Electric Car Charging Safety Tips

You can easily plug in your electric car, walk away, and let the battery recharge — much like your mobile phone. However, an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery is bigger and more powerful than the device you carry in your pocket or purse, and its charging cord carries far more electricity. While EV charging is safe when using the right equipment, you must follow some steps to help ensure the car’s battery health and your own well-being.

Keep reading to learn electric car charging safety tips to reduce the risk of fire or injury from electrical shock.

Safe Charging at Home

Home charging is the easiest and most practical way to recharge your electric car. If charging at home is an option, you can choose from two types of charging.

Level 1

Level 1 is the slowest method for charging an EV. However, using this trickle charging is easy and requires no special installation. A Level 1 charger comes with many electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) to connect to a standard 120-volt AC outlet, which many garages have. Aftermarket Level 1 charging cables are available for purchase.

  • Select charging equipment that is certified to meet safety standards.
  • Plug Level 1 charging cords directly into an outlet that can handle the amperage.
  • Never use an extension cord or multiplug adapter for EV charging.
  • Charging cables are a tripping hazard, so be aware of the cable’s location.

Level 2

Using a Level 2 charging station at home allows many EV and PHEV owners to plug in overnight and replenish the mileage range used in their daily commute.

  • Level 2 chargers require a dedicated 240-volt circuit to avoid overload.
  • Qualified electricians must install the equipment.
  • Maintain the charging station’s parts and replace damaged or worn components that can malfunction.
  • Cover outdoor charging equipment to prevent water damage.

Pro tip: It is generally safe to charge an electric car when it is raining. However, the owner’s manual has the manufacturer’s specific guidance for charging in wet conditions.

Public Charging

2022 Kia EV6 charging at night

Electric car drivers can utilize more than 50,000 public charging stations nationwide when away from home. Constant exposure to the elements and having many users make these chargers susceptible to excessive wear. A damaged charger is an unsafe charger, one that could cause harm to you or your EV when plugging it in.

  • Before plugging in your car, inspect the charger for apparent signs of damage.
  • Ensure the plug fastens snugly into the car’s charging port, as broken clips may prevent a secure and unsafe connection.

Level 3 DC Fast Chargers account for about 6,800 of the country’s public chargers. They are safe to use, but for EV battery health, it’s best to limit taking advantage of these high-voltage chargers that charge a battery rapidly. While convenient for out-of-town road trips, DC Fast Charging strains the battery, and frequent use can negatively affect performance and durability.

Pro tip: Keeping your battery’s state of charge between 20% and 80% will maximize its useful life. There are exceptions to this widely accepted rule of thumb, and your owner’s manual will say what’s best for your EV.

Personal Safety When Charging

Some public charging stations are located conveniently in parking areas near shop entrances. However, other locations place chargers at the far corner of the lots. Use common sense and do not exit your car if you feel unsafe.

  • Keep the doors locked if you sit in the car while charging.
  • Lock the vehicle if you leave it unattended while charging.
  • Always be mindful of your surroundings.

Safety Recalls

It is crucial to stay on top of any safety recalls for your vehicle, especially if the problem is related to the car’s battery, which is the most expensive component. Manufacturers make efforts to notify you of any recalls that can affect your vehicle, and media outlets alert the public about significant safety issues.

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