Gas prices reached an all-time high last year, with high demand and low supply being the major contributing factors. With such volatility in the gas market, eco-conscious and sticker-shocked vehicle owners started to look to Electric Vehicles (EVs) as a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative. EVs offer owners a sense of self-sufficiency since owners are not at the mercy of major gas suppliers and epic gas hikes.
That said, for some, taking the leap and investing in an EV comes with some unknowns — they are still a relatively new and misunderstood technology, after all. For example, you may have concerns about how far you can go in your EV on one charge. Or you might wonder if you can charge your EV at home or if maintenance is expensive.
Today, we’re going to tackle the subject of electrical requirements for an EV installation and how viable it is for you to get a charging station installed for your home.
Levels of EV Chargers
EV chargers regularly come in three variants (or levels) — 1, 2 and 3. Most homeowners opt for a Level 2 for their electric car charger install. Here’s how they differ.
- Level 1 is a low-charge option. It requires 120 volts, and with that amount, it can be plugged into a regular household outlet. While the immediate convenience this offers may seem appealing, it can take up to 50 hours for an exclusively electric vehicle to charge and around six hours for a hybrid car to charge up. But this is still a good option for drivers who complete short commutes each day and who don’t plan on making long-distance journeys too frequently; you can leave your vehicle on charge overnight for short bursts of activity during the day.
- Level 2 is the option of choice for drivers who make farther jaunts from home and enjoy the convenience that a quick charge offers. The Level 2 charger is approximately seven times faster than the Level 1 for fully electric vehicles and three times faster for a hybrid. That said, the voltage requirements are higher at 240 volts for residential installs.
- Level 3, also known as DCFC or DC Fast Chargers, are not meant for homeowners and are designed exclusively for industrial or commercial use. They offer high-speed charging and require 480 volts to operate.
Installing a Charger at Home
Installing a Level 2 charger for convenient use at home is a relatively simple process with help from a licensed professional electrician and one who offers EV charger installation as a specialty. A note here that securing the help of a professional may be a legal requirement based on your location.
A professional electrician will assess your home’s electrical circuit and its bandwidth. They’ll likely suggest installing a new outside outlet in a convenient location (which they’ll help you pinpoint). There’s also the potential that they’ll need to run new wiring to this external outlet.
Further, they may be required to update your breaker panel to accommodate the 240 volts the charging station needs. If your board is currently full, they may need to install a subpanel. Ultimately, an electrician will be able to ascertain if your circuit can manage the stress of a second panel.
As with other electrical appliances, buffer room is recommended — it’s advised that the electrical circuit that the station gets linked to is rated to manage 25% more amperage than your charger’s output to offer sufficient buffer room.
While the upfront costs of installing an EV charging station may seem high, the ROI is excellent. A 2020 survey of EV owners found that they spent 60% less on electricity to charge their vehicle than the owners of gas-powered cars.
If you’ve been swayed by the convenience a home charger offers and you’re considering installing a station at home this year, it’s quite doable with help from a professional electrician.