What You’ll Need To Do At Your Home if You Purchase an EV
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining in popularity as new and compelling models come into the marketplace. Greater efficiency, fewer emissions, and fun to drive are just some of their attractive qualities. Not having to pump gas, however, is likely the best part about owning an electric car.
If you are looking to purchase an EV, there are some changes you’ll need to make at your home to make charging easier and more efficient.
What type of outlet will I need?
Your EV should come with a standard 120-volt charging cable which will fit into a standard wall outlet. One end of the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) fits into your car’s charging port and the other into a grounded plug like the one most other electronic items use in your home. A typical EVSE is 16-18 feet.
If you need a longer cord, you’ll have to purchase one. The longest available cord length that meets industry safety standards is 25 feet.
Level 1 Charging
A 120-volt outlet provides Level 1 charging and offers 3-4 miles of range per hour. If you have a Tesla which has a 300 mile range on a full charge, it would take you 80-100 hours to fully charge your battery engine from an empty state. That’s pretty slow, but hopefully your car engine won’t get to a zero charge, and if you aren’t driving long distances each day, a Level 1 charge should suffice. If you have a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle with a 53 mile electric range, you could fully charge it in 13-14 hours.
Upgrade Your Outlet for a Faster Charge
Most EV owners opt to have a Level 2 charger installed. This is a simple step if your electrical box is set to accept a 240-volt outlet. A Chevy Volt can charge in as little as 2 ½ hours, and you can add 44 miles of range per hour with your Tesla.
The more cost effective choice is to install a 240-volt outlet and purchase a separate 240-volt charger to plug into it. The other alternative is to have a 240-volt charger installed, which is a more complicated set-up. You can expect to pay between $300-$1000 for the installation, depending on the location of the outlet and your electrical box capacity.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment comes in many forms. Some are portable units you can store in the trunk of your car. They resemble an extension cord with a box at one end. Others are full-scale charging stations with digital displays, mobile app support, and Wi-Fi capability. These can be hardwired or plugged in.
Available through Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon, and most auto supply stores, it is best to do your homework and make sure you are getting a unit authorized for use with your car and from a reputable manufacturer. Your auto dealership should have more information as well.
Locating your Outlet/Charger
A garage is the ideal location for a charger or outlet installation. Whether you drive in or back in to park will determine where the charger should go. You want to make sure your cord is long enough to reach the charge port on your car. Knowing where the port is located on your car prior to installation is also key as it varies by model.
If you don’t have a garage, be sure the charger/outlet is in a protected location according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Some devices are made to weather a storm, and some are not.
Always Plan Ahead
Just as you would check your gas reading before heading out, you will need to do the same with your EV, and perhaps even more so. Charging stations are not as ubiquitous as gas stations, and “filling up” your battery takes longer than pumping a tank of gas. EV owners often say that you only need to run out of juice once when away from home to have it drilled home that having more power than what you think you’ll need goes a long way to feeling relaxed as you are out and about.
When to Charge
It is a good rule of thumb to keep your car fully charged as often as you can as you never know if you’ll have an emergency that will require a quick departure. With that said, some localities have higher electricity rates at different times of the day. Overnight and weekend rates are often less expensive, as well as early in the morning before schools and businesses open.
Solar Charging Options
If limiting your carbon footprint is the reason you purchased an EV, you may want to consider solar to charge your car, but it will not pay for itself for quite some time. A system with a battery backup would be best, but shop around for your options. If you already have solar at your home, an inverter may be needed to charge your car. You can learn more about these options by visiting sites like solaredge.com and vivintsolar.com.
Do Some More Homework
There are tax advantages to purchasing an EV in addition to the savings on gas and to the environment. Google hybrid and electric car rankings, reasons why and why not to purchase an EV, and the location of charging stations in your area.
Driving an EV can be a fun and rewarding owner experience. Setting up your home to accommodate correctly at the start will make it all the better.
Source: U.S. News, Bosch EV Solutions, Clipper Creek