Electric vehicles are on the rise, and demand continues to grow. However, one significant factor of EVs that many often overlook is the ability to charge them.
Charging an electric vehicle involves more than simply running an extension cord from an outlet in your garage or outside somewhere to your car. Battery systems in EVs are complex and demand specialized chargers to be installed in your home.
For many, the thought of having to install costly equipment in their home just to charge an EV stops them from buying one altogether. However, the cost might not be as much as you believe. Also, if you think of the charging station as part of the car, it takes some of the sting out of the purchase.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the different types of home EV charging options available for your home and the costs associated with them. Also, to put these costs into perspective, we’ll compare them to average annual gas costs.
There are three levels of EV charging stations: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Each level of charging can deliver power to the battery of your EV at different rates. Also, as you work your way up the EV charging station levels, the cost of installation increases respectively. Level 3 charging stations are designed for commercial use, so we’ll only be discussing Level 1 and Level 2 for home charging stations.
The main difference between Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations is the amps they provide. Level 1 chargers have a low-amp rating, usually between 6 and 10 amps. This is why charging takes longer. There are many levels of amps with a Level 2 charger. It depends on the type of Level 2 charger, but you can usually select a power draw level during a charge between 6 and 50 amps. You’ll need to make sure your home can support this amount of power draw, which we’ll touch on later in the installation section.
Level 1 charging
As you might suspect, Level 1 charging is the most basic form of home EV charging. Most EVs come equipped with a Level 1 charger. The downside to Level 1 charging is that it takes significantly longer to charge your EV fully. Level 1 chargers take around 24 hours to deliver a full charge on an empty battery. For this reason, Level 1 charging isn’t a feasible option for electric vehicle owners who drive long distances every day.
Level 2 charging
With Level 2 charging, you can expect a faster charge. This is because you have to install a box on the interior or exterior of your home or garage. A Level 2 box amplifies the power flow and drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to charge your EV. Charging with a Level 2 device takes only about four to six hours.
Since there’s no added equipment needed for a Level 1 charger, there are no installation costs that come along with them. That is unless there’s no outlet in range of your car, then you would have to hire an electrician to install one in your home. And if f that’s the case, you might want to consider springing for a Level 2 charger.
You can install two types of Level 2 chargers in your home: hard-wired charger or plug-in model. If you already have a dedicated 240-volt outlet, as you use with washing machines and dryers, you can purchase a plug-in adapter for between $200 and $500, depending on the brand.
The other option for Level 2 chargers is for you to have one hardwired into your home. In this situation, the charger itself runs about the same as a plug-in model, but the labor costs bump up the overall price. After materials and labor, you can expect to pay anywhere between $850 and $2,500 for a hard-wired Level 2 home EV charger.
These rates assume that your home electrical panel can handle the amps of a Level 2 charger. Most homes are equipped with 100-amp service to the house. You should always consult a licensed electrician to see if what kind of charger your home can support. If you’re running many appliances, an electrician may suggest you upgrade your electrical service. Doing so can be a hidden cost of installing a home EV charger, which can be upward of $5,000 or more.
Where you decide to install your charger can also affect the installation cost. A charger installed outdoors exposed to the elements needs additional materials to help protect the unit. These supplemental materials result in a slightly higher price.
You might be wondering if going the more costly route of a hard-wired charger is better than a plug-in model Level 2 charger. The main advantage of hard-wired Level 2 home EV chargers is that they deliver the max amps, which means you can get the fastest charge. However, many plug-in Level 2 chargers reach up to 40 amps, which is more than sufficient for most people — even if you’re charging two EVs simultaneously. With both versions, you can select between a variety of amps.
One advantage a plug-in charger has over a hard-wired one is its portability. Not only does this mean you can charge in other places that have sufficient power, but repairs and replacements are also less expensive. So in the scheme of things, unless you must charge at max amps, a plug-in Level 2 charger saves you money with pretty much the same performance.
The cost of both gasoline and kilowatt-hours can vary significantly over a year. According to fueleconomy.gov, the average annual energy cost of an EV is around $650. Using the current national average gasoline price ($3.37), and doing the math of filling a 12-gallon tank per week, you’re looking at an average cost of $1,941 per year for a gas-powered car.
On the surface, it seems like EVs save you money. However, you also must consider the hidden costs. First, you have the upfront costs of a Level 2 charger if you choose to invest in one. Next, 17 states actually charge you an annual fee to own an EV. They do this by charging more in annual vehicle registration fees. These fees can range anywhere from $60 to over $200.
Another cost that doesn’t have a monetary value, but is still valuable to most, is time. There are times when you might find yourself away from home and desperately in need of a charge for your EV. After the initial time it takes to track down a charging station, you have to take more time out of your day for your car to charge instead of a quick fillup at the gas pump.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the actual costs of charging your EV. It’s undeniable that there are upfront costs associated with charging EVs that gas-powered vehicles don’t have. There are also some hidden costs to EVs. However, the long-term energy cost is still lower than gas, both for you financially and for the planet. How you choose to charge your vehicle ultimately determines the overall cost.
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