November 3, 2023

Electric Vehicle Charging in Washington State


8 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 are an EV owner or looking to become one in the state of Washington, it’s important to understand what owning and charging an electric vehicle will look like, whether in your home or on the go. This article will provide tips and information to help your travel planning efforts and seamless EV ownership in the Evergreen State.

EV Travel Across the Country

Against the backdrop of the national and global EV revolution, an increasing number of vehicle owners are embracing the benefits of converting to a more sustainable and technologically advanced alternative. The shift is not only cost-effective and safer but also environmentally sound.

Even so, in this evolving electric mobility landscape, keeping an electric vehicle charged can be a formidable challenge for EV owners and a distinct departure from the routine familiarity of refilling at a conventional gas station.

In the face of this dilemma experienced by EV owners across most states, a distinct narrative is unfolding in Washington. The state has been at the forefront of championing EV adoption, including an extensive network of charging stations, top-notch infrastructure, and various incentives for EV owners.

If you’ve already joined the energy transition and are driving an EV, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure stress-free travel. If you want to familiarize yourself with charging station locations along your route. The Alternative Fuel Station Locator from the U.S. Department of Energy can provide up-to-date information on the charging stations nearest to you.

Electric Vehicle Charging in Washington State

While every state in the US supports EV ownership in some capacity, Washington has taken center stage in expanding its EV charging infrastructure. From border to border, Washington’s Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) that offer EV charging extend 276 miles along major highways within the state, including Interstate 5, US 2, and I-90, with charging stations every 40 to 60 miles to ensure EV drivers have accessible charging options along their route.

Consider these achievements:

  • The state ranked second among the top 10 US states with the most number of EVs as of September 2023.
  • Washington State boasts 104,050 registered EVs, the fourth highest in the US as of July 2023, and 1,820 charging stations in public locations as of September 2023, offering a total of 3,563 Level 2 and 912 DCFC charging ports.
  • By 2022, 700 public Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations in the state had successfully minimized downtime and maximized convenience, a testament to the state’s focus on promoting fast charging.
  • In September 2023, Washington State approved a $64 million grant program covering 100% of EV chargers’ installation cost. The beneficiaries include public stations, workplaces, multifamily properties, and fleet depots.

Due to the significant number of public Level 2 EV charging stations in the state, which are ideal for overnight charging, EV owners can charge or top up their batteries while taking an extended break or when the vehicle is parked for the night.

A number of charging stations in the state come equipped with multiple charging ports to facilitate the seamless charging of many vehicles simultaneously.

Washington State EV Charging: State and Federal Government Support

Washington received $71 million for EV charging projects as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). With a focus on expanding networks through public-private partnerships, the state actively encouraged collaboration between government agencies, private companies, and utility service providers.

The result is a vast network of charging stations throughout the state in various locations, such as commercial buildings, shopping centers, and public parking lots. Incentives are not limited to public locations and consumption, however, as individual EV owners are also recipients of benefits, helping support the residential adoption of electric vehicles and at-home charging.

With the sales tax exemption on qualifying EV purchases, which translates to thousands of dollars in savings, EV owners may be eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500 as well. These credits can reduce the cost of a new electric vehicle by a wide margin. (Note: The federal tax credit is subject to phase-out once a manufacturer reaches the maximum threshold of EVs sold.)

Meanwhile, annual electric vehicle license fees are significantly lower than fees for conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, and EV owners can unlock added benefits, such as accessing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle.

Tax credits of up to $50,000 for installing and operating EV charging stations in Washington State are also available to support the growth of local businesses.

EV Charging at Home

While EV charging on the go is essential for travel and creating a comprehensive charging infrastructure across the state, a reliable, accessible EV charging station at home is more efficient, convenient, and cost-effective for EV owners living in the state of Washington.

