7 Things to Know About Charging Your EV at Home

7 Things to Know About Charging Your EV at Home

With charging stations for electric vehicles popping up all over the place, where is the best place to charge your vehicle?

For most people, the best place to charge up is at home. After all, it’s the one place your car is almost always parked for hours at a time.

If you have an electric vehicle, you probably have portable equipment that will let you charge your car’s battery by plugging it into a standard outlet. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

But if you’ve ever charged your car at a public charging station, you might be wondering if you can get some of that charging speed from a home system.

First, you should know that you’re technically not looking for a charger; the charger is built into your electric vehicle. What you need in your garage is an EVSE, which stands for Electronic Vehicle Supply Equipment—in other words, the power supply for your car’s charger.

The good news is that you can get a faster charging system for your home, and there are several reasons to take advantage of this capability.

1. Charging your Electric Vehicle at Home Is Convenient.

Charging your Electric Vehicle at Home Is Convenient.

The first (and most obvious) reason to install an EVSE at home is that it’s really, really convenient. Unless you are travelling, you will probably park your car in the same place for several hours every night. That makes it very easy to charge your car as part of your regular routine.

While more public chargers are added every day, there are also more people buying electric vehicles, and that means you may not always get a spot. And even if you do, there is no guarantee that it will work; public chargers are sometimes out of order.

When you have your own charging station at home, though, you can just come home, pull into the garage, and plug in your car. By the time you leave in the morning it will be fully charged.

2. EVSEs Charge your Electric Car Quickly.

EVSEs Charge your Electric Car Quickly.

There are three different levels of charging for electric vehicles. Level 3 is the fastest. Unfortunately, you can’t get that level of charging at home. For a Level 3 charge, which can give you anywhere from 3 to 20 miles every minute, you’ll need to go to a public charging station. Level 3 chargers include DC Fast Charge and Tesla’s Supercharging.

Could you install a Level 3 charger if you really wanted to? Unlikely. Not only are the equipment and installation prohibitively expensive, but you need a high-voltage power supply.

At the other end of the scale is Level 1 charging. This level uses your standard wall outlet, but you only get around 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging.

The happy medium for most EV owners is a Level 2 charging system. While it’s not as lightning fast as a public charging station, it can replenish your battery as much as ten times faster than your standard outlet. In other words, even if your battery is nearly dead, your Level 2 charging system will have your car ready to go in the morning.

3. You can get a full charge every night.

You can get a full charge every night.

If you rely on public charging stations, you may find yourself walking laps around the grocery store waiting for your battery to be fully charged. Or you may just get a partial charge and find your battery low again after a few more errands.

When you have a charging system at home, you won’t have to stand around waiting for your car to be ready to go. Better yet, you won’t have to plan your schedule around trips to public charging stations.

Instead, you can plug in your car when you get home and go about your normal routine. By the time you’re ready to leave the house again, you should be fully charged and ready to go.

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4. You might get a tax break for your EV charger.

You might get a tax break for your EV charger.

Because electric vehicles contribute to the public good by creating less pollution, some governments have decided to incentivize their use. Part of that incentive program in some places is a tax break for installing an EV charging station in your home.

In the US, as of the 2021 tax year, you can get a federal tax credit that will cover 30% of your EV charging system—both the equipment itself and the installation—up to $1,000.

Another potential incentive for installing your own charging station is that you may be eligible for a rebate. Some of these rebates come from utility companies—there are over 30 of them in the United States and Canada alone that will give you money back for your purchase. You can search for rebates using the EV Rebate Checker website.

5. Good home charging systems are designed with safety in mind.

Good home charging systems are designed with safety in mind.

Where there is electricity, there is risk—risk of fire and electric shock. A good charging system takes a potentially very dangerous resource and makes its use as safe and accident-proof as possible.

That said, it is important to make sure the particular equipment you select has been rigorously tested for safety. One thing to check is whether the device has a mark from a nationally recognized testing laboratory. In the U.S., these labs include Intertek (which uses an ETL mark on certified products) and Underwriter’s Laboratory (which uses a UL mark on certified products).

One safety feature in an EVSE is the in-cable control box (ICCB). It is located between the vehicle connector and the power source, and its job is to manage communication between the vehicle and the outlet. It can prevent the voltage and current from being either too high or too low.

Another safety feature is ground monitoring. Grounding is part of the electric circuitry that lets the device safely discharge any excess electricity. Ground monitoring makes sure that grounding is always available, and it can shut off the system if that safeguard is no longer in place.

Temperature protection is another important safety feature. It ensures that the equipment will shut off if it is at risk of becoming damaged by heat—for example, by melting.

6. You can have your charging station installed for you.

You can have your charging station installed for you.

If you are intimidated by the prospect of installing an EVSE, don’t worry. It’s not a DIY job, so you don’t need to be skilled—you just have to hire someone who is.

Luckily, there are plenty of qualified professionals who can install your EV charging station.

Hard wiring an EV charging station requires a trained electrician to fit a higher-voltage outlet (240 volts in the U.S.). So where can you find one?

One place to start is with your utility company. They may be able to point you toward an installer. They may also offer a rental program or even a rebate.

You can also check with local electricians. Make sure to ask plenty of questions, like how many similar installations they have done, whether they have preferred equipment, and whether they benefit from recommending certain brands.

A qualified installer will also look at the age of your home and electrical system, its condition, and how much of a load you already have on your electrical panel. You may need to upgrade some of your existing system to make sure it can handle the added load.

Your installer will also probably need to get a permit to do the work. Make sure you choose someone who won’t cut corners.

7. You have a lot of options for equipment.

You have a lot of options for equipment.

Today, there are many different EVSEs available on the market. That means you should be able to find one with the features you want and need.

If you opt for a wall-mounted Level 2 charger, one thing you’ll have to decide is whether you want to carry the cable in your car (in which case you can get by with a tidier-looking wall unit) or select a charger with an attached cable (which may be more convenient).

You’ll also have to decide how powerful a unit you want to buy. This is most often measured in kilowatts, and a home unit may go up to about 22kW. More powerful charging stations tend to cost more, but they charge your battery faster. They may also be a better investment if think you might buy another electric car in the future, because newer cars may be able to accept electricity faster than your current car.

Then there are the extra features. Do you want your charger to connect to your Wi-Fi network so you can use your smartphone to control it? Do you want to be able to ask Alexa to start and stop charging?

Finally, you’ll want to consider the aesthetics of the charging unit and the price.

Once you’ve invested in an electric vehicle, you’re likely to find it worthwhile to spend a little bit more so you can have a powerful charging station at home. It’s a convenient way to make sure you never end up with a dead battery in the morning.

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