If you own a hybrid or fully electric vehicle, being able to charge your vehicle at home is extremely convenient. It will also save you quite a bit of money compared to having to pay to use public charging stations. If you plan on installing a charging station at your home, it’s essential that you have a licensed, experienced electrician perform the work. Here, we’ll explain all you need to know about the different types of home EV charging and the reasons why having an electrician install your home EV charging is so important.

Understanding the Different Levels of EV Charging

The first thing you should understand is that there are three different levels of EV charging. For Level 1 charging, all you need to do is plug your vehicle into a standard 120-volt outlet. That means you don’t need an electrician if you only want to use Level 1 charging at your home since you can use any standard three-prong outlet in your garage or outside your house. The problem is that Level 1 charging is extremely slow. In most cases, you’ll only get between two and five miles of range for every hour of charging. If you charged your vehicle all night, you’d usually only get around 50 miles of additional range on average. If you wanted to fully charge an almost dead battery, you’d likely need to leave your vehicle plugged in for at least a full day, if not longer.

Level 2 EV charging stations use a dedicated 240-volt circuit that supplies more power and allows a vehicle to charge much more quickly. With a Level 2 station, you can easily ensure that your battery receives a full charge by plugging your vehicle in before going to bed. If your family has two EVs, you can usually even fully charge both of them every day. All it takes is plugging one in when you get home from work and then switching to charge the other before going to sleep.

Level 3 DC fast charging is what you find at many public EV charging stations. This level of charging is extremely fast and usually allows you to get a full charge in under an hour. Unfortunately, Level 3 charging requires far more power than your home’s electrical system can provide. This means your only options for charging your vehicle at home are Level 1 and 2. This actually isn’t a bad thing though since Level 3 charging causes an EV battery to get quite hot. This can eventually lead to it not holding as much of a charge or failing much sooner. That’s why experts recommend never using Level 3 charging more than a few times a month at most or else you’ll likely have to replace your EV battery much sooner.

Why You Need an Electrician to Install a Level 2 EV Charger

Installing a Level 2 charging station at your home is definitely not something you should even consider attempting on your own. One reason is that you will almost always need to have a new 240-volt circuit wired to your electrical panel and run to wherever you plan on installing the charging station. It’s extremely rare for a home to have an unused 240-volt circuit that runs to the garage or outside.

Even on the off chance that you do have an available circuit, you can be almost guaranteed that it doesn’t have the right type of outlet. That means that you’d need to replace the existing outlet with the correct type for the plug on your charging station. Or you would have to remove the outlet and hardwire the charger to the circuit. Doing any type of electrical work such as this on your own is extremely dangerous since it can create a major fire hazard if not done correctly.

Another issue is that you run the risk of destroying the charging station if everything isn’t wired correctly. Should this happen, you’d have to pay to replace the charger yourself. This is because the warranty on any EV charger usually stipulates that it must be installed by a licensed electrician.

Another thing to consider is that most places require you to have an electrical permit when installing a new circuit. Also, the work also has to be inspected by the city or county once completed. Only a licensed electrical contractor can apply and receive the necessary permit to install a Level 2 EV charging station. Installing the charger without a permit can result in a steep fine, and you will usually be required to have all of the work redone by a licensed electrician.

The Importance of Having an Electrical Load Calculation Performed

Another reason why it’s necessary to hire an electrician to install a home EV charging station is that you will need to first have an electrical load calculation performed. The purpose of this calculation is to determine if your electrical panel can supply sufficient power to support the charging station and everything else it needs to power in your home. Specifically, you need to ensure that the amperage of the panel is high enough.

If you try to install an EV charging station and your panel doesn’t have sufficient amperage to support it, you’ll have lots of issues any time your vehicle is charging. Without sufficient amperage, the charger will end up using much of the available power. That means there will be less power available for the other circuits and you’ll end up with issues like your lights and TVs flickering. That said, the bigger issue is there is a major risk of the electrical panel overheating and potentially starting a fire if it doesn’t have enough amps to support your charger.

An electrical load calculation involves adding up the wattage and amperage of all of the electrical devices and appliances in the home. Performing this type of calculation is fairly complicated since not everything counts equally. The reason we say that is that it is highly unlikely that all of your appliances and everything else in the house would be on at the same time. That means that the panel doesn’t actually need to have enough amps to support everything at once. This is why electricians use a special formula to determine the specific real-world power needs of your home. This then enables them to determine whether your electrical panel is large enough or if you need to upgrade to a higher-amp panel.

The electrical panel in many homes is only 100 amps, which is the minimum required by the National Electric Code. The problem is that a 100-amp panel generally isn’t sufficient to support an EV charging station. This is the case if the home has more than one or two other 240-volt appliances like an air conditioner, heat pump, electric water heater or any type of electric heating.

If your current electrical panel is only 100 amps, you will usually need to replace it with a 150- or 200-amp panel before you can install an EV charger. In this case, you’ll absolutely need to hire an electrician to ensure that the new panel is installed correctly and everything is wired properly and safely. Replacing an electrical panel requires having the power company temporarily shut off the electricity to the home, which is also something that only an electrician can request to have done.

Your Trusted Electrical Professionals

With more than a decade of experience, Potts Electric is the company to turn to for EV charging installation. We serve residential and commercial customers in Ellisville and the St. Louis Metro area, and our team is ready to handle all of your electrical repair and installation needs. For more information on your options for commercial and residential electrical services, contact us today.

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