In this article, we will talk about the different levels of charging for electric vehicles in general, not specifically F-150 Lightning, different charging options for F-150 Lightning, how long to charge the F-150 Lightning on different charging types, Ford’s Intelligent Backup Power, etc. We’re going to assume that most F-150 Lightning owners are new to electric mobility, so they’re really starting at ground zero with charging. If you’re a sophisticated electric vehicle fan, you might want to jump to the next segment of this article. Down in the Table of Contents of this article, we have links to allow people to jump around and go to what section of this article they want.
First, let’s talk about general EV charging and three different types (Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 charging).
EV Charging Types
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 charging is regular household 120-volt AC charging. You can charge any electric vehicle from a simple household outlet. The problem is it takes a long time. Most electric vehicles will get between 2-5 miles of range per hour when they’re charging on Level 1, which depends on how efficient the vehicle is.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is a big heavy truck, so it’s not going to be as efficient as a tiny little electric vehicle like a BMW i3. The F-150 Lightning is on the lower end of how fast it will charge on Level 1, and you’re only going to get about 2-3 miles of range per hour.
The Extended Range battery pack has a 300-mile range which is Ford’s estimate. If you only get 2-3 miles of range replenishment per hour, it’ll take more than 100 hours to recharge a dead battery fully. Of course, most people will never plug in at a dead battery, not often at least.
You charge fully overnight and leave in the morning. If you drive 40 or 50 miles during the day, you only need to replenish those 40 or 50 miles. Some people don’t actually even recharge every day. They drive the vehicle a few days, then plug it in and recharge. However, if you were stuck charging on Level 1, you’d want to plug it in every day or every opportunity you could because it charges so slowly.
For that reason, most F-150 Lightning owners are not going to charge on Level 1, but you can in a pinch if you need to add some miles.
Level 2 Charging
Most people will elect Level 2 charging for daily charging, which is AC charging at home or on the road on a 208-240-volt source. It dramatically increases the speed at which the vehicle charges on a Level 2 charging source.
You can charge anywhere from 16 amps up to 80 amps, so there’s no real standard on Level 2 charging replenishing x amount of miles per hour because it depends on what equipment you’re using. Ford has a variety of Level 2 charging options for F-150 Lightning owners, which we’re going to get into later. There are also many excellent third-party Level 2 home EV chargers on the market.
DC Fast Charging (Level 3 Charging)
The third type of charging is DC fast charging (400-900 volts DC electric). Charging on Level 1 and Level 2 is Alternating Current (AC). That’s the type of electricity that you have in your household.
Direct Current is what you would get on high-speed DC fast chargers installed in public. You wouldn’t have a DC fast charger at your house. These are like the charging stations you see from Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVgo. Tesla has their own branded network of DC fast chargers, Superchargers which charge electric vehicles really fast.
Ford Charging Equipment
Dual-Voltage Ford Mobile Charger
The Mobile Connector has the J1772 connector which is the connector that all electric vehicles in North America use except for Tesla vehicles, but Tesla provides their customers with an adapter that fits on top of the J1772, so their cars can charge on a J1772 charging station.
When you’re using the 120-volt adapter, it takes a long time, and you’ll get about 1 kW while charging. The Standard Range battery pack is 98 kWh, and the Extended Range battery pack is 131 kWh. Depending on your state of charge, it’s going to take you quite some time to charge it, but you can use it in a pinch.
It takes 14 hours to charge the Standard Range battery pack and 19 hours to charge the Extended Range battery pack from 15% to 100% using the 240-volt adapter.
If you use the vehicle heavily and drive hundreds of miles a day, you probably need a little faster charging. The Ford Mobile Charger will work for some Lightning owners, particularly those with the Standard Range battery pack. However, it’s not going to work for all Lightning owners, so every Extended Range battery pack Lightning comes standard with a Ford Charge Station Pro, an 80-amp charging station, in addition to a Ford’s Mobile Charger. The 80-amp charger is going to charge a car significantly faster.
80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro
The 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro comes standard with the Extended Range battery pack Lightning. It can deliver up to 80 amps to the vehicle, and you need to install this charging station on a dedicated 100-amp circuit. However, many homes have a 100-amp service for the entire house, so check it with your electrician.
Many people who want to install the 80-amp Ford home Pro charging station will have to have a service upgrade at their house, which may cost $3,000 to $6,000 and higher.
All the Lightning vehicles with the Extended Range battery pack have dual on-board chargers, that is, two 40-amp chargers to equal 80 amps. The dual on-board chargers allow the vehicle to charge at up to 19.2 kW.
