Today’s electric vehicles require a different charging approach than gasoline-powered cars. Most EVs have smaller batteries that need to be charged more frequently, but they also have software and monitoring systems that monitor the state of charge and voltage in real time. Depending on the type of electrical service at your home, you may need to upgrade your electrical system before charging an EV there. To make sure your home is prepared for this new kind of car, here are six things you should consider when setting up an EV charging station in your home.
Know Your Electrical Service
Your electrical service has some bearing on where you can install your EV charging station. First, let’s talk about amperage. EVs draw electricity from your home’s electrical panel and distribute it from there to the car.
The ampacity of your electrical service is the maximum amount of current that can safely pass through it. This is important to know because if your service is only 10 or 15 amps, an EV can draw enough current to trip a breaker on a 15-amp circuit. If you have a 40-amp service, a 15-amp breaker is sufficient. If you have a 100-amp service, a 15-amp EV charger may trip your panel.
Your electrical service is also relevant for the type of wiring at your home. Most homes in the U.S. have a 100-amp service and utilize a type of wiring called two-wire, 120/240-volt, single-phase service. As a result, you must understand how to improve energy efficiency.
There are two sets of wires in this service—a black and a red wire. Both of these wires carry 120 volts of current, but the red wire also carries 240 volts of current. You can use both the 120 volts and the 240 volts, but you can’t have both on at the same time. This wiring will work fine for charging a Tesla or other 240-volt EV. If you have a plug-in hybrid EV, you’ll probably need to upgrade your service panel and wiring.
EV Charging Station And Infrastructure Requirements
The first step in choosing the right EV charging station for your home is to select the right plug-in level. The most common EV charging stations include level 1 and level 2 charging equipment.
Level 1 charging uses a standard household outlet, while level 2 charging requires a special charging station. In the U.S., most level 2 charging stations are 240 volts, so they require the installation of some type of electrical service upgrade. Level 1 charging is only a trickle charge, so it takes a long time to bring the battery up to a full charge.
There are two types of level 1 charging equipment: Hard-wired and plug-in. With the hard-wired variety, an electrician installs a charging station and connects it directly to the car’s built-in charging port.
The plug-in variety is essentially a portable charging station where you plug your car in like you would a household appliance. The plug-in stations typically offer a quick charge and are a handy option for the workplace.
Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) Installation
Once you’ve determined the type of charging station you need, you’ll need to install the equipment. Your EV charging station will come with installation instructions, but here are a few general things to consider. Make sure you have the right circuit. Level 2 charging stations require a 40-amp circuit; so, if your circuit is 15 amps, you’ll need to upgrade it.
You can do this by installing a 20-amp breaker and installing a 40-amp breaker-switching circuit. This means the circuit can switch between the two breakers depending on the equipment you are using. Install a dedicated circuit.
A dedicated circuit means the circuit only supplies power to the charging station. This is important to keep the voltage consistent for the charging station. You don’t want other equipment on the same line to trip the circuit if the charger pulls too much power.
Converting A 220V Outlet To Charge An EV
The most common option for installing a charging station is to upgrade your electrical service and install a new outlet to supply the 240-volt power. If you do this, you can use any standard 240-volt outlet, but you should be careful to match the amperage. Most charging stations require a 40-amp outlet.
If you are installing a new outlet inside, make sure the wires are accessible. You’ll need to access the wires, break them, and create a new circuit to supply power to the charging station. You can use a special device to do this, or you can pull the wires out and splice them together with a tool like a circuit breaker/combination tool.
Installing A New Level 2 Charger
If your home doesn’t have the right kind of circuit or outlet installed, you may be able to install a new level 2 charger. There are two types of level 2 charging stations: Wall-mounted and pedestal. Wall-mounted stations are mounted directly to the wall and are appropriate for new construction.
Pedestal charging stations can be installed in existing homes and are usually mounted on top of a surface like a table or a countertop. Before purchasing a level 2 charger, be sure your electrical service can handle the extra power draw. Most charge stations require a 40-amp circuit. Here are a few other things to consider when selecting a level 2 charging station:
- What is the power rating of the charging station? You want to make sure the station doesn’t put a strain on the circuit. Most stations have a maximum power rating of 16 amps.
- What type of charging connector does the station use? The most common connectors are either SAE J1772 or CCS.
- Is the station portable? Some stations are designed to be mounted on a wall or table, and others are designed to be portable. This is important if you plan to travel in your car.
Summing It Up
An electric vehicle is a type of car that uses an electric motor to move. The electricity to power the motor comes from a battery that has been charged by being plugged into an electrical outlet. Installing an electric vehicle charging station at home can be a good decision if you own an electric car. Before doing so, it is important to make sure your home’s electrical wiring can handle the extra power. You should also make sure your car’s charging system can handle a higher voltage since it will be plugged into a 240-volt outlet. With the right planning and installation, you can have a charging station ready for your next plug-in car.