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With the advance of electric vehicles in the automotive world, more retail locations, like Walmart and Cracker Barrel, are getting on board to support it by installing charging stations in the parking lots for those shoppers who own an electric vehicle. Trader Joe’s is another popular shopping hotspot that’s getting involved in the electric car charging game. If you charge your vehicle there, how long will it take? 

Let’s look at which types of chargers you’ll find there and how to find out if your local store has an EV charging station for you to use. 

EV charge
EV charging station | Drew Angerer/Getty

The difference between the three electric vehicle chargers

With EVs, you’ll find three main charging stations to juice your car’s battery. Level 1 chargers are the slowest charging units available, and you’ll typically use them at home when you’re charging your vehicle overnight. But it won’t actually charge it up entirely if you only have it plugged in for 8-10 hours.

Charging up your electric car will take approximately 1 kWh of juice at a time, which could take up to a couple of days to fully charge your vehicle. All you need at this level is a 120-volt outlet, which your home usually uses for your electrical needs, like charging your phone or laptop. 

With a Level 2 charger, you’ll need a 240-volt outlet to plug it in, which most homes already have for your dryer or some oven units. You’ll need to have one installed in your garage to charge your electric car, though. These receptacles can charge anywhere between 3 kW and 20 kW, but typically, you’ll find them charging at the average 6-8 kW rate. Charging at this level could be done overnight or within a day. 

Level 3 chargers are the fastest available for electric vehicles. They’re also known as DC fast charging stations. These units can charge 50-350 kW at a time, according to Transportation.gov. That means it should only take 30 minutes or so to charge up to 80 percent of your EV battery instead of a few hours, as the lower levels do.

Charging an electric car at Trader Joe’s

Many retail places, like Trader Joe’s and Costco, have electric charging stations in a designated area of the parking lot. This way, you can charge up your EV while shopping for your groceries inside the store.

At these stations, you’ll typically find Level 2 and Level 3 charging units because you’ll need the faster stations to juice up the battery as much as possible in a shorter amount of time. 

To figure out how long it will take to charge your vehicle at a place like Trader Joe’s, you’ll need to know your EV’s battery capacity. For example, if you own a Kia Niro EV, which has a total of 64.8 kWh, it should take less than an hour to charge it up for a DC fast charger, which will have a larger output in most cases (can charge up to 350 kWh, depending on the charger). With this rate, you’ll gain a driving range of 180-240 miles per charging hour. 

For a Level 2 charger to fully charge the battery, you’re looking at 4-10 hours. That will get you around 10-20 miles per hour of charging. You’ll still get a decent amount in an hour, enough to get you home or to the next stop. 

Does your Trader Joe’s have electric vehicle charging stations?

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As with other retail stores, Trader Joe’s only has certain locations that offer electric car charging. However, some counties, such as Santa Cruz in California, are upping their EV charging station game by enabling more chargers to get installed at various locations. 

The effort by the county is a response to the state’s plans to ban the sale of small gas-powered engines by 2024 and vehicles by 2035, according to Look Out Santa Cruz. That means EVs will eventually be the primary mode of transportation, and there will need to be more chargers to handle them. 

Trader Joe’s is one of the locations in that county that expanded their electric vehicle chargers to meet the demand. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Costa Mesa location installed four new units within the last year. The company will likely implement many more in other store locations in the future. 

To find out if your local Trader Joe’s has EV charging, you can use an app like PlugShare. The application will inform you of where you can go to find the charger you need, how much it will cost, and which charging levels you can expect to find there. 

Stores like Trader Joe’s are doing their part for a greener shopping experience by installing more EV chargers at various locations. Charging speeds will vary by location, but you’re likely to find Level 2 and Level 3 stations at most of them.