New EV owners typically have a lot of questions when it comes to charging. If you just bought one, you’re likely already wondering if you can charge it at home, how much it’ll cost, the installation process, and more.
While several factors go into that answer, yes, you can charge your EV at home. However, you’ll need to consider charging speeds, installing a faster EV charger, and if your house is even capable of such a thing. So, here’s what you need to know.
Wait, Do I Really Need a Home EV Charger?
When it comes to charging an electric vehicle at home, it’s all about your wants and needs. No, you don’t necessarily need to buy a dedicated EV charger for your house, but you’ll probably want to for faster charging capabilities.
That’s because almost all electric vehicles come equipped with a basic Level 1 charging cable. This type of charger plugs directly into any standard 120V AC wall outlet around your home or in the garage. This makes ownership incredibly easy and affordable, but it’s extremely slow. You’ll only get around 3–5 miles of range per hour, give or take a few. This means that even after charging overnight for 8 hours, you’ll only get roughly 40 miles of range, which may not be enough for some.
You’ll be all set if you have a short daily commute or can charge at work. Use the Level 1 charger and enjoy it. Obviously, that’s not nearly enough range for some people who have more than a 20-30 mile commute to work or drive frequently. And sure, you can use public chargers that are all over the place (with more appearing by the day), but that’s not ideal either. So, while it’s doable, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a faster charging system at home.
Decide Between Level 1 or Level 2 Home Charging
Level 1 charging isn’t very fast, effective, or efficient, so many EV owners will want to upgrade to a Level 2 (L2) home charger. If you drive a lot, have long commutes, or don’t want to deal with range anxiety, upgrades are required. There are three types, or “levels,” of EV charging available as of this writing: type 1, type 2, and type 3.
Level 1 is the slowest, while L3 can charge an EV battery fully in under an hour. When most owners talk about charging at home, they’re likely using faster L2 charging systems. Whereas L1 only gets you around 3—5 miles (or 1.5—3kW) of range per hour, an L2 system uses a bigger 240V outlet and can deliver anywhere from 20 to 60 miles of range per hour. For example, most electric cars in the United States can achieve a full charge in 6—8 hours on a level 2 charger. Some are faster than that, while others are slower, depending on the car model and charger type.
So, how do you know if your home is capable of using a L2 charger, and how much will one cost? If you have a bigger 240V wall outlet for a dryer, you may have the necessary electrical infrastructure for a L2 charger. Unfortunately, just because you have a 240V outlet in one area doesn’t mean your grid can handle more than one, or there’s one in the garage where you’d typically install one. We recommend consulting with a professional electrician or EV charger installer to determine your options.
You could experience challenges based on your electric panel, its location, or where you want to install your home EV charger. For example, those with an attached garage have better chances than those with a detached garage.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Home Charger?
As mentioned above, using a standard Level 1 charger shouldn’t cost most owners anything. Simply use the included cable and any regular wall outlet. Where things start to get pricey is once you look for faster L2 charging speeds.
Adding a fast Level 2 electric vehicle charger to your home can cost anywhere from $300 to nearly $3,000 or more, depending on each situation. This will vary based on your home, installation requirements and difficulty, not to mention the type of charger you buy. On average, most homeowners can upgrade to faster EV charging for around $1,200.
If you already have the necessary wiring, electric panel, and systems for a larger 240V AC wall plug, a professional can easily and quickly install a faster L2 charger in your garage. That said, if additional wiring is required, costs will go up. You may end up buying more expensive chargers with a longer cable to reach your vehicle, labor costs, renovating aspects of the garage, and more.
Keep in mind that some states or cities offer incentives that may help offset these costs, but that’ll depend on various other factors you’ll need to investigate yourself or talk over with a sales and installation representative. And finally, yes, you can technically go all-out and install a Level 3 DC fast charging system, but pricing skyrockets for such a setup. I’m talking about $15,000 to over $30,000.
Some Homes Aren’t EV Ready
Unfortunately, some potential owners won’t be able to install an EV charger in their homes. For example, if you only have street parking, use a detached garage that doesn’t have power, or have an older and outdated house. And while it’s not impossible in these situations, expect significantly higher costs. Having to redo entire electrical systems or run high-voltage lines to another area of your property won’t come cheap. You could also experience issues if your electrical panel isn’t in an ideal and easily reachable location.
Then, even if you can easily reach your garage and its electrical panel, not all homes can distribute another 240V line of output power or have extra breakers to install a charger. If so, you’ll likely need to replace the entire panel, which is another expensive cost.
In the United States, many fast Level 2 EV home chargers come with a lengthy 20ft charging cable, if not longer. You should be fine if you can park the vehicle within that distance and still have access to an available 240V outlet or have a modern home. From there, buy a charger, get it professionally installed, and enjoy the faster charging speeds. It’ll be worth it.