Thinking of Installing a Home EV Charging Station? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you’re an electric-vehicle owner, or soon to be one, you can’t beat the convenience of having an EV charging station right there in your garage. OK, great … but how? Well, first you’ll need to purchase a charger, and then you’ll need to hire an electrician to assess your amperage needs and whether your home’s circuit can accommodate it. For owners of newer homes with open space in their electrical panel, this should be simple enough. But if the installation necessitates tricky behind-the-wall work or wire snaking, or if your home is older, the job gets more complicated and, hence, more expensive: A panel upgrade or service upgrade could cost between $1,500 to $3,500.
Read on to learn about what you’ll need to know before charging ahead with your EV charger installation.
Installing an EV Charging Station
Installing a Level 2 charger requires running 240 volts from your home’s circuit breaker panel to the charging point location within your garage or the exterior of your home. That’s where an experienced and licensed electrician is needed. Before you start any wiring, it’s a good idea to have your charging unit selected first. The charger will have an amperage rating (for example, 40-amp or 50-amp chargers are common). This detail will let the electrician know what gauge wire to use in the installation.
A “double-pole” circuit breaker needs to be attached to two 120-volt buses at once to double the circuit voltage to 240 volts. If your breaker box can’t handle this or does not have the space for additional circuit breakers, you may have to replace the circuit panel or box altogether so that you can have a compatible interface.
Once the correct circuit breaker has been attached to your home wiring, then a newly installed large-gauge wire can be run to the panel doors by an electrician who will install an AEP-approved meter socket outdoors near your current meter before running the wiring back to your PEV charger. Once l&M has documentation that a properly installed and inspected PEV charger and meter socket is in place, l&M will then install the sub-meter, activate billing for the discounted, off-peak PEV charging option you've selected, and pay you the $500 incentive.
Does your electric service panel have enough spare capacity?
This is a question best left to a professional to answer. You’ll need a dedicated circuit for the charging station, and your panel will need the room to support this. The electrician has to figure out if the existing system can handle a new, dedicated load from 50-amp circuit while still meeting building code.
The limitations are:
- The panel is too old or out of code.
- The electrical service into the panel isn’t sufficient to handle another 50 amp.
- The panel doesn’t have any more room to add another set of breakers.
Where do you want the charging station installed?
When you’re deciding where you want your station installed, it is important to remember that it should be close to where the inlet for the connector on the car is. The cable on the charger should be long enough to reach the inlet without stretching. Every vehicle has a different location for their charge port, so make sure you know where the charge port is positioned before installing your station.
Plug-in With the Pros
When it comes to the risk and technical difficulty of installing a Level 2 charger, it’s vital that homeowners hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Local building codes often require permits and inspections, and if you make an error with an electrical installation, you could cause major damage to your home and its electrical system. Electrical work is also dangerous, so it’s always better to leave that part to the experts.
A professional installation can cost anywhere from $600 to thousands of dollars depending on the company, the skill and experience of the electrician, the distance from your panel to the charge point, and how complicated your installation is. If you need to change out your entire panel, plan on spending more. Again, the price may seem high, but for your safety, it’s better to let the pros handle it.