October 24, 2023

Electric Vehicle Charging in Pennsylvania

9 Min. Read

As electric vehicle (EV) adoption rates continue to rise, EV charging stations are rolling out across the country on a mass scale. However, progress is not uniform, and traveling through various states requires effective planning.

If you’re an EV owner or looking to become one in Pennsylvania, it’s also important to understand what owning and charging an electric vehicle will look like, whether in your home or on the go.

Traveling to Pennsylvania is an opportunity to discover the birthplace of American democracy while enjoying some breathtaking landscapes. Thanks to the many EV charging stations in Pennsylvania, it’s also possible to explore the state without relying on fossil fuels, however, the state’s EV charging network is still developing, and EV owners should carefully plan their visits. The same applies to PA residents considering an EV purchase.

This article will provide tips and information to help your travel planning efforts and seamless EV ownership in the Keystone State.

EV Travel Across the Country

Switching to EVs has several benefits, from saving on fuel to reducing your environmental impact. As the national charging infrastructure grows, there are more opportunities than ever before for interstate travel and road trips.

However, distribution remains unequal for the charging infrastructure. Traveling as an EV owner entails researching your itinerary and destination carefully to assess the availability of charging.

The good news is that an increasing number of accommodations and landmarks offer EV charging across the country and the Inflation Reduction Act and other electrification measures are working to further the expansion of accessible and reliable EV charging infrastructure across the country!

Electric Vehicle Charging in Pennsylvania

The number of EVs registered in Pennsylvania increased from 26,800 in 2021 to over 47,000 in 2022. Even though EV adoption is up, EVs still only represent 0.5% of all vehicles on PA roads.

This percentage will likely keep increasing as the state actively invests in developing its charging infrastructure and auto manufacturers commit to electric vehicle lineups to further support environmental goals across the U.S.

The State of EV Charging in PA

As of 2023, Pennsylvania offers a total of 3,696 charging ports spread across more than 1,400 public EV charging locations. The state accounts for roughly 2.4% of all charging stations nationwide, and with 3.87% of the U.S. population living in Pennsylvania, this percentage aligns with demand at the state level.

You’ll find a higher concentration of charging stations in major urban areas, including 392 stations in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas, 248 charging stations in Pittsburgh, and over 200 charging locations in Allentown. You’ll also find over 80 stations between Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg.

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Pennsylvania also has an impressive rural network for EV charging. The DCNR has been building EV charging stations since 2018 and now offers 41 stations across different state parks and forests. This rural network could double in size over the next few years and provides excellent charging opportunities for wildlife and nature enthusiasts across the state.

Future Projects

Over the next five years, Pennsylvania will receive $171.5 million in funding as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program introduced by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In the first round of funding, the state awarded $34 million in grants. These grants will support 54 projects across 35 counties, but there is an emphasis on turning major highways into Alternative Fuel Corridors.

This initiative will facilitate travel between major urban areas by making EV charging stations available every 50 miles along major highways. The PennDOT is looking into creating over 200 charging stations with this first round of funding.

While there are still federal funds left to award, Pennsylvania is currently the third state that received the most funding behind Texas and New York. This influx of federal funding has the potential to transform the Pennsylvania EV charging infrastructure and turn the state into an electrification leader.

Pennsylvania has adopted additional measures that could drive EV adoption and support the development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure:

  • State agencies must electrify 25% of their fleet vehicles by 2025. This measure could encourage municipal charging projects.
  • Pennsylvania is part of a multi-state task force that is looking at adopting medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles. This task force could transform the logistics industry.
  • The state also updated its code to exempt EV charging station providers from the obligations public utilities have to meet. This measure facilitates billing and means there is no obligation to serve.

How to Find EV Charging Stations in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Department of Energy has a convenient Alternative Fueling Station Location tool. You can use it to explore 1,489 charging locations across the state and locate over 3,600 unique charging ports.

The state’s Travel Information Service also maintains the 511 Pennsylvania Website, a helpful resource for planning a trip to PA with information about accidents, closures, and EV charging. The 511 Pennsylvania map uses filters that allow you to locate EV charging stations quickly, find details about pricing information, and refine your search by connector type, making it easy to plan your route ahead of time.

Lastly, you can check this comprehensive list of state parks and forests that offer EV charging options. Many of these parks also have campgrounds if you’re looking for a nature-centric and affordable getaway, with the added perk of overnight charging.

