A green revolution is taking place, and you will assure yourself a front row seat with your brand new Plug-in Electric Vehicle (EV). You’ve taken the big step to saving money and going green, minimizing your impact on our ecosystem and reducing energy consumption. Now all that is left is to begin driving, saving money, and enjoying the ride.
Just like your rechargeable cell phone, tablet, and laptop computer, before you can enjoy the benefits of your electric vehicle, you will need to charge it up. Supplying this charge by means of Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (charging station) is easy. Although they are not necessary, if you have an electric vehicle, you may want the convenience of having one installed in your own home.
A quick technical introduction to your electric vehicle reveals some cool features. It may be surprising to learn that, unlike your handheld devises, an electric car’s charger is actually built in to the vehicle, converting the AC source of electricity from your house to DC.
Choosing the best charging station for your home requires taking into consideration the differences, requirements, and benefits to each one, along with some ‘recommendations’ to keep in mind as you shop for the one that fits your needs.
After going green to save green, the cost of a home charging station will be of considerable importance. The general opinion among electric vehicle drivers is that a reliable and durable unit will cost on average $350 to $700. Installation costs will vary depending on charging station location and your electrician’s fees.
Amperage Now and Beyond
How much power will you need? You will need a charging station that can handle at least 30 amps. Keep in mind a 30-amp charging station will give you the ability to charge about 30 miles of range in an hour. There are lower-amp units available, but a 15-amp station will give you roughly 15 miles of range in an hour.
It’s important to understand that unlike true electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids don’t take full advantage of your charging station’s charge rate. Still, it is wise to have the capacity to charge at least at the 30-amp level. So when you are ready to upgrade to a newer electric vehicle with a faster on-board charger, you won’t need to buy a new charging station.
Installation Note: With a 30-amp charging station, you will need a circuit breaker rated for at least 40 amps.
Location, Location, Location
Before purchasing your charging station, plan the ideal location for this piece of equipment. Where do you park your electric vehicle? Now measure the distance between where the unit will hang on your wall and the charging port on your car. Cables generally run in 15- and 25-foot sections. A driveway installation may be a great choice if you have family members that will be using your charging station at different times.
Depending on your location choice, an electrician might have to run just a few feet of conduit or dozens of feet altering the installation cost. Be sure to choose convenience of location over cost. You will likely be charging your car every night, so “love your future self” by placing it as conveniently as budget allows.
Portability vs Permanent
The “take it with you” option is something to consider. If possible, have an electrician install a NEMA 14-50 outlet or similar (the same kind of outlets used for appliances such as clothes dryers). Then put a matching plug on a pigtail mounted to your charging station. You can mount your unit right next to the outlet and simply plug it in. If the time comes when you move or decide to relocate your charging station, you can simply take it with you and use another NEMA 14-50 or similar outlet. This installation method and forward thinking costs almost the same as a hard-wire installation and makes the device instantly moveable without additional expense.
High Tech Connectivity
With all the options and upgrades available in different charging station brands, you might feel compelled to buy one with Wi-Fi, touch screens, timers, and web-enabled monitoring. These higher tech products are cool and may be a good option depending upon your individual needs such as tracking electricity usage.
Popular Choices for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Now that you know what you need to consider – location, amperage, portability, and add on options you are ready to pick out the charging station right for you. A quick internet search will provide several different manufacturers and options for you to choose the perfect fit.
When you are ready to install your electric vehicle charging station, you will want to hire a skilled electrician, as they will know the local codes and how to best install your unit. Electric vehicle owners who do not have a skilled and preferred electrician are advised to check with their local trade organizations for recommended installers.
Be sure to keep your receipts for your unit and the installation, as you may qualify for local or state incentives. Save them for anything that can arise if/when selling your electric vehicle-readied home.