Have you noticed more parking lots have given over a few spots to EV charging stations recently? As EV vehicles become more common, demand for charging infrastructure grows. The federal government has a goal to install 500,000 new EV chargers by 2035.
But we’re still a long way from that goal, and if you commit to an EV, you need power now. A home EV charger installation means you don’t have to depend on the build-out of public stations to keep your car powered up.
Most manufacturers include a charger cable with your vehicle. But unless you only drive a few times a week or take very short trips, you need a better way to get the power into the battery. A dedicated charger gives you the safest, fastest, and most economical charge for your EV.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about these systems and how to get one installed in your garage.
What Is a Home EV Charger?
You probably plug your phone in every night so you have power for calls, texts, and games the next day. While you could hunt down an outlet anytime you run low on power, it’s just less convenient to have to sit and wait for it to charge when you’re trying to get stuff done.
It’s a similar concept for an electric car. Being able to plug it in overnight at home means you start the day with a full battery and can avoid the detour to a public charging station.
The charging cable that comes with your car allows you to plug directly into a regular home outlet, which makes them mighty convenient. However, to use that outlet, the charger doesn’t pull much power so you only get about five miles of driving per hour of charging.
A dedicated EV charger supports a higher power draw, which gives you a faster and more complete charge. You can probably get better rates on the electricity than you would pay at a public station. Plus, you don’t have to find a station and hope that the chargers are working and are compatible with your EV.
How Does It Work?
You’re probably familiar with the terms AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) when it comes to electricity. Your wall outlet sends out AC power, but a battery stores DC power.
Your charger doesn’t just send power from the grid to the battery. It also has to convert the power from AC to DC so the battery can use it.
With AC chargers, the conversion happens after the power is received via a converter built into the car. A DC charger converts the power within the charger unit so it sends the correct current right when you plug in. This is why DC chargers have faster charging speeds.
However, not every EV can make use of a DC charger, and you have to consider other factors when choosing your power source.
Types of Chargers
Back to the idea of plugging in your phone, you might have noticed that some cables you use charge your phone faster than others. That’s because different cables have different capacities for the amount of power they can handle.
EV chargers work similarly with three basic types that deliver different charging results.
Level 1 Charging Station
This is your simplest option and typically the type of charger used by the charging cable that comes with the vehicle. It uses the basic household current of 110-120v and can plug into a standard grounded outlet.
While simple is nice, a recharge with a Level 1 station can be agonizingly slow. It’s really only a good option for a hybrid, which needs less time to recharge, or as an emergency backup.
Level 2 Charging Station
These chargers use 240v circuits, which are used for appliances like your washer and dryer. Some can plug directly into a 240v outlet, which you might already have in your garage, or they can be hardwired directly into the circuit.
Because it can pull more power than a Level 1, it can charge your EV in a quarter of the time. A battery with 200 miles of range can fully charge in 10 hours or less.
While some public charging stations use Level 2, they might use a lower watt range and still deliver super-slow charging speeds.
Level 3 Charging Station
These are designed for commercial use, so you’ll typically find them in public charging stations or for company fleet use. They use DC charging so they can give you a full charge in an hour or less.
Level 3 chargers are moving to 400v and 800v charging architecture to make a recharge take no more time than filling up at a gas station. They’re impractical for home use, however, due to the amount of power they pull and the $50,000 price tag.
The other thing you have to consider with types of chargers is the kinds of connectors. Only Tesla models use a proprietary charging port, so you should be able to connect most EVs to most chargers. There are adapters available that can let you use a different type of charger.
Most EVs in the US use a CCS port, which can work with Level 3 fast chargers as well as Level 1 and Level 2. With your home EV charger, consider one that supports multiple connectors to ensure any future EV purchases will be able to connect to it.
Installing an EV Charger
The installation process for a charger starts by considering the electrical panel of your home and whether it can support a Level 2 charger. The more power (or amps) the charger can pull, the faster it will charge your car. But if the charger is pulling lots of power, other things in your house might not be able to get enough power to run at the same time.
Most modern electrical panels are rated at 200 amps, and EV chargers are rated at 40-50 amps. You need to have enough left over after the EV charger is plugged in to power everything else in your house. Unless you have an older panel or a ton of appliances, you shouldn’t need to change out your panel to accommodate a charger.
Some chargers can be set to different amperages so you can pull more power at night than during the day. Slower charging is healthier for your battery, so it’s nice to have the option to change up the amount of power it pulls. You can also turn down the power for the charger if you need to pull more power inside like on really hot days.
You need to have a nearby 240v outlet or have one put in near where you park. Many newer homes tend to already have these in the garage to accommodate EVs. The charger can also be hardwired in rather than plugging into an outlet, which allows for faster charging.
Incentives for EV Charger Installation
As with many ecological and sustainability initiatives, you can find rebates and incentives from the government and utility companies to encourage the adoption of green technology. Some large programs exist to aid in building out infrastructure at the commercial level, but there are options for homeowners as well.
Federal Tax Credit
While there are still options for commercial installations, the federal tax incentive for EV charging stations expired at the end of 2021. It offered 30 percent off the cost of a charging station and installation up to $1,000.
There is still a tax credit for anyone purchasing qualified electric vehicles, however.
Many utility companies servicing the Michigan area offer rebates on the purchase and installation of home chargers. Some require you to have bought or leased a PEV or enroll in a specific rate plan. You can search by zip code to see what might be offered in your area.
If you live in Michigan, among your options are the following:
- Up to $500 rebate on qualified Level 2 charger
- Special nighttime savers rate
- Up to $500 rebate on qualified Level 2 charger
- Must buy or lease a vehicle and enroll in PEV charging rates
- Up to $1000 rebate for purchase and installation of Level 2 charger
- Must buy or lease a plug-in electric vehicle as well
Indiana Michigan Power
- Special time-of-use rate for owners of PEV
- Can get $500 when you enroll
City of Holland Board of Public Works
- Up to $300 rebate for Level 2 charger
- Must enroll in time-of-use rate plan for one year
Pondering a Home EV Charger?
If you’ve made the jump to an electric vehicle, it makes sense to add a charger to your garage so you can charge it at home. The EV charger installation process starts by ensuring your electrical panel can handle the extra draw and choosing a charger that works for your car. Rebates, incentives, and special electric rates help offset some of the costs of the installation and EV charging.
Looking for quality EV charger installers near you? Give us a little information about your particular setup, and get a quote to see how affordable installation can be.