With more electric vehicles (EV) than ever on the road, EV adoption is well on its way to supporting a cleaner future while improving mobility. For those considering making the switch, keeping the vehicle’s battery charged remains an important consideration.
Here’s what you need to know about at-home EV charging and what it takes to prepare your home for EV adoption.
The public EV charging infrastructure is growing, but more than 83% of EV owners do most of their charging at home, a trend that reflects the reduced cost and convenience of residential EV charging options.
With U.S. homes running on 120V current, all EV owners have access to Level 1 EV charging by simply plugging their vehicle into a standard outlet. This method delivers speeds of 1 kWh and can take more than 40 hours to fully charge a Battery Electric Vehicle, making it impractical for a majority of EV drivers with daily commutes or driving needs.
Most EV owners invest in a professional EV charger installation for Level 2 EV charging equipment, a solution that runs on a dedicated 240V circuit to deliver charging speeds of up to 19 kWh. Level 2 EV charging can fully charge a battery electric vehicle (BEV) in as little as 4 to 10 hours, making it an optimal choice for overnight charging. While the speed of charging can vary based on the charging equipment and EV, Level 2 EV charging represents a significant advantage in terms of speed and is a more practical option for at-home charging.
Level 3 EV chargers, also commonly known as DC Fast Chargers of DCFC, are the fastest method of EV charging, but are impractical for at-home EV charging and are more commonly used for public EV charging. With a fully charged battery in 30 minutes to less than 2 hours, DC Fast Chargers are often found along major roadways. Requiring a commercial level of electrical infrastructure, greater costs to install and maintain, and a need for a dedicated 480V connection, this method of charging is not suitable for at-home EV charger installation.
With Level 2 EV charger installation providing adequate range with overnight charging and being more accessible and cost-effective than utilizing public EV chargers, many homeowners find that installing a Level 2 EV charging station at home provides a convenient option that suits their needs. But regardless of whether you opt to utilize Level 1 EV charging with a standard outlet in your home or determine that a Level 2 EV charger installation will be a better option, working with a licensed electrician trained in EV charger installation to install and inspect your charger connection is crucial.
A qualified electrician skilled in EV charger installation will be able to inspect your home and existing infrastructure to determine how suitable your home is for EV charging or if you will need any upgrades to support your EV charging needs.
With Level 2 EV charging being the most viable option for at-home EV charging, you must consider whether your home’s electrical infrastructure can support a dedicated 240V circuit.
Your first step should be to assess your home’s electrical capacity, starting with your electrical panel. A Level 2 charging station can be hardwired onto a panel or plugged into a dedicated NEMA 14-50 outlet that runs on a 240V circuit. Depending on your panel’s configuration, you might be able to use an existing circuit, or you might have to add one to the panel.
Load capacity is another important consideration and your licensed electrician should always perform a load calculation before any EV charger installation or working with any other energy transition technology. The amperage of a panel represents the total amount of power it can safely draw and distribute. With Level 2 EV charging using 16 to 80 amps, charging your EV can quickly limit how much power other circuits can draw if you have a 100-amp panel.
Depending on your current panel capacity, you might need to upgrade to a 200-amp panel, an investment that will future-proof your home if you want to consider further electrification projects such as charging a second EV or installing an electric HVAC system. Alternatively, a load management device may sufficiently fill your needs for an EV charger installation by controlling how your energy use is prioritized, but it may not provide a long-term solution if you are considering any other electrical upgrades.
If you are considering a panel upgrade and want to explore alternative energy transition technologies in the future or more actively monitor and control how your energy is used, a smart electrical panel might also be a good consideration. These panels allow you to track and control your energy use in real-time.
Once you know if your home’s electrical system can support EV adoption, you should consider the different types of Level 2 EV chargers available.
Most products are universal, but some chargers will exclude a few EV makes and models. You should also consider the power output of the charger. Most models have a range that falls somewhere between 7 and 19 kWh, but keep in mind that the power output can’t exceed the capacity of your EV’s battery.
Charging ports are another critical consideration. J1772 is the current standard, but most EV automakers are in the process of adopting NACS ports. Adapters are available, but you can achieve optimal performance by choosing a charging station that matches your vehicle’s connector type.
Additional considerations include smart EV charging stations, hardwired versus plug-in models, and choosing a station rated for outdoor or indoor use. You can also consider getting a dual EV charging station if you plan on getting a second EV in the near future.
You’ll get the most out of your EV adoption project if you pick a safe and convenient charging location. Your EV charger installation should also follow the requirements outlined in the NEC and your local building and electric codes, which is something a professional and experienced EV charger installer can help you with.
Consider where you park your vehicle, the length of the charging cable, and how much clearance you’ll have around the vehicle. Depending on where you install the EV charging equipment, you might face additional costs for running a dedicated circuit to the panel or installing an outdoor outlet receptacle. Keep in mind that the climate of your home may impact your EV charging needs as well, so outdoor EV charging may need additional considerations.
EV adoption is an investment. There is an upfront cost for the charging equipment and installation, which can increase if you need electrical upgrades. The cost of an at-home EV charger installation will also vary depending on other complexities of your installation, such as the distance from the charger to the panel, the existing infrastructure and route the cabling must take, the pricing for qualified electricians where you live, and the higher quality of materials used for a safe and proper EV charger installation that will last for years to come without putting your EV or your home at risk.
With EV owners spending an average of $60 a month on charging at home, savings will add up quickly, especially with public EV charging costing significantly more. You can also take advantage of incentives and rebates to offset the initial cost.
For instance, you can claim 30% of the initial charger installation cost with a limit of $1,000 through the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit. The Alternative Fuels Data Center has a database of additional incentives available at the state, local, and utility levels.
Beyond helping you save at the pump, EV adoption has some significant advantages in terms of reducing your carbon footprint. EV adoption can reduce your CO2 pollution by 30-90%, depending on where you live and how your utility provider produces electricity.
You can maximize this benefit by charging your EV with clean, renewable energy. Be sure to ask how your energy provider produces electricity, and consider investing in a solar array and local battery storage solution. This approach can further reduce the cost of charging your EV and provide you with greater energy independence from the electrical grid.
With 80% of EV charging is done at home, generally overnight, installing a Level 2 EV charger makes the ease of charging at home possible and convenient!
One of the biggest investments you can make in your EV adoption journey is Level 2 EV charger installation, but hiring a qualified individual can be the difference between costly repairs for electrical damages caused by melting wires or other components versus years of safe, high-quality, and efficient EV charging.
So how do you find qualified, experienced contractors to install a Level 2 EV charger? Qmerit can help.
With the largest network of certified EV charger installers in North America, we’ve installed more EV chargers and other energy transition technologies than anyone else and have built a reputation for excellence. Our mission is to make electrification easy, and as the most trusted electrification and EV charger installation network in the United States and Canada, we’ve helped thousands of businesses and homeowners with EV adoption and high-quality EV charger installations made to last.
Contact Qmerit today for more information on EV charger installation and let us help make your EV adoption journey even easier!