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Quick Guide to PHEV Charging

Updated: Apr 11

PHEV charging

Many electric car drivers have range anxiety. They are concerned about running out of charge and getting stranded, or else having to make inconvenient stops to recharge their electric vehicle (EV) batteries. For this reason, demand for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is high. Read on to learn about charging a PHEV at home and on the go.

What is a PHEV?

A PHEV is a hybrid vehicle that combines an internal combustion engine with a rechargeable battery. PHEVs can be charged using an external power source, offering a limited all-electric range before switching to gasoline. This dual capability increases fuel efficiency and reduces greenhouse emissions, making PHEVs an excellent option for drivers transitioning to electric mobility.

How do hybrids charge?

Hybrid cars typically charge through regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine. Additionally, some hybrid models are plug-in hybrids, allowing users to charge their batteries by plugging into an external power source, such as an electrical outlet or a charging station, providing an extended electric-only driving range.

How long does it take to charge a PHEV battery?

Charging a PHEV depends on factors like battery capacity, the EV charger, and the existing battery charge. Level 1 Charging (120V) is the slowest, taking 8 to 12 hours for a full charge. Level 2 Charging (240V) at public EV charging stations or homes ranges from 1.5 to 3 hours. Level 3 Charging (DC Fast Chargers) offers rapid charging in minutes if compatible with the vehicle.

How long does it take to recharge a fully discharged PHEV using a level 1 charger?

Charging time depends on the size of the PHEV battery, typically ranging from about 13.6 kWh (e.g., Toyota Prius Prime) to 20 kWh (e.g., Mitsubishi Outlander). A level 1 EV charger delivers roughly 1.2 kW to a PHEV battery. Experts advise maintaining PHEV batteries between 20% and 80% charge. Following this recommendation, it would take approximately 6.7 to 10 hours to charge a PHEV battery using a level 1 charger.

What chargers are compatible with a PHEV?

PHEVs are compatible with Level 1 chargers using standard outlets, and most PHEVs come with the necessary hardware. They can also use Level 2 chargers commonly found at public stations or home installations. Also, some PHEVs may support DC Fast Chargers (DCFC), which offer the most rapid charging.

Can I charge my PHEV with a fast charger?

PHEVs generally cannot use DC fast chargers, also known as level 3 chargers. These EV charging stations provide a high voltage direct current (DC) power source, allowing for rapid charging of electric cars. However, PHEVs are designed with smaller battery capacities compared to fully electric vehicles and typically rely on level 1 or level 2 charging options. However, select models have PHEV fast charger capabilities.

What are the fastest charging PHEVs?

Several PHEV models offer fast charging capabilities, making them the fastest charging PHEVs. Some of the PHEVs that are equipped to utilize DC fast chargers, per the automaker's websites, include:

  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: This model features a CHAdeMO port, making this PHEV compatible with fast chargers.

  • Volvo XC40 Recharge T5: The PHEV version of the Volvo XC40 Recharge offers PHEV fast charger capabilities with the CCS charging standard.

  • MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4: This PHEV from MINI is capable of using DCFCs, making it one of the fastest charging PHEVs available.

How do I know if my PHEV has fast charger capabilities?

The fastest charging PHEVs have connectors for using DC fast chargers. In North America, one common type of DCFC plug is the Combined Charging System (CCS). Another type of DCFC plug is the CHAdeMO connector, commonly used by Japanese carmakers, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, for fast charging. Determine if your PHEV has a fast charging port or refer to manufacturer information to determine if your PHEV has fast charging capabilities.

phev fast charger

How much does it cost to charge a PHEV?

The cost to charge a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle varies based on electricity rates, the battery charge level, and the battery capacity. The average cost per kWh of electricity in the U.S. as of January 2024 is $0.127, but some EV charging stations may charge a higher rate. For example, if it takes 6 kWh to fully charge a PHEV at the cost of $0.20 per kWh, the cost would be $1.20.

Electricity rates and charging costs can vary widely by location and utility provider. Also, the cost of charging may vary for Level 2 and DC fast charging methods, and charging a PHEV with a fast charger is often more expensive.

Can I use public charging stations for my PHEV?

Yes, you can use public charging stations for your plug-in hybrid. Public charging networks, like ChargePoint and EVgo, offer Level 2 charging stations compatible with most PHEVs. Ensure your PHEV has the appropriate EV charging connector and, if necessary, an adapter. While most PHEVs do support Level 3 fast charging, many can utilize Level 2 stations for convenient and faster charging away from home.

Where can I charge my PHEV?

You can charge your plug-in hybrid at various locations, including home charging stations, workplace EV chargers, and public EV charging networks. Popular charging networks like EVgo, ChargePoint, and Electrify America offer widespread access to public EV charging stations, ensuring convenient charging options for PHEV owners on the go. 

Do I need a special charger to charge my plug-in hybrid at home?

In most cases, you do not need a special charger to charge your PHEV at home. Most plug-in hybrids come with a Level 1 charging cable, which can be plugged into a standard household electrical outlet. This basic charging setup is convenient for overnight charging.

However, you may install a Level 2 charging station for faster charging at home. Level 2 chargers operate at 240V and are more powerful than standard household outlets. While not absolutely necessary, a Level 2 charger can significantly reduce charging time compared to Level 1.

How big are PHEV batteries?

The battery pack capacity of plug-in hybrid varies, typically ranging from around 8 kWh to 20 kWh. However, some premium models, such as the Polestar 1 (with a 34 kWh battery) and the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid (with a 25.9 kWh battery), have a larger capacity battery pack.

The PHEV battery capacity and the efficiency of the vehicle determine the all-electric range, with larger batteries typically providing more electric-only driving distance before the internal combustion engine is engaged. However, larger PHEV batteries mean long charging times if the battery is largely discharged.

What happens if I don’t charge my PHEV?

If you don't charge your PHEV, it will operate solely on gasoline, utilizing its internal combustion engine. While this allows continued driving without electric charging, it decreases the benefits of reduced emissions and increased fuel efficiency associated with electric-only operation. Regularly charging the PHEV ensures optimal utilization of its dual power sources and enhanced overall efficiency.

What is the all-electric range of a PHEV?

The all-electric range of a PHEV varies depending on the model. Generally, PHEVs offer electric-only ranges between 10 and 60 miles on a fully charged battery. This range allows for short trips and daily commuting on electric power alone, reducing the reliance on gasoline and lowering overall emissions. However, some premium PHEVs, such as the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and Polestar I PHEV, have long pure electric ranges of up to 83 miles and 77 miles, respectively.

Here is the pure electric range of some of the most popular plug-in hybrids on the U.S. market under ideal driving conditions:

2024 PHEV Model

Hybrid electric range

Mitsubishi Outlander

38 miles

Kia Sorento

32 miles

Hyundai Tucson

33 miles

Toyota Prius Prime

44 miles

Ford Escape

37 miles

Jeep Wrangler

22 miles

Volvo S60

40 miles

Meeting the demand for EV charging station installations

Understanding how PHEVs charge is critical for EV charging station installers to better serve their clients. With skyrocketing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales, there are many opportunities for contractors to install electric car chargers.

GreenLancer specializes in commercial and multifamily EV charging station plan sets, PE stamps, and engineering reviews with speed and precision. Our network includes licensed engineers in all 50 states. Complete the form below to learn more about using the GreenLancer design and engineering platform.


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