If you’re considering the purchase of an electric car, good for you! You're doing your part to reduce the nation's reliance on oil and cut down on fossil fuel emissions, and you get to drive around in style to boot. But with many newer models, you’ll need to set up a charging station in your own home garage. Public charging stations are not widely available, and nothing beats the convenience of having a power source right outside your door. With an electrician's help, you can install a charging station on your property and get your car up to speed quickly. Read on for some tips on how to get started.
Expand Your Range
New, affordable electric cars (those that cost around $30,000) top out at ranges between 60 and 90 miles before they need to be recharged. That doesn't do you much good for a cross-country road trip, but it should be more than enough for the average daily commute. If you can plug it in overnight, you should be good to go the next day.
Technically speaking, the charger for an electric vehicle is found in the car itself, and the box you install to provide the electricity is called the Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). The EVSE puts out 240-volt alternating current, and the charger in the car converts it to direct current to replenish the battery. Note that you can plug into a standard 110 volt outlet for some cars, but it will take 18 hours or more to fully charge them, making it impractical for daily use.
Pick Your Charging Spot
An EVSE can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more, depending on what model you need, plus installation fees. More expensive models have higher amp ratings and can charge the car faster, generally speaking – some can get you ready to go in as little as three hours. The box needs to be placed within 15-25 feet of where you park your car so you can reach it with the charging cable.
Before you start the installation process, have an electrician evaluate the state of your wiring and circuit box – some older homes may not be able to handle charging a car without a significant electrical system upgrade. If everything checks out, the electrician can hardwire the EVSE or, alternatively, install a 240 volt outlet, similar to what you use for an electric oven or clothes dryer. The second option gives you more flexibility to move your charging station in the future, although outdoor installations usually require hardwiring.
The Code of an Electrician
To read up on the specific rules about how the EVSE needs to be installed, check out National Electrical Code Article 625 – your local building code likely has the same or similar regulations. For more help evaluating the suitability of your home for an electric car charging station, contact a local electrician today.