Everything You Wanted To Know About EV Charging Stations in Chicago, IL

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The Windy City is revving up for an electric future! Chicago is experiencing a surge in electric vehicles. The city businesses and government are trying their best to lead this clean transport revolution.

Many factors contribute to the popularity of EV charging stations in Chicago. These include but not limited to growing consumer interest, government incentives, and rising eco-awareness.

This article will explore how this industry will change in the next few years and which EV charging stations to get in Chicago.

The Growth of Electric Vehicles in Chicago

The rate of EV registrations in Chicago
Electric vehicle (EV) sales are growing in Chicago. That explains a significant jump in EV registrations over the last 4 years. Illinois residents are preparing in advance for a future gas car ban. They understand that owning an electric car will be more beneficial in the long run than using a traditional vehicle.

In January 2022, EVs accounted for less than 4.7% of new car registrations in Chicago. By January 2023, the number had changed to 7.6%, indicating a growing interest in electric cars.

Meanwhile, the state of Illinois has ambitious goals for EV charger adoption. They aim to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. This initiative is backed by financial incentives for EV buyers through programs like the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) Recurrent.

The Chicago government realizes the need to install the infrastructure for electrification able to power a desirable number of electric cars. Today, the local government is working on a framework plan to expand residential EV charging infrastructure and ensure equitable access across the Windy City.

It’s no secret that the framework plan and its adoption will take some time, so the focus is currently on providing fair access to chargers to the grid and solar charging stations for those who live in apartment buildings.

Importance Of EV Charging Stations in Chicago

Rising popularity of EVs in the world


More and more people are switching to electric cars. But here’s the thing: EVs have a shorter driving range than gas-powered vehicles, usually up to 300 miles from a single charge. That’s why electric vehicles are so dependent on commercial electric charging stations.

Chicagoans who live in the suburbs can charge their vehicles in their garage. Meanwhile, those living in apartment buildings must use EV commercial charging stations. That’s why many new apartment complexes offer EV-charging parking spots for their residents.

At the same time, local authorities should consider grid and solar-powered EV charging stations in public spaces. It will make owning an electric car more convenient and practical for daily commuting and longer trips.

People are more likely to switch to EVs if they can easily recharge whenever needed. That’s only one of the reasons why Chicago will see more EV commercial charging stations. By making electric cars a more attractive option, we, as a society, pave the way for a more sustainable transportation system in Chicago.

Types of EV Chargers in Chicago H2

Types of EV Chargers
All EV chargers can be split into slow, standard, and fast outlets. Let’s take a closer look at these commercial and residential EV charging stations below.

Pro tip: Beware that some stations are part of networks that may require a membership or app for activation. So, when you are searching “EV chargers near me,” ensure your car is compatible with the network. Some commercial car charging stations might be located in convenient spots with amenities like shops or restaurants, allowing you to make the most of your charging time.

Level 1 Charging (Slow)

Those chargers are the most affordable option on the market. Such EV charging stations in Chicago are typically considered for private use. A level 1 charger uses a traditional 120-volt household outlet and charges 3-7 miles per hour.

Leaving an electric vehicle to charge overnight provides 50-80 miles, enough for general commuting but won’t suit long-distance travelers. A Level 1 system may take a few days to charge a flat car’s battery fully. That’s why you may see them in people’s homes but not in public spaces.

Level 2 Charging (Standard)

These are the most common EV commercial charging stations. You can find them in parking garages, shopping centers, and office buildings. They use a 240-volt outlet, so that they can charge at a rate of 10-25 miles per hour. You need a whole day of using those commercial charging stations to charge a flat battery to 100%.

They are significantly faster than Level 1 options. However, installing and maintaining this system will cost more. That’s why it’s rare to see level 2 commercial electric car charging stations in private households. However, they can be the primary option in apartment buildings.

The usage cost depends on the provider. Some can set it for free, others promote a per-kilowatt-hour rate, and the third group offers you a subscription-based usage.

Level 3 Charging DC (Fast)

They are Chicago’s fastest yet most expensive commercial electric vehicle charging stations. They use direct current (DC) electricity to provide up to 80% charge in 20-30 minutes. It makes those Chicago EV charging stations perfect for long-distance travel.

You can usually find them along highways or big shopping malls. Installing and maintaining Level 3 chargers is expensive, so most DC commercial charging stations for electric cars have a per-kilowatt-hour fee.

EV Charging Station Locations Across Chicago

The list of available grid and solar-powered charging stations is constantly changing. Thus, we recommend you use multiple common platforms where real people mark the current availability of public systems. Check out the list of services where you can find paid and free EV charging stations in Chicago:

  • PlugShare: Here, you can filter the needed kilowatt range, available amenities, parking type, and available networks. Once you click on a desirable commercial or residential charging station, you will see details about pricing, parking space, and available plugs.
  • ChargeHub: Another helpful service is where you can sort available chargers by level, minimum power output, charger type, and networks. Additional filters allow you to list the 24/7 charging station at your current location, free stations, and ports located by the hotels.
  • ChargePoint, EVgo, and Tesla mobile apps: They are official services from popular charging networks.

