December 1, 2023
So, you’re excited to get a new EV or plug-in hybrid but have questions about home charging.
Let’s walk through what to expect. Once you have your level 2 charging system where you park your car you need to feed it some power. And, that usually comes from the electric service panel also known as the fuse box or breaker box. If found in the garage an electrician can connect a circuit to your level two charger using some wiring and conduit, that’s the pipe the wire passes through, and you can be looking at an installation cost of only a few hundred bucks, excluding the charger itself.
However, sometimes the service panel is farther away, possibly in a basement which could mean a longer run.
But what if the house is this far away? You’ll likely need longer probably thicker wire and more conduit which can increase the cost. The same electrician might be able to trench the ground and bury the conduit satisfactorily, but you may need an additional contractor to do this.
What if instead of dirt or a lawn there’s a concrete pad between the service panel and charging location? It might need to be cut or broken out, and repaired after the circuit is laid. That might mean a different contractor.
Wait a minute, who’s this? Oh, that’s the condo association. Remember to check with your HOA or local association before starting installation. We’ve learned it’s best if another resident has already blazed the EV Charging Trail for you.
One of the frustrating aspects of installations is that houses seldom cooperate.
For example, the service panel might be in a convenient place. But if it’s on the opposite end of the house the circuit might need to be routed through a wall or two, which could require some cleanup work as well.
One more thing to be aware of is that your home receives a certain amount of current from the electric utility, typically 100 or 200 amps. And, level 2 charger systems draw between 12 and 80 amps, though today 32, 40, and 48 amps are most likely.
And just so you don’t get confused the circuit breaker rating is always higher than the charger rating. A 32 amp charger needs a 40 amp breaker for example. The demand can easily exceed what your house can supply and you might need an upgrade.
You may not have a choice because of this guy– The housing inspector.
We recommend that you do everything above board and get your install permitted as you must in order to receive incentives in many cases.
And, if the inspector says you need an upgrade, you need to do it.
The utility doesn’t typically charge you to go from say 100 to 200 amps because they’re happy to bill you for your future usage. But, the parts and labor involved in replacing a 100 amp service panel with a 200 amp version can easily add $1,000 to an installation that has nothing to do with the circuit that then goes from the panel to the charger.
And, once you make changes to old infrastructure, you have to meet current code and you never know what that might bring.