You’ve decided to buy your first fully electric vehicle (EV). But before you bring that technological wonder home, you must understand the charging process and the choices available to you. Here’s our tutorial.
How much do you drive your EV each day?
There are three classes of charging capacity: Level One, Level Two and Level Three. The number of miles you drive each day will determine which level is right for you. Level Two is recommended in most cases.
Level One charging
A Level One EV charger is a cord with the vehicle plug on one end and a household 120-volt three-prong plug at the other. It works in any household outlet without needing a separate charger box. However, Level One charging is very slow. It gives your vehicle battery only three to five miles of charge per hour, so charging all night long will only yield a few dozen miles of range for your car.
You can get by with Level One charging if you drive only short distances daily. But even then, you will occasionally need a faster charge, and the Level One charger will frustrate that need.
For a faster charge, you need a Level Two charger. You can keep a Level One cord in the trunk as a backup if you are away from home and need a charge where no other charger is available.
Level Two charging
Level Two capacity requires a charger box. The charger box can be portable or wall mounted. The box needs a 240-volt and 40-ampere wall receptacle, the same as you’d need for an electric range or dryer. You can also have a charger box hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Level Two charging requires its own wiring and circuit breaker switch in the electrical panel. An experienced electrician should install it.
Level Two charging is a significant upgrade in capacity, delivering 25 to 30 miles of charge per hour. In addition, it can fully recharge a nearly depleted battery overnight to 300 miles.
Level Three charging
Level Three charging is commercial grade and not for home usage. Chargers at some commercial parking lots are Level Three.
Electric vehicle charger features
You can choose a simple charging unit or one that is Wi-fi enabled and communicates the status to your phone. Chargers also allow you to set a time for charging to start. For example, if your utility provider offers lower kilowatt rates for usage during non-peak times, you can set the unit to begin charging during that period.
The electrician will evaluate your home’s current amp capacity to add a 40 amp wall receptacle for the charger. Most residences have 100 to 200 amp service. The electrician will also want to know whether your furnace, oven, water heater and other major appliances use electricity or gas. Electric versions of these items use a lot of amperage. If your total service is less than 200 amps, the electrician may have to upgrade your overall service to avoid tripping breakers.
Cost for Level Two charging
A Level Two charging station costs between $500 to $1,000, depending on the features you select. Having an electrician install an appropriate receptacle and breaker in a house with sufficient amp capacity generally begins around $1,500. Add several thousand more dollars if the house needs a total service upgrade.