But bear in mind that the availability of a residential car charging station can change within minutes. To increase your chances, we recommend you pick locations with multiple charges.

Thinking about installing solar charging stations for your business or Chicago home? Fill out this form to get a solar quote and learn how solar energy can benefit your commercial and residential EV charging. 

EV Charging Station Chicago: Installation Process

The typical installation process of commercial and residential electric car charging stations consists of 4 major steps. Let’s explore them in more detail:

Step 1. Preparation While planning, pick a convenient spot with easy access and proximity to the electrical panel to minimize wiring costs. Provide a professional assessment of your electrical panel. They can help you pick the best commercial EV charging stations if you want to install them on your property in a public space.

If you choose a residential EV charger, we recommend the Level 2 option. Considering the ever-growing power needs, they will provide fast and affordable energy for decades. If you choose grid or solar EV charging stations for relatively large commercial buildings with a few charging spots, we recommend mixing Level 2 and Level 3 options.

Step 2. Permits The next step is to gather all needed authorizations. Contact your local authorities to determine the list of permits needed for EV charger installation.
Step 3. Installation Once you’ve gathered all permissions, install the charger. Use only certified experts to do this.
Step 4. Maintenance The last step is to activate the charger and keep it working with proper maintenance.

The public charging stations cost can vary depending on charger type, work required, and permit fees. Check with your local municipality or utility companies for rebates or tax credits to lower installation costs.

EV Charging Station Cost and Possible Financing Options

The Windy City EV forums are filled with questions like “How much do charging stations cost at Oak Park?”, “How much do electric car charging stations cost at Lincolnwood?” and “Do car charging stations cost money to install?” Naturally, in most threads, you’ll find the answers that start with: “It depends on…”. We want to clarify this aspect for you. That’s why we provide an approximate cost of installing EV charging stations so you can determine which option suits you better.

First of all, the final cost does depend on several factors. The top three contributors are:

  • Charger level
  • Electrical work
  • Permit fees

The Level 1 charger can use a standard outlet, so it is the most affordable option at $150-300 for an EV charger. The Level 2 electric car charging stations cost approximately $500 up to $3,000. The price depends on the manufacturer and additional parameters like weather resistance.

The price for a Level 3 DC Fast Charger isn’t something an individual would typically purchase. Estimates range from $30,000 to $150,000 per unit for these high-powered chargers.

Another factor in the commercial EV charging stations cost is the installer pricing. With Level 1 panels, it rarely exceeds $500-700. Level 2 panels may cost you $1,000-5,000 to install. The installation price for each Level 3 depends on the project’s complexity.

Luckily for you, banks and the government understand that electric vehicle charging stations’ cost may be pretty high for many people who are interested in eco-friendly driving. That’s why you have multiple financing options that can ease this journey.

The first one is the traditional loan from a bank or credit union. It will raise the electric vehicle charging stations’ cost in the long run, but that way, you can install them now and pay for them later. If you want to install a residential station for your use, look for home improvement loans. They usually have more beneficial conditions and lower fees, which can help you save money.

The third financing option for grid and solar-powered car charging stations is the Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS). This subscription-based model eliminates upfront costs. A service provider installs, maintains, and owns the charger, and you pay a monthly fee for electricity usage.

Future Outlook for EV Charging Infrastructure in Chicago

The future of infrastructure and EV charging stations in Chicago appears bright. At the state level, the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act aims to have one million EVs on the road by 2030, providing a push for charging infrastructure development. At the city level, we see the City of Chicago Framework Plan to expand charging infrastructure.

Customers react to this news and the gradual cheapening of electric cars by increasing EV sales. It creates a growing demand for convenient charging options. That’s why businesses start to develop public-private partnerships while collaborating with the government. Such an approach will accelerate infrastructure development, especially in underserved areas. And eventually, EV charging stations cost to install will become affordable to general users.

By addressing equity concerns, providing a residential EV charging incentive program, and securing funding, Chicago can create a well-developed charging network that supports a sustainable transportation future.

Thinking about going solar in Chicago? Fill out this form to get a solar quote and learn how solar energy can benefit your commercial or residential EV charging. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to charge an EV at a charging station in Chicago?

It depends on the chosen type. If you use the Level 3 system, it will take 90-120 minutes. With Level 2 chargers, you may wait for 20-30 hours for a full charge. Level 1 is the slowest option, as it may take 2-3 days to power a car.

Are there any incentives available for installing EV chargers in Chicago?

Yes, you can apply for a federal tax credit to purchase and install a qualified EV charge. If you install Level 2 and DC chargers, you can request an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) grant. The City of Chicago currently doesn’t offer incentives for individual installations.

Can electric vehicles use any type of charging station in Chicago?

Yes,  just be aware that low-level chargers will power your car times longer than modern versions.