December 27, 2023

How Many Amps Are Required for a Level 2 Charging Station?

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7 Min. Read

This article was originally published April 26, 2022 and was updated March 15, 2024.

As a new electric vehicle (EV) owner, you’ve most likely realized that the Level 1 charger (charging cord) delivered to your car is too slow for daily use and not convenient for travel. But driving to a faster public EV charging station can be inconvenient, charging rates are often higher, and waiting lines for charging can be long. So what is the solution? Installing a Level 2 charging station in your home is often the best option and will allow you to fully enjoy the electric driving experience.

Level 2 chargers offer better speeds than Level 1 chargers and are more convenient than public charging stations. But installation requirements of a Level 2 charger can leave homeowners wondering if at-home EV charger installation is the best option for them.

While at-home charging with a Level 2 station is a realistic solution, the installation process might entail a few electrical upgrades to your home depending on the age of your home, current electrical needs, and existing electrical infrastructure.

Learn more about how many amps are needed for Level 2 at-home EV charging and what it takes to upgrade your home with an EV charging solution in our latest electrification article.

How Many Amps Do Level 2 EV Chargers Pull?

Level 2 chargers are available in models that deliver from 15 to 80 Amps. The higher the amperage the faster the charging, but expect 4 to 10 hours of continuous usage to recharge your EV battery.

A Level 2 charger will also require a dedicated 240-volt circuit. 

A licensed electrician will install a dedicated 240V circuit rated for the amperage setting of your charger and will ensure the appropriate wires are used and all code requirements are met. Your home may already have this level of service if you have an electric clothes dryer. While utilizing an existing dryer outlet may seem sufficient, there are safety concerns due to the extended time required to charge your EV as well as the need for commercial-grade 240-volt wiring devices that make clothes dryer outlets unsuitable for EV charging.

Simply put, while an outlet designed for a dryer may work for a short-term charging need, it is not designed to safely provide the continuous, high-powered energy needed for routinely charging an electric vehicle.

What Size Breaker Do I Need for a Level 2 Charger?

Breakers protect your electrical circuits from overloads and short circuits by interrupting the circuit in case of a malfunction.

For safety reasons, a circuit’s continuous load shouldn’t exceed 80% of a breaker’s capacity, which means the breaker should exceed the circuit’s amperage by 20%. For instance, for a Level 2 EV charging circuit designed to handle 80 amps, an electrician should install a 100-amp breaker.

Can My House Handle a Level 2 Charger?

A Level 2 charger represents a continuous load of up to 80 amps. In the U.S., most homes run on 100 or 200-amp service. Some older homes still run on 60-amp service, requiring a panel upgrade to charge an EV or provide enough power for other electrical upgrades such as an electric dryer, range, or even central heating and cooling.

While a 100-amp panel can technically handle a Level 2 charger, a qualified electrician should perform a load calculation and assess whether your existing panel has the capacity to power the new chargers as well as enough room to install a new double-pole 240-volt breaker for the dedicated circuit.

Optionally, a load-shedding system can allocate charging to those times when the electrical load is minimal. Your certified installer can guide you through the options available and help you determine which options best suit your needs.

Why Level 2 Charging Stations Are the Best Solution for Most EV Drivers

The convenience and functionality of Level 2 chargers make them superior to other charging options, balancing speed, cost, and comfort. At the same time, having an at-home Level 2 EV charger enables EV drivers to skip lines at public charging stations and avoid waiting hours for a Level 1 charger to recharge their battery. 

Related: Comparing Level 1 and Level 2 Charging At Home

With Level 2 charging delivering speeds of up to 19 kWh and charging a battery in four to ten hours, drivers can plug in when they get home at night to conveniently charge their vehicle overnight, ensuring their EV is ready to go in the morning. The advantages of Level 2 charging at home include:

  • Providing convenience. Because your EV charging solution is in your home, you have access to it 24/7 without waiting in line.
  • Fitting your schedule and saving time. Plug it in when you get home, and your battery is being charged as you sleep. As a result, you spend less time pumping gas than you would with a conventional car.
  • Avoiding costs and hassles. You don’t have to drive to a public charging station and wait for your vehicle to charge. In addition, the price is up to 50% less than you would pay for public charging, and you’ll know the total cost in advance.

What Are the Requirements for Installing a Level 2 EV Charging Station in Your Home?

While the prerequisites for a Level 2 installation may not seem overly complex or challenging, it’s crucial to ensure that your charger is installed by a licensed professional experienced in EV charger installations. The quality and safety of your home or building will depend on the skills of your installer and their adherence to safety guidelines for EV charging installations.

As high voltage is involved, installing an EV charger is not a do-it-yourself project. Therefore, you should always enlist the services of a certified installer to perform the installation and resolve any unforeseen difficulties. An EV charger is unlike anything else in your home and will likely draw continuous power longer than all of your other appliances combined, so it’s important that your installer have experience in working with these types of technologies and have the skills and expertise required to safely install your charger.

Should the EV Charger Be Wired to the Panel?

The actual link of your charger to an electrical source requires a straightforward hardwired installation or the addition of a new NEMA 14-50 outlet. Deciding between a hardwired installation or a NEMA 14-50 outlet will depend on your charging needs and preferences, as they each offer different merits and drawbacks when it comes to charging your EV at home.

Hardwired installations provide a more stable connection to prevent nuisance tripping and do not require the addition of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), so they are the best option. Hardwiring your charger may be required depending on the amperage the charger provides. If you want to use a NEMA 14-50 outlet with a plug-in charger, be aware that many local electrical codes now require GCFI protection of NEMA 14-50 outlets in homes. Additionally, unplugging and plugging in the charger over time can lead to loosened wires that require additional maintenance and repair.

This new requirement complicates charger installations since most charging stations already include GFCI protection. Adding a second GCFI to the mix can cause conflicts and inadvertent tripping of breakers. Your qualified electrician can provide more information and help you select the best connection method for you.

Do I Need a Load-Shedding System?

Load-shedding systems for EVs are another option. These systems will activate charging only when the loads are minimal. These systems can leverage your existing panel capacity and eliminate the risk of panel overload.

Can You Install a Level 2 Charger at Home by Yourself?

While installing an EV charger may seem easy, DIY installations aren’t recommended unless you are an experienced electrician who has previously installed EV chargers and electrification infrastructure to support energy transition technologies. Installing an EV charger requires a careful load calculation and a potential panel upgrade. If you’re running a new circuit from the panel to a charger-mounted remote from the home, trenching may also be required.

Plugging a Level 2 charger into an existing outlet might seem like an accessible DIY project, but you’ll have to check that the outlet offers GFCI protection. You’ll also have to check the amperage rating and grounding of the circuit and ensure the circuit is rated for continuous commercial duty—as even though your charger will be used residentially, the continuous energy draw will require commercial components designed for this type of routine use.

Failing to take these precautions can result in an unsafe installation that could damage the charging equipment, turn into a fire hazard, and even void your home insurance policy.

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Author: Greg Sowder Greg Sowder President, Qmerit Network