EV Charging at Home: 101

So you’ve just purchased an electric vehicle, or you’re thinking about it.
And now you’re wondering how you are going to charge it!

Sure, there’s plenty of public EV charging stations around town, and setting up an account for those is easy; you just pay a small fee per use. Or maybe there’s a DC super charger location somewhere along your regular commute, those things provide crazy fast charging. But let’s be honest, the ability to charge your EV from home is what it’s all about. Plugging into your own charging station at home and knowing the next time you drive away the batteries will be fully charged is a simple joy only an EV owner can appreciate. 

In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about EV charging, the different EV charging stations available, and how to have the best charging experience.

Level 1 Charging

Your EV can draw power from any regular outlet, like the ones for charging your phone or running the vacuum. And you probably have one of those plugs in the garage already. That’s considered Level 1 charging. But the charge rate – think: speed of charging – from those is tiny and it will take many, many hours to top up your vehicle’s batteries. And pretty simply, the higher the charge on the batteries the more range you’ll get on the road.

Level 2 Charging

The real deal at home is Level 2 charging. (Those DC super-duper chargers I mentioned earlier are Level 3, but you won’t get that at home.) Level 2 essentially means it’s 240 volts, whereas those general outlets around the house are 120 volts. So right away Level 2 is double the voltage. If you need a fast charging solution at home, plug into a level 2 charging station.

The sweet spot for EV charging is around 30 or 40 amps, which is like the power available for your clothes drier or kitchen oven. It’s easy to see the difference now between that old outlet and a circuit like your oven: one can cook a turkey… that’s the one you want charging your electric vehicle!

Important to note: smaller electric vehicles may get sufficient charging from a 20 amp level 2 circuit, or even that 120 volt plug. If you drive very infrequently or only a limited distance between charging this may be all you need.

How to Determine If you Need a Level 1 or Level 2 EV Charger

Consider the following when determining if you need a level 1 or level 2 EV charger:

  • The length of charging session that you’ll need (speed)
  • If you intend to charge more than one electric vehicle now or in the future (capacity)

Electric Vehicle Chargers vs Outlets

Now you know the basics and you’re excited to get a level 2 charger. Or do you want an outlet? Most electric vehicles will ship from the manufacturer with a cord that can be connected to a 14-50 outlet, which is like the plug for your kitchen oven. So which one is best for you: a charger or an outlet?

Level 2 outlets (of any amperage: 20A, 30A, 40A, etc) are just what you’d expect: a receptacle that accepts a cord with a plug end. Sometimes an adapter is needed to match the configuration of the outlet, but generally that’s all there is to it. You can leave the cord plugged in while not connected to the vehicle, but a lot of drivers will take their cord in the vehicle in case they need to plug in while away from home.

Level 2 chargers are devices that have a permanently connected cord, ready when you pull up to plug into your EV. (Much like when you fill your gas car at the pump, you don’t bring your own hose to the gas station!) Different models may have additional features such as network capabilities, an app to connect your smartphone, load sharing/expandability, cord management, and most, if not all, are rated to be installed outdoors. A charger is not required to charge an electric vehicle, but it can create a better experience.

One last thing in terms of connection, is the configuration of the socket on the vehicle itself. The standard type used by most manufacturers is called J-1772. Unless you have a Tesla, which has its own spacial configuration.

Consult a Licensed Electrician

When you’re ready to get the wheels turning so to speak, the next step is to consult an electrician with plenty of experience in EV charging stations. There is a lot that goes into safely planning your home charging station and ensuring everything meets code. 

In a perfect world your breaker panel is in the garage, with lots of available capacity, and it’s right beside where you want the charger. But if not don’t stress! Even if your panel is maxed out, or the garage is detached from the house, there’s lots of ways to make home charging work for you. It’s even possible to share a circuit like your drier and toggle between the two.

Our team are leading experts on electric vehicle charging stations. Consult with one of our certified electricians to learn more about electric vehicle chargers today.

Looking Down the Road

Armed with all this knowledge for charging your electric vechile at home, don’t forget to look at what the road ahead may hold. It’s inevitable that EV’s (and ZEV’s in general – zero emission vehicles) will replace gas-powered vehicles at some point. Adoption of electric vehicles is already strong and steadily increasing. If you’re replacing one gas vehicle now with an EV, your next one will surely be an EV as well. Factors like this may influence whether you install a charger versus an outlet, or what size circuit you’ll need.

EV Charging Station Rebates

If you’re ready to purchase an electric vehicle or install an EV charging station, there are often rebate programs available to help offset new vehicle purchases and home charger installation costs. Check out these resources to learn more:

Start Driving on Electricity

Hopefully this crash course on EV charging helps steer you in the right direction. If you have any questions or need assistance, give Cove Power a call. We’re happy to provide a free consultation and work with you to design your home charging installation.

Owning an EV already makes a lot of sense compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. And electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is easier to add to your home or building than you might think. If you’re ready for an electric vehicle we will make sure you can charge it.

We can install chargers for any make and model of EV. And we know our stuff. Call us for all your electric vehicle charging needs.

  • Home charging stations
  • Workplace charging stations
  • Dedicated circuits
  • System design
  • Power upgrades
  • Load sharing and management
  • Consultation