November 15, 2023

EV Charger Installation Preparation Checklist - What You Need To Know


6 Min. Read

Installing an EV charging station in your home will help you get the most out of your electric vehicle, but there are a few practical questions to consider. Proper planning will ensure that this electrification project is convenient to use and meets all your current and future needs.

In this article, we’ll cover the key factors you should consider as you prepare for your at-home EV charger installation.

Site Assessment and Planning

If you’re wondering how to install an EV charging station, it’s usually best to start by considering the unique configuration of your property.

Optimal Location

The location of your home, electric panel, and preferred EV charging station is one of the first things to think about when considering how to install an electric vehicle charging station.

A qualified electrician can help pick a convenient spot that you can access from your usual parking spot. Most charging cables measure between 18 and 25 feet, which means the charging station doesn’t necessarily have to be close to your parking spot, but you should consider whether the cable will get in the way and become a potential hazard.

Your electrician will also consider the distance between the charging equipment and your home’s electrical panel. If you add new wiring, the distance can increase the project’s cost since the installer will have to do additional trenching and drywalling work.

Keep in mind that a more complex installation that requires trenching, navigating crawl spaces, goes through a finished basement, or is a significant distance away from the electric panel will require additional labor and can increase the cost of your installation. A licensed electrician can work with you to determine the least complex option, but certain complexities may be unavoidable depending on your home layout and existing electrical infrastructure.

Electrical Capacity

When installing an electric vehicle charging station, load calculation should always be a priority. Charging an EV can draw anywhere from 16 to 80 amps. With many homes running on 100-amp panels, EV charging can take up a significant percentage of your home’s electrical capacity and an overburdened panel can lead to outages and other electrical hazards.

An electrician may be able to address this issue by installing a load management device prioritizing EV charging and other vital electrical needs over other circuits or by installing a subpanel, however, it’s usually best to increase the load capacity with a 200-amp panel upgrade to future-proof your home and avoid the need of additional panel upgrades in the future.

With over 37% of households owning two vehicles, upgrading your electrical panel is a worthy investment since you might need to charge two EVs in the future or power other electrification projects, and a 200-amp panel is better equipped to power your home, any electrical appliances, and your electric vehicles.

Equipment Selection and Compatibility

The EV charging market is currently growing at an annual rate of 36%. Manufacturers are offering more options than ever, and choosing a charging product can be a challenging aspect of installing an EV charging station.

Charging Unit Type

Owners can choose from three types of EV charging units, but not all three options are a realistic solution when installing an electric vehicle charging station at home.

  • A Level 1 charging cable plugs into a standard 120V outlet. It’s a portable solution with no upfront cost, but getting a full charge can take over 40 hours. Ultimately, many EV drivers find that Level 1 EV charging is a great emergency option, but it is typically insufficient to meet their daily charging needs.
  • A Level 2 charging station drastically reduces the charging time to 10 hours or less. It’s the most popular at-home charging solution, but requires a dedicated 240-volt circuit and often requires an electrician if any electrical work is required to install this charger. You may also need a panel upgrade, which can be costly. Even so, a majority of EV drivers prefer charging at home with Level 2 EV charging.
  • Level 3 or DC fast charging stations are powerful enough to fill up a battery in 60 minutes or less, but the upfront cost, accelerated battery degeneration, and 500-amp or higher electrical load make Level 3 chargers unrealistic for residential use. These chargers are a great option for topping off your EV while traveling, but can be pricy to use and chargers can have long lines.

Level 2 charging is the most viable solution for at-home charging, but you’ll have to choose between two main types of chargers:

  • Some chargers plug into a 240-volt outlet. It’s an affordable solution if you already have a 240V outlet in your garage, but relying on an outlet can limit the charger’s capacity. An EV charger will also require a higher-grade of NEMA 14-50 outlet that is capable of withstanding consistent daily use.
  • Hardwiring a Level 2 charging station to your electrical panel is more complex and can entail additional installation costs, but it’s the best and safest way to upgrade your home with a fast and reliable EV charging solution.
  • Some chargers may also require a hardwired connection for maximum output, but can operate at a lower level with an outlet.

EV Compatibility

Compatibility isn’t a major concern when installing an EV charging station.

Nearly all EVs on the North American market currently use the J1772 plug. Last year, many electric vehicle automakers announced plans to replace this existing standard with the North American Charging Standard (NACS) plug developed by Tesla. This change is anticipated to take place in EV models as early as 2025.

For EVs released prior to 2024, charging equipment with a standard J1772 will remain the best option. Newer EVs with the NACS port will either require upgraded charging equipment or an adapter to work with a legacy J1772 plug.

Professional Installation and Compliance

Due to the high voltage required EV charging and especially Level 2 EV charging, it is crucial to incorporate best practices and National Electric Code requirements into your installation project for a safe charging experience.

Choose a Certified Electrician

The NEC has strict requirements regarding EV charging station location, charging cables, ventilation, electric shock protection, and more, Electrical work such as installing a dedicated EV charging station circuit either through a hardwired connection or a NEMA 14-50 outlet often requires permitting and an inspection to ensure the installation is safe and meets all federal and local code requirements.

These rules aim to create an stable environment where charging equipment can safely deliver 240V of power without damaging the EV battery or increasing the risk of electrical shock or fire.

A qualified electrician can assess your unique risks and design a safe system that follows or exceeds NEC requirements.

Permits and Regulations

Regulations can vary from one municipality to another, and a certified electrician can help you navigate the rules established by the NEC and your municipality.

For instance, you’ll need to obtain an electrical permit to hardwire a Level 2 charger to your electrical panel. If you’re opting for a plug-in charger, you will need to follow NEC regulations and install a GFCI outlet in your garage or next to your outdoor parking space for added ground fault protection.

Plan Your EV Charging Station Installation Project with Qmerit

Installing an electric vehicle charging station requires careful planning. You should consider your home’s configuration, the load capacity of your electrical panel, and which charging product makes the most sense for your needs.

Qmerit can connect you with a certified electrician to make your at-home EV charger installation a seamless process. With over 269,000 EV charging station installation projects to-date and the most trusted network of certified EV charger installers in North America, you can feel confident with your EV charger thanks to Qmerit’s Peace of Mind Guarantee and expert installers. Find out why our EV charging installers are trusted by top automakers, businesses, and homeowners, and get an estimate for your project by contacting Qmerit today!

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network