The on-board chargers can accept the 19.2 kW, while the output is down to 17.6 kW. That’s because there are always charging losses during the charging process.
The on-board charger inside the electric vehicle converts the electricity from AC that the charger receives from your house to DC, which is how electricity is stored in the battery pack. There are always charging losses when you do this conversion, so you don’t get the 19.2 kW into your battery that the charging station is delivering to the vehicle.
With the Ford Lightning, you might go from accepting 17.6 kW all the way down to like 7 or 8 kW for the last hour of charging. That’s why you can’t really just do the math and say it takes in this amount of kilowatts, and over this amount of hours, it should deliver that much to the vehicle. Charging isn’t linear, and there are charging losses.
The connector of the Ford Charge Station Pro is different from the connector on Ford Mobile Charger. That’s because the Ford Charge Station Pro utilizes the CCS connector, not the J1772.
You don’t need that to charge the Lightning because you’re only using the pins in the J1772, which is on the top of the CCS connector to charge the vehicle, but the reason why it has a CCS connector is for Ford’s intelligent backup power.
48-amp Ford Connected Charging Station
The last option that Ford offers for home charging equipment is the Ford Connected Charging Station which is sold for $799.
If you get the Lightning with the Standard Range battery pack, and you decide to keep the Mobile Charger in the truck in the case of emergency, not for daily charging, or you just want to charge a little bit faster, Ford’s 48-amp Connected Charge Station might be an option.
It needs to be hardwired on a 60-amp dedicated circuit, and it’ll charge the vehicle a little bit faster than what the Mobile Charger will.
If you had an Extended Range battery pack Lightning with the Ford Charge Station Pro, do you still want to get a 48-amp charging station? The answer is you may want. What if you can’t install the 80-amp charger in your house because you have 60 amps available in your service panel, but you don’t have a 100-amp circuit available, and you don’t want to do a full-service upgrade either.
You would prefer to charge at the 19.2 kW that the Ford Charge Station Pro can deliver, but you are not going to spend another $5,000 to upgrade your whole house, so you’ll just get the Ford Connected Charging Station and charge at 48 amps, which is a decent option for many people.
The on-board charger always has charging losses, and the on-board charger for the Standard Range battery pack on the Lightning can accept 11.3 kW, but its output power is 10.5 kW, so you’re only going to get 10.5 kW into the pack every hour of charging. That’s still much better than Ford’s Mobile Charger which is only going to give you somewhere around 7 kW every hour. So you have a good increase in power, and it’s definitely worth it if you can’t install Ford’s Charge Station Pro and you want to charge faster than Ford’s Mobile Charger.
Third-Party Home Chargers for the F-150 Lightning
You can use the charging equipment that Ford makes, but we want to make it clear that you don’t have to. Any Level 2 chargers sold on the market can charge the Lightning fine because they use the industry standard J1772 connector. They just come in different sizes, different shapes, different cost points, different power levels, etc., so it might behoove you to take a look at these home EV chargers and pick the best one for your needs if you’re going to buy a charging station for the F-150 Lightning.
DC Fast Charging the Ford F-150 Lightning
For DC fast charging, Lightning can accept up to 150 kW. If you’re traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles, you really don’t want to use Level 2 charging and don’t want to be stuck for hours waiting. That’s when you find DC fast chargers. The problem is there is a limited number of them at different rates (50 kW, 150 kW, and 350 kW) out there. You really want to try to find the ones that are 150 kW or more so that the vehicle can accept its maximum charging power.
How do you find them? Ford’s navigation system will route you to DC fast charging stations. In addition, some third-party apps, such as Plugshare and Chargeway, can also help you find public charging. These apps have all kinds of tips on whether the charging station is broken, how much the charging station costs, and if you can use that charging station because there are other charging standards. The CCS combined charging system that Lightning uses isn’t the only charging standard for DC fast charging. There’s a CHAdeMO which is a plug that some of the Asian manufacturers use. There are also Tesla Superchargers.
How Long Does It Take to Charge the F-150 Lightning?
How Long Does It Take to Charge the F-150 Lightning with the Ford Mobile Charger?
When using the 120-volt adapter of the Ford Mobile Charger, it takes a long time, and you’ll get about 1 kW while charging. The Standard Range battery pack is 98 kWh, and the Extended Range battery pack is 131 kWh. Depending on your state of charge, it’s going to take you quite some time to charge it, but you can use it in a pinch.
When using the Ford Mobile Charger at 240 volts, it takes 14 hours to charge the Standard Range battery pack and 19 hours to charge the Extended Range battery pack from 15% to 100%.
The Standard Range battery pack has a driving range of 230 miles, so if you take 85% of that, that’s 195 miles. It takes 14 hours to charge 195 miles of range, adding about 14 miles of range per hour of charging. For the Extended Range battery pack, it’s about the same, maybe a little bit slower, but right around 14 miles of range per hour.
Hence, If you’re using the Ford Mobile Charger and you’re plugging into the NEMA 14-50 outlet, you’re going to get somewhere around 14 miles of range for every hour you’re charging.
Most people come home at 5 or 6 p.m. They don’t leave for work the next morning until 6 or 7 a.m., so your vehicle could be charging anywhere from 10-12 hours a day. It’s going to be good enough to add back 140-200 miles of range every day.
How Long Does It Take to Charge the F-150 Lightning with the Ford Charge Station Pro?
On the Ford Charge Station Pro charging station, it can take about 10 hours to charge the Standard Range battery from 15% to 100%, which is faster than the Ford Mobile Charger but not that much faster. That’s because the Standard Range battery pack doesn’t come with dual on-board chargers, but a single 48-amp on-board charger, so it really can’t take advantage of the full power Ford Charge Station Pro can deliver.
Still, 10 hours is pretty fast. It adds up to about 20 miles of range added per hour, a pretty significant jump from the Ford Mobile Charger that was about 14 miles of range per hour.
The Extended Range battery pack F-150 has dual on-board chargers which accept the full 80 amps the Charge Station Pro can deliver. It charges the Extended Range battery pack Ford F-150 Lightning in only 8 hours from 15% to 100%, adding up to about 32 miles of range per hour. The Extended Range battery pack is 33 kW larger than the Standard Range battery pack, so you get 33% more energy, and it shaves two whole hours off the charging.
How Long Does It Take to Charge the F-150 Lightning with the Ford Connected Charge Station?
If you use Ford’s Connected Charge Station, it will take about 10 hours to charge a Standard Range battery pack from 15% to 100%. That’s a charge rate of about 20 miles of range per hour.
It takes 3 hours longer to charge the Extended Range battery pack, and that’s the same 20 miles of range per hour. That’s because when charging on the Ford Connected Charge Station, the Extended Range battery pack with its dual on-board chargers doesn’t have an advantage over the Standard Range battery pack because the Standard Range battery pack can already accept the full amount of power that the Ford Connected Charge Station can deliver, so there’s no advantage for the Extended Range battery pack. The battery packs about 33 kW bigger, and it takes about 33% longer to charge 10 hours to 13 hours.
How Long Does It Take to Charge the F-150 Lightning on a 150-kW / 50-kW DC Fast Charging Station?
It takes around 44 minutes to go from 15% to 80% to charge the Standard Range battery pack Lightning with a 230-mile estimated range on a 150-kW DC fast charging station.
For the Extended Range battery pack lightning with a 300-mile range, it takes around 41 minutes from 15% to 80% on a 150-kW DC fast charge station.
A lot of DC fast chargers in public today are limited to 50 kW. On Ford’s technical specification sheet, they did give us a line to show us how long it would take. It will take 91 minutes to charge the Standard Range battery pack F-150 Lightning from 15% to 80%. If you have the Extended Range battery pack, it takes 122 minutes to charge from 15% to 80%. If you take a road trip, it really takes time to charge your Lightning on the 50-kW charger, so it demonstrates how important it is to find a 150-kilowatt DC fast charge station.
FordPass Charging Network
There are a lot of different networks out there, Electrify America, EVgo, Greenlots, ChargePoint, Blink, etc. When using public charging networks either to DC fast charge or Level 2 charge, you need to join the network. Fortunately, Ford has made it easier for their customers, and they created what they call the Ford charging network.
What they did was they went out and made deals with all these different charging networks, so that way you don’t have to join all those networks. You just use your FordPass app, and you can authenticate a charging session on any of the networks that they made deals with.
It’s very convenient, and it really eliminates the need to go out and create some type of relationship with ten different charging networks. All you need to do is use the FordPass app, and you can charge on the vast majority of public charging networks available today.
How to Charge the Ford F-150 Lightning on Tesla Charging Stations
Tesla is the only manufacturer that doesn’t use a J1772 connector but a proprietary connector in the US. However, you can use some Tesla charging stations, such as Tesla Wall Connector, to charge the F-150 Lightning with a suitable Tesla to J1772 adapter.
It’s important that you pair the power that the adapter can deliver to the power that your electric vehicle can accept because these come in all different power levels. You don’t want to buy one that can’t accept the amount of power that the F-150 Lightning will accept.
Tesla also has a network of destination chargers around the country which are Level 2 charging stations available to the public. They’re at hotels, restaurants, public parking lots, etc. You can go to Tesla’s website, search their charging map, and you’ll see where they are. Tesla has done a fantastic job of putting these all over the country. You can use those charging stations to charge the F-150 Lightning if you have one of the suitable adapters.
Most of these destination chargers are free. They’re usually on private property, so you do want to get permission from whoever manages the charging system. They own and manage the stations, and Tesla just installs them and gives them to the property owner.
Unfortunately, you can’t use one of the Tesla Superchargers. That’s Tesla’s network of DC fast chargers. However, the good news is that Musk has announced on Twitter that he will open up the Supercharger network sometime soon for other electric vehicles to use.
When they do that, you will be able to charge the F-150 Lightning on Tesla Superchargers, which will probably double the amount of DC fast chargers available to F-150 Lightning drivers.
However, Tesla really hasn’t announced all the details for that. We believe that they will sell an adapter that will allow you to plug in. For now, the adapters sold on the market are only good for 240-volt Level 2 charging, but none of these are rated to be able to handle DC fast charging. Therefore, Tesla’s probably going to be making an adapter to allow F-150 Lightning and any other electric vehicle owner to use the Supercharger network.
The F-150 Lightning also comes with new technology for electric vehicles, called plug&charge. What plug&charge does is the vehicle communicates with the charging station when you plug the vehicle in. Basically, all you have to do is plug it in, then it authenticates and starts charging. You don’t even have to pull out your FordPass app and turn on the charging station, which you’d have to do without plug&charge. With plug&charge, that all happens automatically.
Currently, only the Electrify America network has plug&charge enabled across its entire network, but soon it’s going to be available on other networks. It’s going to make public charging a lot easier. You’ll just pull up to the charging station, plug in, and walk away. You don’t have to worry about authenticating it, turning on the charging station, fumbling with a credit card. The vehicle will communicate with the charging station and automatically start charging.
Ford Intelligent Backup Power Feature
The Ford’s Intelligent Backup Power Feature allows the F-150 Lightning to power your home in the case of a power outage or some natural disaster. It’s one of the first electric vehicles that have this Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) where you can actually draw energy from your battery pack to power your house.
The F-150 Lightning can deliver up to 9.6 kW to the house, which should be enough to power most homes completely. Although during a power outage, you probably want to conserve your energy and not waste energy because you don’t know how long the power will be out, and you want it to last a long time.
Ford estimates that the F-150 Lightning with the Extended Range battery pack can power home for about three days, but they also note that it could be up to 10 days if you use your power wisely and don’t waste energy. Of course, it will depend on how big your house is, do you have electricity as your heat, do you have electric cooking appliances. Things that use a lot more energy might limit the amount of time that the vehicle can actually sustain the house. Hopefully, you don’t have a power outage for more than a few days, but if you’re wise and don’t waste your energy, you can actually drag it out for many days.
The Intelligent Backup Power system requires Lightning owners to have an 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and a transfer switch installed at their house. Ford’s partnered with Sunrun to provide the installation of the transfer switch.
A transfer switch is required for safety reasons, so you don’t back feed the grid, which would pose a danger to the line workers working to restore the power. It’s basically called islanding, where the transfer switch cuts power from your house to the grid. You’re operating as an island at that point, and you’re not connected to the grid anymore. The transfer switch physically disconnects your house from the grid.
In addition, you have to understand that these transfer switches aren’t inexpensive. They cost anywhere between $1500-$2500. Then you have to pay to have them installed.
1. Does the Ford Charge Station Pro require a 100-amp dedicated circuit?
No, it doesn’t. It does if you want to supply the full 80 amps to your Lightning which is 19.2 kW delivered to the truck. It’s the fastest way to charge it at home on AC power.
The Extended Range F-150 Lightning has a 131-kWh battery pack; the Standard Range F-150 Lightning has a 98-kWh battery pack. Those are usable capacities that are how much energy you can pump into the battery. They’re big batteries, even the Standard Range Lightning has a big battery, so you really want to charge it quickly at home. That’s why Ford is providing this 80-amp charging station.
However, when you’re setting it up, you can reduce the power to match what you have available from your service panel. According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), a charging station can only deliver 80% of the circuit current. Therefore, if you only have a 20-amp circuit, you can de-rate the Ford Charge Station Pro all the way down to 16 amps.
