Electric vehicles are often touted as a way to reduce emissions and save money on gas. As they become more common, people are installing charging stations at home for convenience. But there are also lots of charging stations going in at workplaces, transit hubs, and other accessible locations—and there are surprising reasons to use them.

Charging while you’re at work can save you money

As home charging stations become more common, more electric vehicle drivers are leaving their car plugged in at home overnight, much like we do with our phones. But a car needs a lot more of a charge than a phone does. With an increasing number of EVs drawing power around the same time of day off the residential electric grid, the demand on the electric grid during peak hours is increasing. While the current load is manageable, the more people who opt for electric vehicles, the more demand there will be on residential infrastructure.

While you might not yet be concerned about burdening the local electrical distribution system, there’s another key reason that charging during the day is a good choice: It can save you money. In many places, utility companies will charge more for power use during “peak hours,” which are early evenings and mornings. That’ because these are times when the power distribution system is doing the most work to produce enough electricity to meet demand. During the middle of the day, usage is generally more efficient and power grids are the least stressed, sometimes producing a surplus of the necessary power to meet the needs of the population, so the rates for electricity usage usually go down. If you can charge your vehicle during the day, it will often cost less overall, even if you’re still the one paying for the electricity.

The benefits of charging at a public station or at work

Generally, if you’re charging your EV during the day, you will be using public charging stations or a charging station at work. The average amount it can cost you in the U.S. to charge your vehicle at home is $55 per month, you can save an average of $660 annually by using a public charging option for free. While it can be challenging in some places to find a charging station near where you work, more options are becoming available as demand grows for EV infrastructure so it’s worth looking into.

And there’s another benefit to charging at a public station rather than at home: To charge your vehicle at home, you will need to have a charger installed that is rated at 240v. That installation can cost you between $350 and $1,400, depending on the type of charger you choose. While most public chargers are rapid chargers that will give you a full charge in a few hours, a slower, less expensive charger can take up to 20 hours to provide a complete charge. Opting for a quick charger at home will increase installation costs.

Also keep in mind that the vehicle is usually designed to plug into a standard 120v wall outlet: For fire safety reasons, you shouldn’t use an extension cord for regular use, so you’ll need to have an outlet near where you park if you want to charge at home.

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