How to Install an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Home
With soaring gas prices and calls for greener energy sources, more and more car owners have been turning to electric vehicles. As manufacturers come up with EVs more powerful than the next, the big switch from gas-powered cars to electric cars is becoming more attractive. Especially when some states like California are pushing to phase out traditional vehicles by 2030.
If you haven’t already, you probably know someone who’s plunged into the EV world. He might’ve given you a sales pitch about how convenient and good of a deal the Tesla model he owns is. Smooth and quiet driving experience, lower cost of maintenance, the luxury of home charging and not having to drive to a conventional gas station – what’s not to like?
While you can say goodbye to petrol pumps, charging stations are essentially the same in theory, only, they supply electricity to your car. But unlike your regular gas station runs, charging your EV can take hours. For most EV owners, home charging will be the top choice. As convenient as having a home EV charging station seems, it’s more complex than you think.
Read on to know more about installing electric vehicle charging stations at home.
What to know about installing an EV charger at home
Congress just passed climate legislation that will give tax credits for electric vehicles. This will make EVs more affordable and could be a turning point for the industry. So, if you’re thinking of buying a Tesla, a Chevy Bolt, a Nissan Leaf, or any of the many electric cars on the market, this bill will greatly benefit drivers like you.
However, moving from a combustion engine car to an electric car is a long-term commitment, and this includes setting up your house to be EV-friendly.
Do I need to buy a charger before I get an electric vehicle?
Most electric vehicles already ship with a Level 1 electric car charger included, except for Tesla, which stopped including one starting April this year. These chargers can be plugged into your standard home outlet. Though convenient, they offer very slow charging. An overnight charge may give you enough juice for a short commute, but a full charge will take more than a day. You also need to check if your home’s electrical system can handle an EV charging station aside from powering up other devices.
You may want to install a Level 2 charger at home to fully optimize your car’s power. You may purchase one from your car dealer or check out EV charger manufacturers like Lectron for more options. Such chargers are significantly more powerful than Level 1 chargers and can fill up your car’s battery overnight. Level 2 chargers are plugged into the same outlet you use for your bigger appliances (think air conditioning units, washers, and dryers), so you’ll need to call a licensed electrician to install one.
For example, the Lectron V-BOX is a Level 2 charging station that provides up to 240V and 48A of power. It charges at 11.52 kWh and can fully charge an EV at home in less than six hours.
DC fast chargers use DC power instead of AC power. Because they require so much power, you rarely see one in residential areas. These are mostly found in charging stations and home installation is unlikely.
What types of electric vehicle charging stations are there?
There are three types of electric vehicle charging stations ranging from the basic to the more complex, depending on the amount of power it can give.
What is a Level 1 charging station?
A Level 1 charging station is the simplest and has the slowest charging speed of the three. Most EVs come with a Level 1 electric car charger, which you can simply plug into your standard outlet. Despite its convenience and affordability, the downside of using this charging cable is that it operates on 110-120-volt AC power, which may result in slow charging speeds.
It’s limited to just 4 to 6 miles of range per hour, which could be enough for your daily commutes. If you have an EV with 200 miles of range, it will take around 35 to 50 hours to fully charge.
What is a Level 2 charging station?
Level 2 charging uses connectors that are plugged into 240-volt outlets that are typically used for washers and dryers. Tesla wall connectors are an example of Level 2 chargers. There are portable ones that you can just plug directly into a three-pronged outlet. You probably have the outlet and circuit in your laundry room, but unplugging your washing machine every time your car’s battery needs a recharge could be inconvenient.
Because of this, many EV owners opt to install a Level 2 electric car charging station in their garages. This could greatly benefit those with two electric cars or more. You’ll need to call an electrician to install a 240-volt circuit to supply electrical current in your garage. Such a circuit will let you hardwire your own electric vehicle charger at home, but the 240-volt socket will also let you plug in a portable one. And since Level 2 chargers like the Lectron V-BOX are made of weatherproof materials, outdoor installation is perfectly fine.
Though upgrading your home’s electrical system could be costly, Level 2 chargers are significantly faster than Level 1 chargers. It can give your EV up to 200 miles of driving range in under 10 hours, so you’re likely to save money in the long run.
What is a DC fast charging station?
DC fast chargers use direct current, so you can fully charge your EV battery in an hour or even less. Some EV models are capable of higher voltage charging (400v and 800v), which can take your battery from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes.
Because of the high power it requires, it’s rare to find a DC electric car charging station in residential areas. And installation costs can soar up to $50,000. Even if you have money to burn, the electrical grid in residential areas won’t be able to support the such high demand for electricity.
How do I know if my home can accommodate an electric vehicle?
If street parking is your only option, you probably can’t accommodate an electric vehicle. As long as you have a driveway or a home garage to store your car, then you can install an EV home charging station.
Generally speaking, it’s ideal to park your car closer to an existing outlet. But there are chargers in the market that come with about 21 feet of cable as well as extension cords for your charging unit. So, as long as you can park within that distance, you shouldn’t have any problem if you want to install a home EV charging station.
If you have a detached garage far from the power source, you’d have to connect it to the house’s electrical panel to be able to supply power to your electric vehicle charger. And in some cases, this could involve complex wiring work, which could mean extra costs.
Another issue that may arise is whether your home’s electrical system can handle the added burden of car charging. Most residential electrical systems are not created with EV charging in mind. If you're unsure about your house's electrical readiness, consulting a licensed electrician can be helpful. One indication that an upgrade may be necessary is if your electrical panel lacks space for an additional circuit breaker.
How much does it cost to have an EV charger installed?
Installation costs of EV chargers vary based on where you live and how complicated the installation process is.
If you park right next to an electrical panel and you want to install a charger just a few feet away, installation, including permitting, could cost around $500. The total cost of installing one will go higher if your electrical panel needs upgrading.
Your electrical panel must be able to support the dedicated line for an EV charger. A new panel can set you back anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000, excluding the costs of having an EV charger installed.
If you need an electrical service upgrade, expect to shell out an average price of $5,000 to $8,000. These are on top of the cost of the charger itself and the monthly electric bill.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Charging speed will vary depending on the type of charger you’re using and your car’s State of Charge (SoC). Charging from 0% SoC will take longer than just merely topping off. Putting that into perspective, an average 200-mile range EV will take 35 to 50 hours to fully charge using a Level 1 charger, while the same car will take less than 10 hours to recharge with a Level 2 connector. With a DC fast charger, your battery could fill up in under an hour.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
There are a few factors that affect the average cost of charging an electric car, including how much your provider charges and even the time of the day you plug your EV.
Electricity costs are highly variable from state to state, and electricity providers offer a variety of rate plans too, so you could be paying more than someone who lives in Louisiana, where there are low electricity rates.
There’s also a time-of-use rate, which means your provider charges you less during off-peak hours. So, charging your EV overnight means bigger savings.
Some public charging stations offer free charging for the first 30 minutes, while others charge a fixed fee.
How much does an electric car charging station cost?
A Level 2 charging station can range from $300 to $1200. That excludes extra costs from installation, permits, and additional work if the electrical system needs an upgrade.
Can you charge an EV on a 240V outlet?
Yes, you can plug an EV into a 240v outlet. It’s the same outlet where you plug your air conditioner, dryer, and washer. But if you have multiple EVs, consider installing a dedicated charger.
Can you put a Level 2 charger at home?
Yes. You can either purchase a portable Level 2 charger and plug it into a 240v outlet or have a licensed electrician hardwire a charging station in your garage.