EV charging options are available in three levels of speed and voltage:

  • Level 1 can add 3-5 miles of range added per hour which requires a standard 120 volts and typically does not need any infrastructure or electrical updates. This charger often comes equipped with the electric vehicle and is known as a “trickle charger.” Due to the slow charging of Level 1 chargers, it is typically insufficient for a majority of EV drivers but is a great emergency option as it can be used with a standard outlet.
  • Level 2 can add 12-80 miles of range added per hour using a dedicated 240 volts circuit for a hardwired or commercial-grade outlet. A licensed electrican with EV charger experience should always install these chargers to ensure the installation and any necessary upgrade are safe, made to code, and will prevent electrical fires caused by melting components or improperly wired connections. A Level 2 EV charger can sometimes come with the vehicle or may be purchased separately, and is also known as an “overnight charger.”
  • Level 3 (DCFC) can add 3-20 miles of range added per minute and requires 400-900 volts, however only Level 1 and Level 2 Charging are available for residential EV charger installations due to the high cost and electrical infrastructure needs required for owning and operating a DCFC station. These “fast chargers” must be installed by a licensed electrician and typically require additional permitting.

Charging overnight with Level 2 for daily use is preferred by more than 80% of EV drivers because it charges five times faster than Level 1, can be scheduled to charge when utility rates are at their lowest, and allows you to wake up with a vehicle that is ready to drive. You can also install a Level 2 charger at home, which is often not possible or feasible with expensive DCFC chargers that require a high voltage, generally unavailable in most residential and even many commercial areas as well. Additionally, frequent use of DCFC charging stations has been shown to decrease battery health and diminish driving range over time.

If home charging is an option you are considering, federal and state governments, as well as utilities and auto manufacturers in Washington State, offer incentives for it. Find more information on available incentives through the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.

For example, some local utilities in Washington State provide discounted or time-of-use electricity rates specifically for EV charging. Discounted time-of-use rates mean you can take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours when the demand for energy is low. These times are typically during the evening or overnight, making overnight charging a cost-effective approach to EV ownership.

Adjusting Your EV Travel in Washington State for Climate and Battery Capacity

When traveling via EV, it is crucial that you factor in both climate and battery capacity to ensure an uninterrupted ride. Variables such as temperature, terrain, and driving style can significantly impact your EV’s range and running condition.

In Washington State, where the weather varies greatly from the rainy coast to the snowy mountains, climate conditions can affect your EV’s running condition.

Temperatures can go as low as 0°F, impacting battery capacity, charging performance, and your range, but preheating your vehicle while it is still plugged in can help you conserve battery and maximize your range.

Additionally, parking your EV in a garage or a covered area during extreme weather will also help maintain its efficiency. Refer to your owner’s manual for details on EV care according to the climate in your area.

Lastly, prioritize careful planning to ensure stress-free travels. Map out your routes ahead of time and stay at locations that allow overnight charging. Schedule your breaks at venues where you can charge while dining or visiting the local attractions.

Charging your EV to 100% is not always necessary, especially on short trips, and you can improve charging time and extend battery life for your vehicle by not charging to total capacity.

Optimizing your EV travel by accounting for climate and battery capacity will enhance your vehicle’s performance, ensuring a smooth journey.

#1 Trusted EV Charging Installer in Washington State – Qmerit

Washington offers an array of incentives and advantages to EV owners and even those considering the transition. Its unwavering commitment to a supportive and robust infrastructure has cemented its role as a leader in the EV revolution.

The state has laid out an intricate network of charging stations across its expanse, comprising options for swift charging and the more steadfast Level 2 alternatives. A framework such as this ensures that EV travel is convenient and sustainable without sacrificing performance.

Financial incentives are also available through exemptions from sales tax, federal tax credits, lower annual license fees, and HOV lane access. These efforts support the state’s ambition of shifting toward a sustainable, environmentally conscious, and economically viable mode of transportation.

Utility providers also offer lower tariffs on electricity bills in addition to the convenience of home charging on your schedule and knowing that your vehicle will be fully charged and ready when you need it. Installing a Level 2 charger makes charging at home easy and Qmerit can make it even easier.

Graphic with EV and charging station, sign up for free quote with Qmerit

As the largest network of certified EV charger installers in North America, Qmerit is the most trusted EV charger installation partner recommended by automakers, EV charger manufacturers, utilities, businesses, and homeowners alike.

But don’t just take our word for it. Rated #1 in customer satisfaction, Qmerit’s experienced network of certified electricians has installed more than 450,000 EV charging stations in homes and businesses across the U.S. and Canada!

Give us a call at (888) 272-0090 or complete our online EV assessment to find out why we’re North America’s most trusted EV charger installation service provider today!

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification