You Might Need an Electrician to Install a Home EV Charger – CNET

Bringing home your first electric vehicle can be exciting, but it’s also a major lifestyle adjustment. Your biggest question is probably, Where and how am I going to charge it?

If you’re looking to install your own EV charger at home, you may be wondering how. 

Depending on what type of vehicle you have, what kind of charger you want, and how fast you want to charge, you have a lot of options. Some of those choices are as easy as plugging in any appliance, but some of the faster charging options will require the help of an electrician.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting the right EV charger installed.

What kind of EV charger do you need?

First things first: Figure out how much you’ll be driving your EV, and how quickly you’ll need to recharge at home. How long is your commute? Will you be returning home each night with the EV battery drained, or only 30% depleted?

“If you drive a lot, overnight you might need to get a full charge on a vehicle,” said Kristin Larson, CEO at Southwest Industrial Electric, a Los Angeles electrical contractor.

Answering these questions helps you decide whether a Level 1 or Level 2 charger is right for you.

  • A Level 1 charger is a standard plug that can go into any outlet in your home. This can give your vehicle about 5 miles of range per hour of charge, although that figure depends on your charger, your vehicle, and a lot of other factors.

  • A Level 2 charger offers a much faster charging output, offering about 25 miles of range per hour of charging. That could potentially charge the battery from 0 to 100% overnight.

If your daily driving needs are under 20 miles (or if you have a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), you could probably do just fine with a Level 1 charger, Larson said, but for anything more than that, you might want to consider a Level 2 charger.

As far as brands go, there are lots of options for the actual charger you might buy. Larson said they all work mostly the same, but offer different prices and aesthetics. 

Do you need an electrician to install an EV charger?

If you choose a Level 1 charger, you most likely don’t need an electrician. You can simply buy the right charging cord for your vehicle and plug it into the nearest wall outlet.

For a Level 2 charger, you’ll most likely want to call a professional, Larson said. The one exception is if you already have a special 240-volt outlet (the kind usually used for stoves or dryers) in your garage, and can simply plug a Level 2 charger into that.

But otherwise, if you’re installing a Level 2 charger from scratch, it’s best to hire an electrician, Larson advised. 

What are the steps to getting an EV charger installed?

If you need an electrician for your charging setup, you’ll want to start by calling one (or a few) to give you a free installation estimate.

“Most electricians at this point do [it], it’s not difficult work at all,” Larson said.

The electrician will come to your home and assess your electrical panel. This will determine how much electricity your home has available for EV charging, and to some extent can determine what kind of charger you’re able to install, Larson said.

Once you understand what type of charger is right for your home, the electrician will also help you decide how and where to install it. Keep in mind that the farther away the charger is from your electrical panel, the more expensive the installation will be, Larson said.

Finally, you can give the electrician the green light and get your charger installed.

How much does it cost to install an EV charger?

This depends on what type of charger you buy, and who you hire to install it.

Larson said the average electrician will charge about $100 an hour for labor, and it will take 3 to 4 hours. That means you should budget about $400 for the installation. For the Level 2 charging device itself, the cost is typically $400 to $600, depending on the brand. That’s a total installation cost of about $1,000.

Sometimes, your existing electrical panel can’t handle the addition of a charger at all. In that case, you might need to spend a few thousand dollars upgrading your electrical panel before you can install a charger, Larson said.

So before you even buy an EV, it’s a good idea to have an electrician come give you an estimate, so you know what you’re getting yourself into — and if it’ll end up being a bigger project than you expect.

Leave a Reply