Electric cars are the way of the future. And while many users prefer to recharge their EV at a dedicated fast car charger or Supercharger, much like refueling through a gasoline station, you still get an enormous advantage if you can recharge at home.
But what do you need to install a plug for your EV in your garage? Here are some things to consider.
What Car Do You Have? And What Are You Planning to Buy in the Future?
If you’re driving a Tesla and only plan to buy Tesla cars in the future, then your best bet is to get a Tesla Wall Connector. However, if you’re driving an electric car from another brand or planning to buy a different brand in the future, you should know what standard they’re using.
There are currently three common standards in the US—Tesla’s connector, Nissan and Mitsubishi’s CHAdeMO, and CCS for everyone else. While it’s ideal to have a home EV charger from your car’s manufacturer, it’s wiser to have a third-party charger that supports all three standards.
How Fast Do You Want to Charge?
When installing a charger at home, one of the main questions you have to answer is, “How fast do you want to recharge your vehicle?”
Charging From a 110-Volt Home Outlet
If you bought a Tesla before April 2022, it would’ve arrived with a complimentary mobile connector. This accessory allows you to charge your electric car from a 110-volt home outlet. However, Tesla has stopped including this with their cars. That’s because charging directly from your household outlet takes a long time.
For example, a Tesla Supercharger adds up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. In comparison, the mobile connector only delivers around three miles per hour. That means you need 50 hours to get 150 miles into your Tesla.
Despite that, using an ordinary outlet in your garage is still a good way to top-up your electric car, especially if you don’t drive a lot during the week.
Install a 240-Volt Circuit for Level 2 Charging
While installing a Level 3 Fast Charger at your house might be tempting, it’s practically impossible due to residential and legal limitations. Nevertheless, you can still install a faster Level 2 Charger in your garage.
If you already have an existing 240-volt outlet, you can purchase a ChargePoint Home Flex that plugs in via a NEMA 6-50 or NEMA 14-50 plug. This charger can juice up your car as fast as 37 miles per hour.
Those who don’t have the required plug can opt for a hardwired charger instead. If you’re taking this route, you can choose ChargePoint or Tesla’s Wall Connector. Depending on your car’s model, the latter can recharge your vehicle much faster, adding 30 to 44 miles per hour. However, it can only recharge Tesla products, unlike the former, which can recharge almost any model.
The Installation Site
Installing a home charger is convenient if you have your own secured garage. However, if you’re only renting your space, parking in an open garage, or sharing a parking slot, you need to work with your landlord or property manager.
Nevertheless, even if you have your own property, securing your charger is still wise to avoid unauthorized charging. If you have a secured garage, then you won’t have any issues, but if your car charger is publicly accessible, someone might just recharge their vehicle there while you’re away.
Even if some chargers have apps that can control when they will charge your car, it’s just better to avoid the hassle of dealing with an unauthorized user by locking away your home car charger.
Do You Have Sufficient Electrical Supply?
While almost all car chargers require a licensed electrician for installation, you must know your home’s electrical capacity. Most car chargers require an 80-amp breaker, so ensure that your home electrical system can accommodate that additional load.
Otherwise, even if you have an existing 240-volt outlet, you’ll have to upgrade your entire system to accommodate the charger. If you overload your electrical system, you will suffer from electrical instability and breaker trips at best, and it could cause a fire at worst.
Save With Solar
While recharging your electric car is certainly cheaper than getting a full tank of gas, why not take it one step further and get free power courtesy of the sun? If you can afford it, consider installing a solar panel on your roof to reduce your dependence on the main power grid. That way, even if your area loses power, your home and your car stay powered.
Permits and Legal Leg Work
Aside from the physical work you need to do to connect your EV charger, you may need to submit documentation and permits before starting. The requirements vary from city to city and state to state. These may include the application form, floor plans, installation instructions from the manufacturer, and electrical load calculations.
The US Department of Energy did release a Permit for Charging Equipment Installation [PDF] template that various local governments can use. Still, you should check with your city to know what you need.
Hire a Pro Instead
You can DIY a home EV charger if you’re knowledgeable, especially if it’s a plug-in model. However, if you’re planning to hardwire the installation or you’re not familiar and confident with electrical work, it’s best to consult with and hire a licensed electrician instead.
These professionals will know more about your electrical system’s capacity, the optimal circuit location, and the required paperwork you need to install an electric car charger. If you don’t know any electrician who has experience with EV chargers, many manufacturers can help you find a certified professional, like Tesla’s Find an Electrician tool.
A Hassle-Free Drive
Despite the growing number of Superchargers and other fast EV charging ports globally, it’s still prudent to have a home charger. That way, you can keep your car topped up when you aren’t using it, and you also reduce the risk of getting your car unplugged by inconsiderate drivers while you’re away.
While fast EV charging now lets you top up 200 miles of range in 15 minutes, it’s still three times longer than filling up at a gas station. And if you live in a city where the infrastructure isn’t yet up to speed, finding a charging station would definitely be a hassle.
Consider getting your personal EV charger an investment, especially if you have your own space. That’s because the convenience and cheaper recharging costs offset the initial cost. You can even time your recharge with lower electrical costs during off-peak hours or install solar panels to get almost free electricity.