Thoughts On EV Driving
After 18 months of owning and driving an electric vehicle (EV), and collecting notes after notes after notes, it is finally time to share some thoughts/tips/tricks.
TL&DR; Owning an EV is AMAZING and really feels like the future in just about every way possible
For this post, I’m trying to keep thoughts generic across the concept of EVs, without anything too specific about the specific model of car that I’m owning and driving. I think these thoughts are valuable in having a discussion about migrating away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles and towards electric, without any baggage of particular brands/owners/companies to get in the way.
- Charging at home️
The #1 top thing – daily - no longer consciously thinking “do i have enough gas?”. No longer running late and having to find a gas station on your way. No more freezing cold and pumping gas! Cannot emphasize this enough! There’s so much talk about charging stations and such, but it just mostly doesn’t matter when you charge at home.
- Cheaper fuel
At least in Omaha, our OPPD power is roughly 1/4 or less the price of gas - on a $/mile basis. I think EV marketing is really missing out by not emphasizing the $/mile advantages of electric over gas.
- Starting car in closed garage
Pre-condition your car inside your garage without worrying about opening the garage. Can’t do this with a gas car! It is so handy and it feels like the future. In Omaha the temp outside is either way too HOT or too COLD most of the year.
- Regenerative “braking”
Instead of coasting, your car will regenerate the battery when it slows down. Great for 2 reasons! 1) when city driving, all those slowdowns and stops actually help keep more energy in your battery. 2) It SAVES your brakes! Seriously, you end up using your brakes so much less, basically only for fast/hard stops. Usually never even have to touch your brakes.
- No oil changes‼️
Almost no maintenance, really. Tires and wiper fluid. Brakes should last a lot longer because of regen. No oil, no belts, no transmission fluid, etc…
- So quiet
You quickly get used to hearing how loud other vehicles are
- Instant torque
Pretty fun to be so quick. No engine to rev up, so your car just goes when you need it to!
- Optimal Charging level 50% for peak battery life
Depends. Some batteries want to be 100%. Many EV batteries are happier at 50%. It took a little getting used to it for me to top-up at 75% daily. I only go to 100% before road trips. This will save my battery capacity over the years.
- Home Overnight Charging
Home charging is not fast. It’ll mostly take you overnight to fully charge. But that is okay! I normally get down to around 35-40% and then every morning I’m back to 75% when I wake up. I have ZERO range anxiety on a daily basis. I can easily go 150+ miles without thinking about it daily, but I’m usually more like 20-30 miles.
- Off-peak charging
In Omaha our electric is same price all day, but many places it is cheaper at night. So setting your car to charge overnight can be cheaper. But I set mine to charge before 7:30AM because the car also warms to charge and this saves energy by warming when I also want to pre-condition the inside.
- Scheduled departure charging
Just super handy to have a warm/cool car when you want it daily. Mine can do this depending on GPS location which is a plus too.
I drive 2-3 hours away every couple of months. Omaha to Des Moines, or KC. Have also gone farther to Minneapolis.
- Superchargers (DC Fast Charging)
These are the best. You can top up from 25%-85% in roughly 18-22 minutes for ~$15 in my experience. Often times these stations are near convenience stores, grocery stores, or even at gas stations. So in roughly the time it takes to stretch your legs and get some snacks you’ll be ready to get back on the road.
- Level 2 Chargers
This is basically like home charging. Wonderful if your hotel has one! Perfect for overnight charges! City governments like to put these in random places like shopping areas. But it takes 6-8 hours to get a decent charge so more useful at hotels.
- Charging Speed
The lower your charge, the faster it is. So from 5%-60% is pretty fast. From 60-90% is a little slower. From 90%-100% takes quite a while. So ideally you’ll drive until you get around 15-20% then top up, as you can add more charge faster. I still struggle with this as I get nervous below 20-25% but it’s all mental.
- Road trips take a little planning
Interstate driving is pretty easy. But going off interstate takes a bit of planning. There are still areas I won’t take my EV (like Okoboji or Branson) where the route is off-interstate and there are fewer (if any) fast chargers. Planning ahead to make sure you have enough charge to get there, and then to get to a charger or return home, takes time.
- ABRP and PlugShare
The A Better Route Planner and PlugShare sites are the go-to for planning your trips and finding chargers.
- Pre-warm battery for charging
Tell your car in advance that you’ll be charging soon, so it’ll get your battery warmed and ready to charge as fast as possible.
- Charging to connected credit card
Super convenient to just plug-in and have the app already know your credit card. Set it up ahead of time.
- Need for hotel level 2 chargers
Glad to hear Hilton is adding more. This will only get better.
- 240 Outlet is good enough
A 50-amp outlet can charge about 30 miles/per hour to my battery, which is plenty. If I hardwired a charger box, it could be about 37-44 miles/hour of charge. But that box costs ~$400-500. For me it just isn’t worth it. So I have a simple NEMA 6-50 outlet in my garage. A 14-50 (RV outlet) would also work fine.
- Finding an electrician
This was difficult for me. A few that advertise as EV Electrician Installers had prices around double what I expected. I found some HotTub/Spa installers that were better priced, and they routinely put in 240 outlets. I had to do a lot of research on my own to understand what was needed though. I probably could have done it myself but I was too nervous running that high of a charge on my own.
- Use High Quality Outlet
My electrician put in a cheap Lutron outlet. It worked fine for a year and then my car started complaining about the charger being too hot. I then found that everyone recommends a Hubbell outlet. So save yourself a ton of time and install a Hubbell brand from the get go. They aren’t that much more and you’ll need it.
- Tax write-off
The cost is partially covered by an IRS tax write-off, which was really nice
- It’s heavy- EV’s weigh a bunch more. You mostly won’t notice but it does help in the snow.
- Uses special tires - Because of the weight, EV’s need slightly special tires. Some also have padding to help with road noise, or so I hear.
- Frunk space - kinda cool to have extra storage in the front!
- Regen braking and coasting - it does take a week or two of driving to get used to this
- Regen low when cold - Cold weather affects the battery. The regen won’t work as well. Also you’ll have less overall range.
- Lots of talk about range, but little about efficiency between cars Wh/mi
If you’re shopping for an EV, compare how efficient your car is to the other EVs. There are wild differences and the costs will add up in the long term
- Price is cheaper than you think! Seriously, all cars are expensive now. The average car costs way more than you’d think! EVs are often cheaper than an average new car (yes, even Teslas!) so if you’re looking for a new car anyway definitely look for an EV.
- Federal and Local Incentives
The Federal and Local incentives are pretty good and don’t forget to look into them