When you drive an electric vehicle, you know it’s a hassle relying on public charging stations or a regular wall socket at home (too slow!). Installing a powerful home EV charger is the solution that makes the most sense.
But what does the installation process involve, exactly? To find out, read our answers to the top 10 frequently asked questions about installing an EV charger.
1. What’s the process of installing an EV Charger?
Get a Quote. If you, the customer, are looking for ballpark pricing, we may be able to give you a general idea of cost over the phone. However, we will need to come to your home to provide a firm quote before we go ahead with the charging system installation. (See FAQ#3 for brief overview of relative costs)
Confirm Location. Next, we confirm where we’ll be installing the charger, which is usually in your garage. It’s important for us to find out whether you have an attached or detached garage so we’ll know where to install the wire or conduit.
Choose Charger Type. After that, we discuss what kind of charger you want — Stage 1, 2 or 3. Most homeowners are looking for Stage 2.
Make a Decision about Charger/Receptacle. Finally, you will need to decide whether you want just the 14-50R receptacle installed to give you the option to plug in your corded stage 2 charger yourself or you want the actual EV charger installed as well, whether it’s hardwired or corded.
2. What is the difference between Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging?
Stage 1 is a small 15-amp charger (usually included with the purchase of your electric vehicle), Stage 2 is a 40-amp charger that requires a 50-amp circuit, and Stage 3, also commonly known as DC fast charging, charges through a 480V DC plug, which is more to benefit businesses and commercial areas. A higher amperage allows for more current to flow faster to your electric car. This will reduce charging times significantly (See FAQ#6 for approximate charge times).
3. How much does it cost to buy and install an EV charger?
Costs vary quite a bit. For an attached garage, the EV charger installation cost will run about $700 to $2,200 for the charger itself, plus another $800 for installation. If you have a detached garage with no electrical panel inside, you will most likely need to have a trench dug to get more power out to the garage. That will obviously add to the cost of the install. Another unexpected cost might be upgrading your electrical panel/service to accommodate the increased load safely.
4. Can I install my own EV charger?
We’d advise against it. Someone without electrical knowledge could really get into trouble attempting a do-it-yourself installation. We’ve seen customers make the following dangerous mistakes:
- Unknowingly working on a live circuit or live panel and getting injured
- Pulling the wrong wire
- Hooking the charger up improperly, which can damage the unit
- Not protecting the charger against power surges
Besides all these potential electrical hazards, installing the charger yourself could void the manufacturer’s warranty.
If you really want to save money, we recommend non-electrical work that you can help with, such as digging a trench for a new power line (after having underground service locates done of course!), preparing the area where the charger will be installed or any other tasks that will minimize the amount of time an electrician spends at your house.
5. Are all EV plugs the same?
Most plugs (or nozzles) which are inserted into EV vehicles are the same. All EVs sold in North America use the same standard Level 2 charging plug called a SAE J1772 (IEC Type 1), also known as a J plug . This means that you can charge any electric vehicle at any standard Level 2 charging station in North America. As for level 3 chargers, which use a CHAdeMO connector or a SAE Combo CCS, not every EV can charge at level 3 chargers – you’ll need to check your vehicle specifications The last important connector is the one used by Teslas. That connector is used on level 2 and level 3 Supercharger Tesla charging stations and are only compatible with Tesla cars.
6. How long does it take to charge an electric car at home?
That depends on the type of charging system.
Stage 1 takes about 16 hours
Stage 2, the most popular residential system, takes about 6-8 hours for a full charge, which will give you approximately 300-500 kilometres of driving range (depending upon the vehicle of course – batteries last depending on how big the battery bank is, how powerful your vehicle is and how you’re driving).
Stage 3 can charge up your batteries to 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
7. How long do EV chargers last?
Like all electrical equipment, they don’t last forever. Currently, their lifespan is projected to be 20-30 years.
8. What are some common issues that I can have with my EV charger?
If the load calculation for the house isn’t done correctly, you may find that you continuously trip your main breaker. A Stage 2 charger requires 240 Volts (50 Amps), similar to a stove circuit. The load calculation is based upon the number of large electrical appliances you could possibly have running all at once as well as the square footage of your home.
It’s not hard to see that when using an electric hot water heater, dryer, dishwasher, fridge/freezer, hot tub, electric stove and home electronics and attempting to charge up your car will put a significant demand on your electrical system.
If you install the charger incorrectly, you might have all kinds of hard to diagnose problems with charging malfunctions, or worst case – fire hazards.
9. Does my EV Charger need annual maintenancing?
In general, the charging cord should be stored securely so it is not damaged. Any accessible EVSE parts should be checked periodically for wear and tear, and the overall system should be kept clean. You can clean the units with a damp cloth and some light detergent. Always make sure the equipment is de-energized before performing service on electrical components.
10. What EV charger do you recommend?
We like the FLO Home™ X5 Level 2 charging station, which is compatible with all EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It’s network connected and automatically updates it’s software so you don’t need to worry about it. It’s also an expandable system, which means you can install a second FLO charging station on the same electrical circuit and the two units will share the power and communicate with each other. The X5 represents great value, has a very sleek attractive design and the fact that it holds up well to harsh weather makes it a great solution for Canadian residents.
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