I've owned an electric car for four months and not used a public charger once

I've owned an electric car for four months and not used a public charger once

I’ve owned an electric car since mid-December and haven’t used public charging once. The full spaces at the nearest Electrify America station and/or the broken screens at the nearest Electrify America station have been of utterly no consequence to my family’s daily use of our 2023 Kia Niro EV. This is a point that just doesn’t get made enough in the conversation about EVs: Most of their charging happens at home. Specifically, about 80% of it, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Putting aside that it’s cheaper to charge at home (versus a gas station and public charger), the convenience of doing so is one of the most appealing parts of EV ownership. Instead of going to a gas station every so often, something exactly 0% of the population likes to do, you just plug the car in every night or, as we do, once every couple of days when the charge gets low-ish. Do I miss my visits to the nearest 76 station? Can’t say I do, especially since I’ve moved from Oregon and no longer get to sit nice and comfy in my car while a law-mandated 76 employee fills my tank.

Early on, charging at home was admittedly a tad janky. First, I had to buy a universal 120-volt charge cord off Amazon since Kia does not provide one with their electrified vehicles. More on that in a moment. Next, I had to duct tape that charger to the garage rafters because the only electrical outlet close enough to reach the Niro was the one used by the garage door opener. My Z3 didn’t seem to mind. Charging with this basic cord and home electrical outlet required keeping the Niro plugged in every night or at least every other night, but I can’t say that impacted my life. That said, a quick turn-around after a longer drive would’ve been an issue and almost certainly would’ve sent me to that EA station.

Inevitably, I would’ve at least installed a 240-volt outlet closer to the front of my garage to greatly decrease charge times (and jankiness), but was instead given the opportunity to test a new Wallbox Pulsar Plus home charging unit. Admittedly, unlike testing a Yakima roof box or electric bicycle that go back to the manufacturer after a few weeks, a home charger is a rather permanent thing. There are electricians, permits and inspectors involved, and you know, bolting something to my garage wall and wiring it into my home’s electrical panel. I’ll be telling more of that story at a later date, but suffice it to say, I’m getting to experience for free something that would normally be much pricier than a simple 240-volt outlet installation. The Pulsar Plus 48A retails for $699 and installation and permits were $1,645. Yeah, not cheap.


So why bother with the fancy charger when my father-in-law had his electrician install a 240-volt outlet in his garage for $75? The home charger is much quicker, and this particular one allows you to alter the amount of amperage flowing into your car (good for avoiding peak electricity rates or overtaxing your house’s electrical box), monitor charging with an app, schedule charge times, keep track of how much you’re paying for electricity, and potentially future-proofing yourself for later EVs that’ll be able to charge even quicker than those today. Already I’ve turned up and down amperage based on various test cars’ charging capability (the Niro can max it out at 40 amps). It also has an extra-long 25-foot-long charge cord that’s been huge for plugging in various press cars with different charge point locations.

Mostly, though, we just plug the Niro in and forget about it. The 120-volt Amazon charge cord hasn’t left the Niro’s frunk since we had the Pulsar Plus installed, somewhat vindicating Kia’s decision to not include one, and again, we have yet to use a public charging station. Same goes for those various electric press cars that I test for a week at a time.