Plug-in Hybrid

Recharging Plug-In Hybrid Cars

Recharging Plug-in Hybrids

How to Charge a Plug-in Hybrid

Think of a plug-in hybrid car (PHEV) as an electric car that has a gasoline-powered engine as backup. The idea here is that you can drive 28 to 60 miles (depending on the make and model of PHEV) on electric power to get to work or do errands around town without having to use gasoline. How do you charge up a PHEV? It's easy.

First of all, plug-in hybrid cars only use Level 1 and Level 2 charging. Level 1 means you can plug your car right in to any standard 120-volt electric power outlet to recharge it. The onboard chargers that come with most plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are only equipped to handle AC power, which can be extracted from standard home wall outlets. Level 2 charging will charge your car faster but you'll need to have a 240-volt outlet installed in your garage or use public charging stations. DC fast chargers are considered too powerful for most PHEVs due to the cars' lower battery capacities and onboard charger restrictions.

For Level 1 charging at home, your car comes with a 120-volt charger that can be switched from 8 to 12-amps for recharging. The 12-amp setting will charge up the car faster but they have been known to trip the circuit breaker depending on how your house is wired. Basically, with Level 1 charging, you can recharge anywhere that has a standard electrical outlet. The chargers themselves are designed to last for 30 years of daily charging.

Charging overnight is best, when electricity rates are at their lowest cost. Level 1 charging generally takes six hours to get you a full charge. If you have a 240-volt electrical socket wired up at home, your Level 2 charger can recharge your PHEV in about three hours.

If you drive your car to work, you can also recharge your plug-in hybrid at any standard electrical plug so that you can do your daily commute without using gasoline. For long road trips, you have the backup of the car's gasoline engine and gas tank to take you at least 300 miles before you have to refuel. Think of an PHEV as being the best of both worlds.