February 7, 2024

Charging at Home: Can Your Home Handle a Fast EV Charging Station Upgrade?


8 Min. Read

At-home electric vehicle charging is the future of fueling sustainable transportation. Whether you’re a prospective or current electric vehicle owner, you already know that EVs have significant benefits.

From saving money on fuel and saving time with the added convenience of charging at home, having a Level 2 EV charger installation for at-home EV charging is one of the best decisions you can make in your EV driving journey.

However, your home and the capacity of its electrical infrastructure can have a significant impact on your EV charging experience. In this article, we’ll explore the key considerations of at-home EV charging and how to get the fastest EV charging station experience from the comfort of your own home.

Assessing Your Home’s Electrical Capacity

As an EV owner, you have two options for at-home EV charging. The first option is to plug an EV charging cable into a standard outlet. This option, known as Level 1 EV charging, delivers around 1 kWh on a 120V circuit and isn’t practical due to slow charging speeds. Most EV drivers find that using a Level 1 EV charger is insufficient for their daily driving needs, as it can take over 40 hours of continuous EV charging to fully recharge an electric vehicle battery.

The fastest EV charging station you can get at home is a Level 2 EV charging station. This method uses EV charging equipment that runs on a dedicated 240V circuit and delivers up to 19 kWh. A majority of EV drivers prefer Level 2 EV charging at home due to the added convenience it provides, with a full charge delivered in 4 to 10 hours making it an ideal choice for overnight EV charging.

Because this charging method draws more electricity than a standard 120V appliance, your electrical panel will need enough room to accommodate a 240V circuit with a dedicated breaker. It also requires the amperage capacity for a charger that uses 16 to 80 amps, depending on the EV charger you select and this is something your licensed electrical contractors can discuss with you depending on your current panel or any panel upgrades you may need to support adding a Level 2 EV charger to your home.

Because a Level 2 EV charger installation will require hardwiring the charging station to your electrical panel or installing a dedicated, commercial-grade 240V outlet with sufficient grounding, it should always be performed by a licensed electrician with previous EV charger installation experience and training. Level 2 EV charging is unlike any other device in your home and will require a specific type of materials and different methods of installation to meet safety and efficiency requirements. While it might seem tempting to try this at home or hire a cheaper installer, this is one renovation upgrade you’ll want to have performed by a professional.

You might also need a panel upgrade if your panel needs more room to add a 240V circuit or if the amperage is insufficient. An outdated panel with insufficient amperage capacity means your EV charger will either limit how much power other circuits can draw or will deliver slower charging speeds. While a panel upgrade can increase the cost of your installation, it’s a great option in homes with 100-amp electrical panels or lower and can add value to your home by improving the safety and efficiency of your energy usage, while also helping prepare your home for the future.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Charging Station

Another key aspect of your at-home EV charging experience is the location of your EV charger installation. You should consider where you usually park and the length of the charging cable, but keep in mind that a greater distance from your electrical panel can increase the cost of your EV charger installation due to the need for additional materials. Also, be aware of how much clearance you’ll have around your EV when charging to ensure your intended EV charging location will be fully accessible for you.

You can find EV charging equipment rated for indoor or outdoor use, but you should check with your licensed electrician on any local building and electrical codes to learn more about installation requirements. An outdoor station can cost more if additional trenching work is needed and you’ll also need a NEMA 14-50 GFCI outlet rated for outdoor use if you choose not to hardwire your EV charging station.

Indoor charging means you won’t have to worry about keeping your charger free of leaves and snow, which can help limit the amount of EV charger maintenance and care. Parking inside will protect your EV from extreme temperatures while charging and extend the life of your EV charger by limiting its exposure to the elements.

Upgrading Your Home for Fast Charging

The EV charging market is growing at an annual rate of more than 30%, and manufacturers are offering more EV charging options than ever.

