by Gary Ashton
Homeowners looking into electric vehicles (EVs) often decide that they need a charging station at home. The rare few that are familiar with performing their own electrical work and with securing the necessary permits may want to self-install a hard-wired or portable charging station. However, before installing an electric charging station at home, please carefully consider your current skill level and speak with a local electrician.
Proper installation is necessary, as the home’s electrical system must be able to support the additional load. Understand the following considerations with regard to installing a personal electric car charging station today:
The Type of Electric Car Charging Station
The majority of common “Level 2” charging designs (which offer approximately 25 miles of range per hour of charge) need a 240-volt source, which is roughly the same amount of power that a clothes dryer needs. By comparison, “Level 1” charging uses a regular household current of 120 volts. It may be possible to find a 240-volt source of power from an area in your garage. However, before proceeding with any installation, talk with a professional electrician and see whether or not a specific home’s wiring can support the additional demand.
An additional item to consider is to look at the viability of installing the charger close to the garage door in order to be able to charge a vehicle in the driveway when necessary. Also note that it is easier to dedicate a circuit for the installation when there is a fuse panel or electrical entry into the garage. It may be more difficult (or more costly) to perform the installation when a power point is not as accessible.
Professional Installation of Electrical Components
While some homeowners may want to go the DIY route, it can benefit homeowners to find out whether such changes may have to be done by a professional. Licensed and certified electricians are aware of current standards and can take necessary precautions when attempting to install new EV charging stations. Individuals who have decided to install their own charging equipment may run into problems later on, due to inadequate or improper permitting. Additionally, safety is a big concern whenever making renovations, and most DIYers will suggest using professional services when working around electricity for at least that reason.
Permits for Your Charging Station
Depending on city or county regulations, homeowners may need to apply for specific permits before installing an EV charging station. As a homeowner may need to verify many details, including whether or not the home can deal with the additional electric load, it may simply be easier to hire an electrician.
What Homeowners Need to Know
Wiring is an important step. Locating an accessible power source and making sure a home’s system can handle the additional load is part of the initial installation process. Additional steps include:
- Deciding whether you want to use Level 1 or Level 2 charging;
- Determining the best location for the equipment;
- Choosing the specific brand of station you wish to use, based on various options that may come with the equipment;
- If desired, installation of a 240-volt line to an area below the charging station;
- Ensuring that the new circuit has a capability of 50 Amps for best results;
- Having an electrician install a socket (A NEMA 6-50 is used in the majority of charging states that are not hard wired); and
- Installing the equipment after the garage is properly wired.
Installation can be done on a circuit of only 24 Amps. However, it is best to have a charging capability of 40 Amps (80% of the circuit capacity). A 16-25 foot cord is also recommended, in order to reach an electric car that may be parked on the driveway.
Currently, there are dozens of charging stations available. Homeowners can find an electric car charging station from Lowe’s or Home Depot or can purchase one directly online. Researching the kinds available will help electric car owners make the best choice for their needs.