often find them at the following locations:

  • Hotels
  • New car dealerships
  • Retail parking lots
  • Public parking garages
  • Curbside stations

The amount of public charging stations depends on how many people own electric vehicles in your area. Always check to see if there are charging stations close by before you purchase your charging equipment and vehicle.

How Often Should I Charge My Electric Car

It takes about 60 hours for an electric vehicle to fully recharge, but of course, no one has that kind of time. Instead, you have to sporadically charge your vehicle throughout the day to make sure you have enough battery power. If you drive several miles every day, you’ll also have to charge it overnight.

Charging at Level 1 vs Level 2

Electric vehicle charging stations can charge your car at two different levels, level 1 and level 2. Charging at level 1 takes a little longer, with the car getting charged at about 4 miles per hour. Level 2, on the other hand, charges your car at 24 miles per hour, so more power in less time.

For example, a fully charged electric vehicle has 240 miles on it. Level 1 takes about 60 hours to reach that number, and level 2 takes about 10 hours. Level 2 is quicker than level 1, but most charging stations don’t have a level 2 option. And if they do, it usually costs more money per hour.

To avoid this, you have to ration the amount of time you charge your electric vehicle and take every chance you can to charge it. 

How Long to Charge Your Car to Get The Number of Miles You Need

Let’s say you drive about 100 miles per day, whether it be to work, school, or other activities. If you drive that amount, then you will need to charge your car every night since it takes about 25 hours total for a level 1 charger to reach that. You should also charge your car at every location possible to make sure you have enough power to get you through the day.

If you’re going to be driving a larger number of miles than usual, such as going on a trip, then you’ll need to let your car charge for longer. You should let your car charge for at least a full day to make sure you have enough power while still charging it for a little while at each station you come across.

What Happens if The Battery Hits Zero?

If you constantly drain the car’s battery down to zero before charging it again, then you’re going to cause long-term damage to the battery. A battery that doesn’t have enough juice to power what it needs to will start eating away at itself, eventually breaking down enough to where it won’t work.

To avoid this, try to keep your car charge at around 20% to 80%. This range will ensure you will have enough power between charging stations and prevent the battery from damage.

How Much Electric Cars Cost to Charge

The cost of charging your electric car depends on where you charge it the most often. For example, if you charge your car at home, then the cost significantly goes up. But if you charge your car sporadically at public charging stations, the price significantly decreases for the short term.

What It Costs to Charge Your Car at Home

If you have a personal charging station installed in your home, such as on an outdoor wall, the cost can range from $500 to $1,200. This cost pertains to the station itself and depends on how many features come with it. In addition to the charging station itself, you’ll also have to look into how much it costs to have a professional install it and any permit costs that come with your property.

Charging your car at home without a garage requires a significant investment and commitment, so make sure there aren’t any better options before making this decision.

What It Costs to Charge Your Car at Charging Stations

Public charging stations charge by either the hour or the minute, depending on how long you charge your car. For example, if you charge your car for one hour at 0.29 cents per minute, then it’ll cost you about $17 to charge your vehicle.

Charging your car at charging stations costs less money in the short term, but you won’t get it fully charged because of the amount of time allotted for each car. If you only drive a few miles a day, then this is a good option.

But if you’d rather have a fully charged car for the long term, then investing in a home charging station is the better option. It will cost a little more time and effort to install it somewhere else besides a garage, but it might be the only option if you don’t have access to charging stations.

Tips to Make Charging Your Car More Efficient

If access to charging stations is a little more difficult for you depending on where you live, or you just want to save power, then there are ways to more efficiently charge your car, even without a garage. The most helpful tips to charging your car more efficiently include:

  • Minimizing exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Don’t charge to extremes
  • Don’t charge too fast or for too long
  • Plan your route ahead of time

Following these tips will help maximize your charging time and help make sure the car has enough charge to last for a while between charging stations.

