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Can You Plug an Electric Car Into a Regular Outlet?

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet

The electric car is becoming the future of the automotive industry, gaining widespread popularity amongst the average consumers. Unlike gas-powered cars that need refueling in a gas station, electric cars may be charged at home.

Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet? Yes, you can. Electric car charging can either have level 1 (120 volt AC) or level 2 (240 volt AC) at home, or DC Fast charging at 480 volts at charging stations.

Outlets for Charging an Electric Vehicle


1. Level 1


Level 1 charging makes use of 120 volts. The charging station, also known as the electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE, is portable and can charge an electric car with a regular outlet.

  • Level 1 charging is a good solution for cars with small battery packs and owners that have opportunities to charge the vehicle for long periods of time.
  • The biggest benefit of level 1 charging is that owners would not need a special outlet for an electric car. Since 120 volt outlets are everywhere in the US, owners can charge electric cars at home overnight, or at work when the car is parked. We can even charge a Tesla with a regular outlet with their provided adapters.
  • The main drawback is the long ‘refuel’ time, since the plug only draws around 1.4 kilowatts at 120 volts (or 12 amps) that only adds around 4 miles of range per hour. This would be fine for charging an electric vehicle for short drives, but it may not be appropriate for larger vehicles or for owners who drive long distances frequently.
  • Also, take note that level 1 charging may draw 12 amps, so the circuit must be able to handle this, especially for older homes.
  • Otherwise, the circuit breaker might frequently trip. For instance, a 15 amp dedicated circuit (with no other appliances hooked to it) is required to charge Nissan Leaf regular outlet and can serve as a trickle charger.

2. Level 2


Level 2 charging makes use of 240/208 volts. Electric car outlet requirements for this level involve a NEMA 14-50 receptacle that is used for 240-volt 30-amp circuits or more, and it is slowly becoming the electric car plug standard.

Interestingly, this outlet might actually be available at home if the house already has larger equipment like electric clothes dryers.

But if this outlet is not available, it can be easily and cheaply installed by an electrician; just make sure the car plug fits the charger first.

It’s not true that electric cars need special outlets with level 2 chargers; they may need a new circuit and two breaker slots, however.

If the outlet is not too far, you might be able to plug an electric car into an extension cord or a splitter if you use the right amp rating (don’t downgrade this).

  • The biggest benefit of level 2 charging over level 1 is the higher charging rates. Because of the higher voltage capacity of the circuit, level 2 chargers can draw more current and provide more miles of range per hour. For example, a 30 amp circuit can give around 15 miles per hour and a 50 amp circuit around 25 miles of range per hour.
  • The main drawback for level 2 happens when we need higher charging power. Because more powerful chargers will draw higher amps (around 50 amps and above), we might need to spend more money to meet the charger requirements.
  • Thicker wires are needed for higher amps (which are more expensive), and the service panel might need to be evaluated to see if it can handle that much power.

3. DC fast charging


DC fast charging (sometimes called level 3 by some people) uses 480 volts DC or higher. It’s the one available at charging stations and is not for home use. This is best used in between stops during long distance driving.

How to Charge an Electric Car?


Charging an electric car using level 1 and level 2 chargers simply requires plugging the charger to the outlet then plugging the car to the charger. But arrangements may need to be considered in certain settings.

For charging setups in multi-dwelling homes or at work, talk to the managers before powering your vehicle. Check their requirements and come up with a payment setup, so charging the vehicle will not be an issue.

For public stations, download the station’s app to automatically charge the payment to your credit card. Plug the charger to the car and check the app for your bill.

Frequently asked questions


Can I charge my electric car for free?


Free public chargers are available. PlugShare may help find available charging stations, even those that cost no money. Just be aware of the charging times and the long lines.

What is the importance of charging an electric car at home?

It’s convenient when electric cars plug into regular outlets at home. You can leave them charging when sleeping and take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off peak hours. You also don’t have to go to a public charging station frequently.

How long does it take to charge an electric car with a standard outlet?


It depends on the size of the battery in the car and the current capacity of the outlet and charger. A larger battery will take a longer time to charge, but a rough estimate will be 10 to 40 hours on a level 1 charger. For level 2, overnight is the typical duration.


Charging at home is one of the most practical things to consider when purchasing an electric vehicle. Asking “Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet?” can get you a variety of answers, but most certainly, you can plug them into regular outlets using level 1 chargers.

Of course, using level 2 chargers is the way to go, especially if you have an existing 30 amp circuit for dryers, but level 1 units have a place in your home as trickle chargers.

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