GreenCars 101
Plug-In Hybrids

Charging a Plug-In Hybrid

Dave Nichols
Jul 2023
Plug-in hybrids offer the fuel-efficiency of a hybrid but with all-electric power to get around town. Charging your PHEV is easy. Here’s what you need to know.
Women charging vehicle

Charging a Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle

Plug-in Hybrid cars (PHEV) use a battery pack to power an electric motor and gasoline to power a gasoline engine. The average PHEV will take you anywhere from 25 to 60 miles on all-electric power before switching over to gasoline, saving you money and helping to lower your carbon footprint. Recharging your plug-in hybrid is easy. In fact, the charger uses a standard 120-volt wall plug, just like your toaster or blender.

Your plug-in hybrid’s onboard charger takes the incoming AC current and converts it to DC power for charging the battery. It also monitors the voltage, current, and state of charge. There is a charging port on your plug-in hybrid as well as a separate standard gasoline fill spout. After running your daily errands or after you return home from work, you can charge your plug-in hybrid at home and have a full charge when you head out the following morning.

Women charging car at station

How to Charge a Plug-In Hybrid

The act of charging up your plug-in hybrid is as simple as recharging your smartphone. Simply, plug the charger into a wall plug in your garage or carport, open the charger cover, plug the charger into your charging port, and your car will do the rest.

The charging units are designed to be rugged and are good for 10,000 charge cycles, so it will last a long time. If you charge up your car once a day, the charger is built to last for 30 years. Your car can detect if the plug is still attached so you can’t drive off without unplugging your car.

Level 1 charging uses a standard 120 wall plug while Level 2 utilizes a 220-volt outlet. Many plug-in hybrid owners have a local electrical plumb a new 220-volt line in their garage to speed up charging times.

With the portable recharging unit, you can recharge your PHEV anywhere there is an electrical outlet. Plus, plug-in hybrids allow you to use level 1 or level 2 charging at public charging stations.

Woman at home charging car

How Often to Charge

Most Americans travel less than 40 miles per day. That means that on average, you will use very little gasoline in your plug-in hybrid. You plug it in every night and have a full charge when you wake up in the morning. By charging overnight, you’ll be charging during off-peak hours. For longer trips, the car will switch between electric and gasoline power as needed. It all happens in a completely seamless manner to the consumer.

Inside of car charging info

How Long It Takes to Charge a Plug-In Hybrid

Your plug-in hybrid can be charged with level 1 or level 2 charging at home. Level 1 is a standard 120-volt, and you just plug your charger into a wall plug. For level 2 charging, you’ll need a 240-volt outlet. There are handy A/B switches that you can buy that plug into the clothes dryer’s 240-volt outlet. If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet in your garage, you’ll need to have an electrician install one to use 240 current at home to charge your PHEV with level 2.

The difference in charging time is significant. Level 1 charging takes about six hours, while level 2 charging will recharge your plug-in hybrid to full in about three hours. An indicator on your car’s dashboard will let you know when the battery is fully charged.

Woman paying at charger

Cost of Charging

As of this writing, it costs approximately 80 cents to recharge your plug-in hybrid to a full charge. The average PHEV will use around $300 of electricity per year. By comparison, a gasoline powered car that averages 30 miles per gallon would cost at least $1,800 a year to fuel for the same amount of driving. So, with a plug-in hybrid, you will enjoy major fuel savings as well as reduce greenhouse gasses for a greener world.

A young couple admiring the forest and trees next to their RAV4 Hybrid

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