March 8, 2024

Want to Install an EV Charging Station At-Home? Here's Why Quality Matters Even When Using the Right Materials

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8 Min. Read

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of transportation, and millions of drivers around the world have already made the switch from outdated and expensive-to-maintain gas-powered vehicles to EVs.

However, widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption will require the development of an adequate and reliable EV charging network, including access to at-home EV charging for an affordable and convenient experience.

As a current or prospective EV owner, upgrading your home with a Level 2 EV charger installation is a major step in your electrification journey and will help you fully enjoy the electric vehicle experience.

Electric vehicle charging isn’t like anything else in your home. To make the most of your investment while also ensuring the safety of your family and home, hiring an electrician with the right training and experience in EV charger installation who will use the correct materials is crucial.

Here’s why quality is vital to your EV charger installation project, and why working with a qualified professional remains the best way to ensure success, safety, and longevity when you install an EV charging station.

The Basics of EV Charger Installation

All EV charging solutions share a few basic components. The most important one is the charging unit, a device that regulates the power drawn to charge your vehicle. These charging units, also known as electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE, come with a user interface and built-in safety features designed to protect your EV battery during charging.

Additionally, any EV charger installation project will require wiring that runs from the charging unit to your home’s electrical panel to provide power for the charger. While some charging units are hardwired into the panel, others plug into a dedicated 240V outlet rated for EV charging.

The Crucial Role of Wiring in EV Charger Installation

EV charging requires a continuous load, so there is a risk of overheating. The best way to mitigate this risk is to install wiring rated for the charging unit you’re using.

Residential EV charging has lower power requirements compared to a commercial EV charging station, but it can still draw up to 80 amps, depending on the EV charger you purchase and whether you choose to hardwire your EV charger or utilize a NEMA 14-50 outlet for a plug-in connection.

The high, continual amperage makes copper wiring the preferred choice due to its better thermal conductivity. In fact, most EV chargers aren’t rated for aluminum wiring since it’s generally an unsafe choice for any device that continually uses high powers of energy such as electric vehicles charging overnight, every night.

Aluminum wire can contract and expand over time as a result of heating and cooling from use as electricity passes through the wire, which leads to loosened connections and can result in melted components, electrical fires, and other safety hazards. While using aluminum wiring may save you on your upfront installation fees, the cost of using lower-quality and improperly graded wires can be catastrophic and even deadly.

To safely install an EV charging station at home, you’ll also have to install wiring with the right gauge or thickness. In most cases, six-gauge wires are ideal since they match the terminals of the charger while being rated for 60 amps or more but depending on your home, intended use, and existing electrical infrastructure, your licensed electrician may suggest alternate options that will better suit your needs while still providing a safe and efficient charging experience.

Outlet Grades and Their Implications

If you want to install an EV charging station that plugs into an outlet, you’ll have to pick the right product based on its National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) rating. An outlet’s NEMA rating indicates under which circumstances the product is safe to use.

If you are installing an outlet to plug your EV charging station in instead of hardwiring the EV charger, a NEMA 14-50 outlet should be used for at-home Level 2 EV charging. Under the National Electrical Code, you’ll also need a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shocks at the outlet level.

This outlet can handle up to 50 amps, however, not all NEMA 14-50 outlets are designed for the continuous load that a Level 2 EV charger will require, which can result in melted components and electrical fires, and creates a dangerous risk over time. While this is the same outlet type commonly used for residential clothes dryers, you do not typically use your dryer continuously for 4-10 hours every day.

Hardwiring the charging equipment directly into your electrical panel allows you to bypass these requirements, while potentially enhancing reliability and performance. If your EV charger is designed to handle more than 50 amps, it can also help you unlock the full capabilities of your at-home EV charging experience.

When you install an EV charging station and hardwire it directly to the electrical panel, it not only helps eliminate some of the additional installation requirements and allows for you to enjoy a higher powered EV charging experience, but by eliminating the outlet and a stress point, it also creates a safer and more efficient charging experience for years to come.

A qualified electrician can help you compare both options and determine which one makes the most sense for your home, charging needs, and current electrical infrastructure.

The Impact of High-Quality Materials

Investing in high-quality materials can result in a slightly higher upfront cost for your electrification project. Good planning will pay off in the long term, however, when you install an EV charging station the right way and with the right materials as you can safely and confidently enjoy years of worry-free charging.

EV charging requires a continuous load, so damaged or outdated wiring can overheat and put you and your family at risk. The best way to mitigate this risk is to have a qualified electrician install quality wiring and ensure that you are properly maintaining and inspecting your EV charger.

Quality wiring ensures efficient energy transfer with little to no loss, resulting in a better-performing system that charges your EV in a more cost-effective manner.

Before you invest in at-home charging, you should also know that the EV industry is at a turning point. Automakers are planning to adopt a new charging standard known as the North American Charging Standard. This new standard has some performance advantages, and it’s likely that the next EV you buy will support NACS charging.

You can already find NACS plugs if you visit a commercial EV charging station, but a growing number of residential products are now supporting this standard. Investing in high-quality wiring will future-proof your electrification project. It will also ensure that you can upgrade to a NACS charging unit when the time is right. An expert can help you pick a charging unit that has been properly tested and certified.

The Consequences of Poor Material Choices

Cutting corners on materials will at best result in a disappointing charging experience and at worst put your family and home at risk.

Low-quality wiring or wiring that isn’t rated for your charging unit represents a serious risk of overheating, which can result in an electrical fire. Failing to hire a qualified electrician can also increase the risks of shocks, arcing, and other electrical issues if mistakes are made during the installation process. You’ll also face more frequent and expensive maintenance over the years.

If you opt for a system that uses an outlet, investing in a quality product with the right NEMA rating is crucial. An outlet that isn’t rated for the amperage of your charging unit will constantly trip the circuit breaker, and a product that fails to incorporate GFCI protection could make you vulnerable to shocks.

Plug-In to the Right Electrician

Contacting a licensed electrician with EV certifications and experience should be a priority if you’re thinking about upgrading your home with a Level 2 charging station.

A qualified professional can assess your situation, recommend the right products, and answer all your questions. They’ll know which manufacturers to trust based on their experience and be able to recommend wiring, outlets, and other components rated for use with the charging unit you picked.

The right electrician will also follow all safety regulations when hardwiring your charger or installing an outlet, but they’ll also have knowledge specific to the safety of EV charging station installation such as torquing everything to the correct specifications and using the right materials to do it. This is vital for protecting your home from potential electrical hazards.

In addition to following all NEC and local regulations, the expert you work with will know which permits to pull for the project, a crucial step for ensuring your electrification project doesn’t void your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Not all electricians will have the experience and knowledge of working with EV charger installation, so it’s important to ensure your electrician has previous experience and training with this technology to ensure your EV charger will be safely installed. Unfortunately, even a licensed electrician can improperly install an EV charging station if they haven’t completed the right training and certifications.

Harness the Power of the Future With Qmerit

From improved safety to better performance and lower maintenance costs, investing in high-quality materials and an experienced EV charger installer for your at-home EV charging project has several benefits.

Navigating the EV charging equipment market by yourself can be challenging, which is why it’s best to reach out to a qualified electrician early in the planning process. Besides addressing safety and performance, the right electrician will identify the best charging products for your needs and budget.

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