2. If I de-rate the Ford Charge Station Pro down under 100 amps, can I still use the Intelligent Backup Power?
Absolutely yes, you can. It does not matter what circuit you have the Ford Charge Station Pro on to charge the car because the charging side and the Intelligent Backup Power side of the Charge Station Pro are entirely separate. It does not matter how much power you have charging the Lightning; you can still use the Intelligent Backup Power at its full rate, the 9.6 kW, to power your home.
3. How long is the cable on the Ford Charge Station Pro?
It’s 25 feet long, which is the longest any cable on a charging station is allowed by the NEC. If you park your truck in the driveway, it will reach the charging station.
4. Is Ford Charge Station Pro a DC fast charger?
The Ford Charge Station Pro is a Level 2 charger which is one of the highest-powered Level 2 chargers you could find, not a DC fast charger.
The Ford Charge Station Pro uses the CCS connector, not the J1772 connector that you’ll see on pretty much every other charging station that you can buy. Ford Connected Charge Station and Ford Mobile Charger that comes with the Lightning both use the J1772 connector.
The Ford Charge Station Pro needs the CCS connector for Intelligent Backup Power, not for charging. When you’re charging your F-150 Lightning, the J1772 pins will be used, and the Alternating Current (AC) will be delivered to the truck. When the F-150 Lightning is back feeding the house, the CCS connector will be used, and the power’s coming out of the battery in Direct Current (DC).
5. Can I charge a Tesla vehicle with the Ford Charge Station Pro?
Even though the CCS connector has a J1772 on top, the Charge Station Pro with a J1772 to Tesla adapter can’t connect to the Tesla.
The CCS connectors are all slightly different from different manufacturers, but all the ones always have a little plastic that would prevent the Tesla adapter from snapping in.
6. Can my solar array power my house during a power outage with the Intelligent Backup Power System?
Maybe. Ford said if you have a Sunrun system that integrates into the Intelligent Backup System very well, the Sunrun system will allow you to do that, but if you have a solar array that was installed by a different company, Ford can’t guarantee if it’ll work.
7. Can my solar array recharge the F-150 Lightning during a power outage?
No, it currently can’t. Ford said they’re going to make some hardware integrated into the system to allow you to do that.
8. What equipment is necessary for Intelligent Backup Power?
It’s not like you just get your truck, drive it home, and plug it into your house. There’s equipment that needs to be installed
– Ford F-150 Lightning
– Ford Charge Station Pro
– Your dealer must activate Intelligent Backup Power for it to work.
– You need to order from Sunrun what they call the home integration system. It’s basically a kit that includes a transfer switch, an inverter, and a small battery.
9. Can I use another electrician to install the equipment, or are you forced to use Sunrun?
Yes, you can. You do not have to have Sunrun do the installation if you prefer to use your own company or if you yourself are a licensed electrical contractor; you can install it on your own. You are required to buy the equipment from Sunrun, but you are not required to have them install it.
10. Is there any version of the F-150 Lightning that does not qualify for Intelligent Backup Power?
No, no version can’t get it, so you can get Intelligent Backup Power on any Lightning, even the least expensive Pro model with the Standard Range battery pack, but you have to purchase an 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro.
11. Will the Intelligent Backup Power affect my battery warranty?
What if I use it all the time? What if I live in a really remote area and there are constant power outages, so I’m using Intelligent Backup System every week, sometimes for days? Is that going to affect my warranty?
No, it won’t. You can use Intelligent Backup System as much as you want. It’ll have no impact on your battery warranty, at least for now. Ford is going to monitor this and see how this works out.
12. Will the Intelligent Backup System turn on automatically?
No, it won’t. Ford will allow you to choose whether it will have manual activation or automatic activation. If you have it on automatic, the Lightning will automatically start to power your house when there’s a power outage.
If you have it on the manual, what will happen is you get a power outage, and your app will get a notification about the power being out. It’s going to ask you, do you want to turn on the system, and then at that point, you can turn it on, or you can elect not to. It depends.
13. Can I set a limit so the Intelligent Backup System doesn't completely drain my battery?
Yes, you can set a low limit, and the Intelligent Backup Power won’t exceed that. It’ll shut off. You can set it in miles of range.
If you don’t set a limit, you will drain the battery to “zero”. Actually, all batteries have buffers, low-end buffers, and high-end buffers, so when it runs down to “zero” of the state of charge and an Intelligent Backup Power shuts off, the battery’s not completely drained. At that point, you want to plug it in as soon as possible because you can damage your battery if you let it drain down to the real zero or a very low state of charge, and then you let it sit for a while, that’s really bad for all electric vehicle batteries.