Do I Need Special Equipment to Charge an Electric Car?

Can you charge an electric car at home without special equipment additions? Electric vehicle (EV) newbies get a lot of terminology thrown at them: How slow/fast EVs can charge, how cheap/expensive it can be to charge, and how simple/complicated EV charging setups can be. While it’s not rocket science, there is a bit of basic information and a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind when puzzling out your charging setup.

Tips for Charging an Electric Car at Home

Most electric cars available to consumers can be charged from a standard 120-volt wall socket. Charging this way is typically referred to as ‘Level 1’ charging. But for practical use of the vehicle, this takes a long time and sometimes cannot keep up with car usage. To overcome this, a homeowner can install a 220V or ‘Level 2’ charging station – or a rapid charging station specific to their make and model.

How Do You ‘Plug In’ an Electric Vehicle?

It may surprise you to know EV chargers are found on-board the vehicle. The charger is not the thing hanging on the wall, but the equipment encased in the car that converts AC power from your house to DC to recharge the car’s battery pack. The box, cord, and plug that mount to the wall of your home and supply electricity to your car is actually called Electric Vehicle Service Equipment or EVSE (though almost everyone refers to it as the ‘charger’). Though you can technically charge your car using a standard 120-volt outlet, you’ll probably want to install an EVSE in your home.

An EVSE Makes Charging ‘EZ’

Supplying 240-volts of electricity, adding an EVSE can cut your charging time in half, as well as allow you to better take advantage of ‘time-of-day’ or off-peak discounts from your electric company. Varying by season/time-of-day, electric companies charge less for power during times of lower demand. This in turn lowers your energy bills, per-mile driving costs, and reduces your environmental impact. When connected to an electric vehicle, an EVSE can…

  • Turn on/off electricity supply to the car safely.
  • Report the amount of available electricity.
  • Check to ensure there are no electrical problems.
  • In some models, schedule charging based on available time-of-day electricity service discounts.
  • Provide usage reports.

Features to Look for in an EVSE

Features to look for include:

  • 30-Amp Service
    This offers the capacity to add 30-miles of range in about an hour. If your current EV can’t take full advantage of this faster rate, and currently accepts only 16-amp level charging, that’s okay – you don’t want to have to upgrade your EVSE later when you buy a new EV with a faster on-board charger.
  • Appropriately Sized Charging Cable
    Most run from 15-25 feet. If this is not enough for you to easily reach your vehicle, you may want to rethink the convenience of your EVSE location.
  • Connectivity
    Wi-Fi enabled EVSE’s with touchscreens cost more, but offer remotely controllable features for metering, monitoring, and changing charging events (some of which may already be controllable form your car or other mobile apps).

Popular EVSE Models Include:

  • Affordable and Full-Functioned
    Siemens VersiCharge VC30GRYU 
  • Nearly Indestructible
    ClipperCreek HCS-40
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
    JuiceBox Pro 40
  • Best for Your Cold Weather Car Toolkit
    AeroVironment’s TurboCord

Can I Install an EVSE Myself?

Professional installation from a licensed, trained Mr. Electric electrician is recommended for the safety of your home, family, and car. Cost ranges from a few hundred dollars for simple installations nearby an electrical box, to a couple thousand when an electrical service upgrade is necessary. However, this is a drop in the bucket compared to the value of your car, home and family.

Need help preparing for the newest addition to your family? Ensure a seamless transition from a gas to electric automobile with the help of Mr. Electric today.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.

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