Most charging stations are universal, but it’s best to double-check compatibility since some stations don’t support all EVs, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

The fastest EV charging station is typically hardwired since plugging an EV charger into a NEMA 14-50 outlet can limit how much power the station draws. However, investing in a plug-in EV charging station means you can more easily take the equipment with you if you move. It’s a popular charging option among tenants due to the increased mobility of the EV charger.

You should also check your EV’s charging specs. A charging station can’t deliver more amps than your EV can draw, so having a higher-powered EV charger won’t speed up your EV charging if your electric vehicle can’t accept the maximum output of your charger. In short, purchasing an EV charging station rated for 60 amps is unnecessary if your EV battery won’t draw more than 30 amps.

Charging ports are another important consideration. Many EV manufacturers are phasing out J1772 ports in favor of the North American Charging Standard (NACS). Adapters are available, but a station with a port that matches your EV will perform better. Be sure to check which charging port your electric vehicle uses before purchasing and installing an EV charging station at home.

A professional EV charger installer can recommend the fastest EV charging station for your needs and help you get the most out of your electrification project while ensuring that your EV charger installation is safely and properly installed.

Smart Charging Solutions

If you’re looking to make the most of your at-home EV charger installation, you might want to consider purchasing a smart EV charging station.

Smart charging stations have several benefits, including giving you detailed insights into your charging habits, battery health, and energy consumption. You can also use smart features to schedule charging remotely and take advantage of lower time-of-use rates from your energy provider. Plus, smart stations can automatically download the latest firmware for optimal performance.

You can also combine a smart charger with a smart electrical panel to balance the power load automatically. A smart electrical panel can pause EV charging if other circuits are drawing too much power and prioritize which areas of your home most need power. As more utilities adopt virtual power plants, smart electrical panels will unlock additional benefits by communicating with the grid and any other energy transition technologies you install in your home.

If you have various power sources such as battery storage, solar panels, or a bidirectional-capable electric vehicle and EV charger, your smart electrical panel can seamlessly transition between your different technologies to prevent an outage, save you money, and enhance your overall energy management.

Environmental Considerations

EV adoption has many environmental benefits, but you can go further by charging with clean, renewable electricity. With renewable energy representing a quarter of all U.S. electricity by the end of 2024, clean charging will become available to more EV owners.

If you’re looking to take greater control of your energy independence and ensure your electric vehicle is fueled with renewable energy, integrating your EV charger with a solar array or upgrading your home with a local battery storage system is a great option to consider. Both measures can reduce the strain on the local grid and give you a reliable source of energy, independent of the electrical grid.

Maintaining your charging equipment and replacing outdated wiring can also support energy efficiency.

Future-Proofing Your Home for EV Technology Advancements

The next generation of EVs will feature NACS ports, bidirectional charging capabilities, and improved battery capacity.

A certified electrification expert can help you get the most out of your future electrification projects. There are many options to explore, and while a 200-amp panel upgrade is generally sufficient to future-proof your home, your electrician can perform a load calculation and offer recommendations to plan for an electrified future.

A smart charger that will support bidirectional charging will allow you to take advantage of net metering programs in the future, and preparing your home for future electrification needs can help you save time and money in the long-term.

Plan Your Electrification Project With an Expert

To get the most out of your at-home EV charging experience, assess your home’s electrical infrastructure and consider some upgrades to support faster EV charging.

One of the most important facts to know about charging an EV is that 80% of charging is done at home, generally overnight. Installing a Level 2 charger makes the ease of charging at home possible, but finding a qualified, experienced electrical contractor to install a Level 2 EV charger in your home can be tricky. 

About Qmerit

Qmerit is the trusted EV charging installation partner recommended by automakers. Rated #1 in customer satisfaction, we’ve installed over 269,000 charging stations across North America!

Join us in our mission to transform our planet to a more sustainable, energy-resilient, electric-powered future. Give us a call at (888) 272-0090 or complete our online EV assessment to receive an instant quote.

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network