Minimize Exposing the Car To Extreme Temperatures

This is especially true if you charge your car outside most of the time. Exposing the car to temperatures that are too hot or too cold can interfere with your car’s ability to regulate its temperature. Temperatures that are too hot can short out the charging system, while temperatures that are too cold can cause it to freeze up.

If you live somewhere with extra hot weather, parking your car in shady spots as often as possible will help keep it from overheating. This can be under some shade in your driveway or a parking lot. You should also try to plug it in if you can, to help regulate the car’s temperature using grid power, but only when the car is under some shade. Charging the car when it’s in the sun will cause it to heat up faster.

Avoiding cold temperatures is a little harder since you can’t always keep your car warm. If you charge your car outside, then avoiding this might be more difficult.

The only thing you can do to keep the car’s temperature regulated is to keep the car plugged in as much as possible. The electrical charge will help keep the car’s temperature regulated without causing it to overheat.

Don’t Charge to 100% or Drain to 0%

Charging or draining the car to either of the extremes will cause its lifespan to shorten significantly. Electric cars completely shut off way before they reach 0%, usually when it reaches around 10%. The car does this to prevent it from using more power than it has and suddenly stopping in the middle of the road.

The more the car has to use this reservoir, the quicker the life gets drained out of it. If you do this every once in a while, then the car’s battery will be alright, but constantly draining it to 0 will shorten its lifespan. You should plug your electric car in when you start to see the power supply reaching 20% or 30%. This will guarantee that you still have enough power without running the risk of letting the car’s power drain completely.

On the other hand, charging the car’s battery 100% isn’t a good idea either. Charging the car to about 80% is better for its lifespan since it leaves space for regenerative braking. Regenerative braking means the car’s energy can be used and reused if there’s enough space in the car’s power supply. The more energy that’s reused, the longer the car’s life span will be overall.

Don’t Charge Your Car for Too Long or Too Fast

Charging your car as fast as possible sounds like a great way to get back on the road fast. It might also sound like a good idea if you only have access to charging stations or don’t have a garage to charge it in.

But charging your car for short amounts of time is actually very damaging to your car. Each time you use the quick charge method, you drain a little more life from the car.

For example, if you charge consistently for a few hours each day over the years, then your car will still have about 80% of its life span left. Car engines naturally age and break down over time, so the 20% of its life span that was lost is just due to the natural aging process. However, if you charge your car haphazardly, say about thirty minutes every couple of hours for years, then your car will have about 70% of its life span left.

The shortened lifespan happens because the car has to use more power in a condensed amount of time to charge the car and keep its power and temperature regulated. When it isn’t given a solid amount of time to do this, it has to work quicker and use more energy. Let your car charge consistently for a few hours each day to avoid this.

You should also not let your car charge for too long since it can get overpowered. If the car is left to charge after it reaches 100%, then it can get overheated. It then must use more power to keep its temperature regulated, thus draining its life span faster. Unplug your electric car when the power supply reaches about 80%. This will ensure that you still have plenty of power, without causing the car to overheat.

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

Planning your driving route ahead of time will help you make sure you have enough power before getting on the road. If you cannot charge your car fully because you don’t have a garage, planning ahead will also help you figure out where charging stations are along the way.

Knowing the number of miles you have to drive can help you figure out how long you have to charge your car for. For example, if you’re driving 100 miles, then you’ll probably need to charge your car for at least a full day to make sure you have enough power and won’t have to stop at charging stations.

You can also find out if there are charging stations along your route that you can use in case of an emergency. If there are a few stations you can stop at along the way, then you don’t have to worry as much about having enough time to charge your car. On the other hand, if there aren’t any, then you’ll know for sure that you have to charge your car for a certain amount of time to have enough power.

Being prepared will help prolong your car’s life by ensuring you won’t have to worry about the power draining to zero or doing the quick charge method. The reasons for avoiding these circumstances have been discussed previously, and planning your route lessens the chances of these events occurring.

Final Thoughts

Charging your electric car when you don’t have a garage is a little more difficult but not impossible. If you charge the car whenever you can and invest as much time and money into charging it as possible, then it will run smoothly and safely while you drive it.

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