At-Home EV Charging in Pennsylvania

EV owners have several options for charging their vehicles:

  • Level 1 charging delivers up to 2.4kW via a standard 120V outlet. This method doesn’t require any specific equipment outside of a charging cable, but getting a full charge can take more than 40 hours.
  • Level 2 is the most widespread charging method. Level 2 charging requires a 240V outlet and a specialized charger that delivers up to 19kW and charges a battery in four to ten hours.
  • With Level 3 or DC Fast-Charging, EV owners can charge their batteries in an hour or less. However, this charging method requires commercial equipment and can accelerate battery degradation.

Level 2 at-home charging remains the most convenient option for two main reasons:

  1. Once you upgrade your home with a Level 2 charger, EV charging is easy to access at all times.
  2. Level 2 charging is best for preserving the longevity of your EV battery. However, it’s slower than DC Fast charging, which makes overnight charging the best option.

If you’re considering buying an EV as a Pennsylvania resident or are looking into relocating to the Keystone State, you can benefit from a few different incentives to offset the cost of installing an at-home EV charging station.

For PECO customers, there is a $50 rebate for purchasing a new EV. DLC customers can benefit from a similar $50 rebate.

You can also qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $1,000 for installing a residential EV charging station and obtain another credit of up to $7,500 on the purchase of a qualifying EV model.

Incentives are limited for residential customers, but other programs are indirectly supporting the development of the EV charging network.

For instance, the state is offering grants for commercial projects through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. Landlords and property owners can qualify and use one of these grants to install EV charging stations for multi-unit dwellings.

PECO and DLC offer rebates for commercial customers. PECO offers up to $2,000 for installing a Level 2 charging station, while DLC covers up to 50% of the project. Businesses, employers, non-profits, and municipalities can qualify for these programs.

As more commercial customers take advantage of these incentives, EV charging could become widely available for tenants, employees, and shoppers.

Adjusting Your Travel in Pennsylvania for Climate and Battery Capacity

These important considerations will help you plan your trip to Pennsylvania.

Seasonal Temperatures and EV Charging

As an EV owner, you should know that extreme temperatures can affect range and charging. A heat wave can reduce your battery capacity by as much as 30%. Cold temperatures have a similar effect to a lesser extent.

As a coastal state, Pennsylvania experiences wide temperature fluctuations. It’s not unusual to see averages of 70°F in July and 28°F in January.

Summer temperatures will have a limited effect on charging and range. You can mitigate the impact of hot temperatures by not parking directly in the sun, charging at night, and avoiding driving during the hot afternoon hours.

However, the winter months can make EV charging challenging. Your battery will drain faster in cold temperatures due to the car’s heating system. You’ll have to plan for more frequent charging and should also account for snow potentially limiting your driving range.

The best way to mitigate the effects of cold weather on EV charging is to protect your car from cold temperatures by parking it indoors as much as possible and always having a backup plan for charging.

Planning Your Routes

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the best areas in terms of access to EV charging. You can easily find hotels and parking garages with paid charging.

Thanks to the state’s rural EV charging network, you also have the option of camping at a state park while accessing EV charging.

Traveling between major urban areas can be challenging due to the limited availability of EV charging outside major cities. It’s best to limit yourself to a 100-mile radius around a central location where you can charge.

Attractions and Activities with EV Charging

Planning your trip around landmarks and activities with charging is a smart strategy:

  • If you want to see Philadelphia, you’ll find several parking garages with charging options near the Universal Sphere and the Philadelphia City Hall. Chinatown is another area with a fairly high concentration of EV charging stations.
  • You can explore the area north of Philadelphia by checking this list of Bucks County hotels with EV charging stations.
  • The Strip District in Pittsburgh has several charging options along Smallman and Railroad Street. You can explore this neighborhood and its many eateries and street stands or head to the nearby Pittsburgh Opera and West Penn Park while your EV charges.
  • If you’re interested in history, the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center offers EV charging.
  • You can also charge your EV at the Bald Eagle State Park, Fort Washington State Park, Shawnee State Park, and many other rural locations.

Planning Your EV Travel in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of the top states taking advantage of the federal funding offered under the NEVI program. Now that the first round of funding is complete, projects will soon begin, and we could see an extended EV charging infrastructure that connects major cities through Alternative Fuel Corridors in less than a year.

Meanwhile, EV charging stations remain concentrated in major cities and a few state parks. If you plan on traveling to Pennsylvania, look for accommodations and activities to facilitate EV charging access. As a resident, at-home charging remains your best option.

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Author: Tom Bowen Tom Bowen President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification