The battery in your electric vehicle is like the battery in your phone. When you step into your electric vehicle and turn it on, you’ll see a battery percentage icon on the dashboard. Much like your phone, your vehicle tells you not only the percent at which your EV battery is charged, but also a range estimate, updated in real-time, of how many miles you have until you’ll need to charge again.

The electric vehicle charging station at the southbound Kennebunk Plaza on the Maine Turpike. Dan King photo

Charging is like fueling, but without the smell of gasoline. Your battery has now dipped below 5 percent and you need to charge your vehicle. To find a charging station, most new electric vehicles inform you of the nearest EV charging station right on the dashboard using GPS, but EV charging stations can also be found at www.plugshare.com.

The charging network in Maine is increasing in size with every passing day, but it can take some orientation to know what to look for.

There are three well-established charging levels, each with a different speed. You’ll find that you don’t always need to charge fast to make an EV work for you. Home and work are the most common places people charge, and Level 1 charging and Level 2 charging are often sufficient to get you charged up overnight or during the workday.

Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V AC outlet and charges vehicles at a rate of 4 to 5 mph.

Level 2 charging uses 240V AC power and charges a vehicle at a rate of 12 to 80 mph. Level 2 chargers are also common at businesses and places where you might spend an hour or more.

For those longer trips, or any time you need a quicker charge, there is Level 3 charging, also known as DC fast charging, which uses 480V-plus power and can typically charge a vehicle to 80 percent in approximately 20jj to 30 minutes. These chargers tend to be located along popular travel corridors such as interstates, and are increasingly found at quick-stop locations, such as gas stations or eateries.

There are universal EV charger connectors, but not all vehicles use the same ones. There are five connector types used in the United States.

The J1772 connector is the most widely used and works with any EV on the market for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. The NEMA14-50 connector is less frequently used, but is sufficient for Level 1 and Level 2 charging at home. The CHAdeMO connector is used for Level 3 charging on Nissan and Mitsubishi models. The CCS Combo connector is used for Level 3 charging on every other make besides Tesla.

Tesla has their connectors unique to their own vehicles and prevent any other vehicle from charging, however, their network is incredibly widespread.

Charging for charging

Occasionally, EV charging is free and you can simply plug in and get a charge, but increasingly EV chargers require payment to charge. Much like you would pay for fuel by the gallon, you pay for electricity by the kilowatt hour (kWh). On average, it costs about half as much to drive an electric vehicle. There are many different networks, from EVgo to ChargePoint, who typically allow you to pay for electricity right at the station or on an app on your phone.

Be mindful of any rules or time restrictions. Similarly to the idea that you wouldn’t leave your vehicle parked in a fueling spot at a gas station, it is courteous to pay attention to your vehicle’s charging level and remove it from a spot when it is finished charging. Be sure to read any signage associated with the charger before using it, as there may be rules or time restrictions on an EV charger.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. The Sustainability Office is located on the first floor of city hall. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Cashel Stewart is sustainable transportation coordinator for South Portland. He can be reached at 207-767-3201, ext.7546 or [email protected]

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