Although the financial, environmental and performance benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) often get the most attention, another perk is their convenience. What if, rather than having to stop at a gas station on your way home from work or an errand, you could wake up every day with your car ready to go. For many EV drivers, that’s precisely what happens.
Because EVs run on electricity, you can charge them wherever there’s an outlet, even a regular 120-volt electric socket works. This type of charging is known as Level 1, and while handy, it is quite slow, on the order of 3 to 5 miles of vehicle range per hour.
Still, this setup may be sufficient if you have brief, predictable commutes or if you own a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that has a shorter electric range. (These typically drive 10-50 miles on electricity before switching to gasoline.) EVs come with all the equipment you need for Level 1 charging, and there’s no extra labor needed, so it’s your simplest option.
Many drivers, however, opt for a quicker Level 2 arrangement. This type of charging uses a 240-volt outlet (what’s used for clothes dryers) and delivers 12 to 60 miles of range per hour. Installing a Level 2 charging station often requires the help of an electrician, and depending on the work and upgrades required, could cost from several hundred to over a thousand dollars. Popular manufacturers of Level 2 home chargers include JuiceBox from Enel X, ClipperCreek, ChargePoint and Siemens. You can view available options on Plug In America’s PlugStar website.
Some electric utilities offer incentives for installing a Level 2 charging station, so be sure to check if that’s a possibility for you. And at a broader level, it’s also a good idea to contact your utility if you are adding one.Level 1 Charging Level 2 Charging Voltage 120V 1-phase AC 208V or 240V 1-phase AC Amps 12-16 12-80 Charging Load 1.4-1.9 kW 2.5-19.2 kW (typically 6.6 kW) Charging Time 3-5 miles/hour 12-60 miles/hour
To get the most out of your home charging, here are some additional considerations:
- If you are installing a new outlet, choose a place near a frequent parking spot, such as in a garage or carport/driveway (and with easy access to the charging port on your vehicle). If available, garages offer the simplest installation, limit exposure to the elements and prevent unwanted access.
- No matter where the outlet is located, make sure there is available space on the floor, walls and ceiling.
- Be mindful of overhead doors or objects that may obstruct your vehicle’s ability to plug in.
- Make sure the charging cord can be stored securely when not in use, and avoid locations that will require it to be wrapped around or draped over your vehicle.
With a couple of options for charging your EV at home, make sure to evaluate your needs so you end up with the best choice for you. If you’re hesitant to splurge on a Level 2 station, see how things go with Level 1 charging first. Either way, it’ll be nice knowing you have a built-in place to charge whenever you’re home.