EV Charging Vocabulary & Definitions

Vehicle Types & Styles

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

BEVs are a type of electric car that exclusively get their energy from rechargeable battery packs. BEVs do not have an internal combustion engine, a fuel tank, or a fuel cell.

Electric Vehicle (EV)

EV stands for electric vehicles (or electric cars). EVs are equipped with a battery-powered motor instead of a traditional internal combustion engine. Contrary to PHEVs and HEVs, EVs do not have a gasoline tank and output zero tailpipe emissions. They are associated with a lower carbon footprint than traditional vehicle types.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

HEVs use both electric batteries and gasoline. More often than not, the electric motor is here to assist the internal combustion engine, during the acceleration phases, for instance. Note that HEVs cannot be plugged into regular EV charging stations. Batteries replenish themselves via the energy generated by the combustion engine or via regenerative braking.

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)

Internal combustion engines use liquid fuel (gasoline) to create energy to power traditional vehicles. ICE cars are the most common vehicle on the road (although an increase in EV
infrastructure means electric cars are becoming more accessible).

Mild Hybrid or Battery Assisted Hybrid Vehicle (BAHV)

Mild hybrids - like traditional hybrids use a battery to assist with powering a car alongside a traditional combustion engine. The mild hybrid gets energy from the battery and simultanously works with the combustion engine to power the vehicle. It cannot power the vehicle exclusively using the battery, but is connected directly to the transmission and supports acceleration. The battery primarily charges from regenerative breaking. An example of a battery assisted hybrid vehicle would be the Toyota Tundra.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

PHEVs rely on both electric batteries as well as gasoline to power an internal combustion engine (ICE). These vehicles run on electrical power until the battery is depleted and automatically switch to the ICE. Charging hybrids can also be plugged in to charge their engine.

Electricity Terminology

Alternating Current (AC)

This type of charging is useful for charging electric vehicles at different speeds through an alternating current. With an AC charger, the power is converted to DC by the vehicle itself. AC charging is the type of charge you will find in residential homes and is associated with level 1 and level 2 charging.

Direct Current (DC)

DC is the second type of current that can be used to power electric vehicles. DC charging is only found in commercial Level 3 chargers you would find in public. This type of current allows for much faster charging speeds but requires significant infastructure to create.

Kilowatt (kW)

kW is a measurement unit used to determine how much power an electrical appliance
consumes. It's a meaure of instantaneous power in electric vehicles. For example, a battery rated at 100 kW could supply 25 kW of power for 4 hours (25 * 4 = 100). Therefore, keeping everything equal an engine with more kW will have more power that can either be used to move a heavier weight or travel further distance.

Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

kWh defines the amount of energy that is required to power an electrical appliance for one hour. We often use kWh to determine the charging time for an electric vehicle (EV). For example, we know the on-board charger capacity for a vehicle is often the limiting factor for charge speeds. If the on-board charger was rated at 9.6 kWh, and the battery is 110 kW then it would take 11.5 hours to charge from 0-100% ( 110 kW / 9.6 kWh = 11.46).

Amperage (Amps)

A measurement of the charging speed for a charging device. More Amps means more instantaneous energy flowing. Most home chargers range between 16-48 Amps. A 48A charger will charge at twice the speed of a 24A, given the EV has an on-board charger large enough to handle 48A.

Voltage (Volts)

The size of the flow of electricity. Level 2 chargers run on 240V, compared to 120V that Level 1 charging uses.

Load Calculation

A load calculation is the process of adding up all the amperage of fixtures and appliances in your home connected to the electrical panel. It's best not to exceed more than 80% of your home service size, otherwise you risk overloading your panel. Exceeding your homes electrical service size could cause loss of power in appliances during periods of high electrical load.

When an electrician is installing an electric vehicle charger a load calculation must be completed to confirm your panel can safely accomodate the additional electrical charging load. Due to the large amount of electricity required by Level 2 chargers, often energy management systems must be used.

EV Slang Terminology


When an internal combustion engine vehicle is parked in a dedicated public charging location with no intent or capability to charge. This is a common problem in locations with busy parking lots such as grocery stores and malls. Although this slang is primarily directed to gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles, an EV is capable of icing a charger if it uses the spot without needing to charge.

Example, "I couldn't charge my Tesla at work today. Someone driving a Dodge Ram ICE'd the Level 2."

Range Anxiety

The fear of not having enough range for the EV to make it to its destination, potentially leaving its passengers stranded. This is especially pronounced when considering long distance travel, winter travel, and towing.

Any Definitions We Missed?