What You Need to Know About EV Charger Installation

EV charger installation: electrician fixing cable

You’ve done all the research, picked out a stylish new electric vehicle that’s in your budget, and it’s almost time to drive it home. Don’t forget there’s one more thing to think about before you start saving money on costly gasoline: your home EV charger installation.

While the network of public charging stations continues to expand across the United States, many electric car owners also prefer the convenience of having a home charging station. Having an electric vehicle charger at home is a fast, safe, and convenient way to keep your EV charged and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

Whether you live in an apartment building or own your own home, setting up your EV charger is an integral part of the electric car experience. Here, we’ll discuss the basics of EV charger installation, basic charging equipment, charging options, installation costs, and more.

EV Charger Installation: Terms to Know

Like the installation of any major appliance, EV charger installation involves a lot of terminology that people with no background in the electric grid or EV charging infrastructure might find confusing. Below is a list of a few terms you’ll need to be familiar with before you get started on your EV charger installation.

  • EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment): The acronym EVSE stands for “electric vehicle supply equipment,” but it refers to much more than the tools and equipment utilized to charge an EV. EVSE also represents an industry-wide set of standards that keeps you and your car safe while charging. Certified EVSE equipment detects hardware faults and prevents battery damage, electrical shorts, and even fire from malfunctioning units. In the U.S., EVSE can be certified under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Level 1 home charging station: Level 1 chargers are EVSE that come with your EV, and that are produced by your EV’s manufacturer. These chargers connect to any standard 120-volt outlet. The average output for a Level 1 charger is 124 miles in 20 hours of charging time
  • Level 2 home charging station: Level 2 chargers, also known as “fast chargers,” are produced by independent EVSE manufacturers. Their installation is slightly more complex due to the fact they output a larger amount of electricity. Level 2 chargers are powered by 240-volt outlets, and can charge three to seven times faster than Level 1 chargers, depending on the type of EV.

Preparing Your Home for an EV Charging Station

The time, cost, and ease of your EV charging installation is entirely dependent on the age of your home and its surrounding electric grid. If your home is older than 50 years, you may need to upgrade your connection to the main power grid in order to support both a Level 1 or Level 2 electric car charger

Some EV charger installations can be done simply by plugging the unit into a wall outlet. That said, utilizing a wall outlet to power a Level 1 charger will result in extremely long charging times. This is why many EV drivers who utilize a home charging system prefer a wall-mounted, “hardwired” EV charger installation

Homeowners are strongly encouraged to hire a licensed electrician to install any hardwired Level 1 fast charging systems. Level 2 EV charger installations require intricate knowledge of residential electric systems and connection of your new charging unit to your home’s circuit breaker.

Costs Associated With Installing an EV Charger

EV charger installation: electrician fixing a switchboard

While Level 1 charging units are included in the purchase cost of your EV, the average cost of an EV charger is between $300 and $1,000 for a Level 2 charging unit. The cost of an EV charger installation ranges from between $300 and $600, depending on the age of your home’s electric grid and the amount of work necessary to make sure the charger can run properly and safely. 

The cost of charging an electric car at home varies dramatically for several reasons. The first variable is what your particular electric provider chargers per kilowatt-hour. Unlike common appliances like refrigerators, EV charging does utilize electricity on a constant basis. As such, one needs to rely on general estimates to determine how much charging their vehicle at home will cost.

A 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Electric BEV all-electric vehicle, for example, has a charging rate of 25 kWh per 100 miles. As such, if you drive 15,000 miles in a year, you’ll use 3,750 kWh of power, so your annual energy cost would be $375, at an electric rate of 10 cents per kWh). Kilowatt-hour rates vary dramatically both via region and seasonally, so it’s important to contact your electric company prior to your EV charger installation to get a firm grasp on how prices fluctuate in your area.

Other Things to Consider

Woman leaving her car while it charges

A home EV charger installation may not be the best strategy for every driver. Before opting for a Level 2 charging station installation in your home, there are some things you should consider.

Public Charging Stations

Public electric car charging stations can be a feasible option for charging your EV, although they are slightly more expensive than charging at home. According to a study by the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, public charging costs nearly twice as much as at-home charging: 8 to 9 cents per mile at a public station compared to 4.42 cents when charging your EV at home. 

Access to public charging stations is highly individualized. Some people utilize public charging units offered by their employers at their place of work, while others live in large apartment buildings that provide EV charging stations to their residents. 

Take a survey of both public charging networks and charging networks owned by the manufacturer of your car. Drivers with close access to a variety of public charging options near where they live and work could be a feasible alternative to EV charger installation

Apps

All EV automakers have accompanying apps that EV drivers can utilize in a variety of ways to make charging effective and more affordable. In addition to allowing drivers to monitor their battery use, these apps also help EV owners locate nearby public charging stations and identify the costs associated with charging their EV. 

EV drivers who purchase a Tesla model, for example, are given access to the brand’s Supercharger network, which is a nationwide system of charging units close to major highways and convenient amenities. 

Rebates

Rebate programs from the U.S. Department of Energy as well as from state and local governments can help save drivers money on EV charger installations. The Department of Energy runs a database where EV drivers can research rebate and tax incentive programs in their area. 

Plug in at Home

A professional, licensed electrician should be able to complete an EV charger installation in one day, particularly if your home’s electric grid is contemporary. Remember, while the installation of an EV charger may carry a significant upfront cost, you’ll still be ahead of the game — thanks to the years of savings you have ahead by forgoing a gas-powered automobile. 

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