March 29, 2022

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Getting an EV Home Charger (But Were Too Afraid to Ask)


5 Min. Read

Savvy consumers take the time to research before they make big purchasing decisions. Asking the right questions and going to the right source are essential. Deciding to join the electric vehicle (EV) revolution involves more than picking the vehicle. Before you take the plunge into the EV world by installing an EV home charger, this guide aims to answer all of your EV questions.

EV Charging 101

What is an EV charger?

Simply put, an EV charger is a device that takes currents from an outlet and feeds this curent to the storage in the vehicle’s battery pack. Think of the charging device that comes with an electric vehicle like the charger that comes with a cell phone; you plug your car into the charger overnight or while working throughout the day to ensure you can unplug and drive away later.

There are different levels of chargers that require a higher current than what is available in the home. You see these chargers in commercial electric vehicle charging stations at malls, in hotel parking lots and in growing numbers of locations. Many EV drivers prefer to purchase and install a higher-power EV home charger for their home. These units are more expensive but charge the vehicle far faster than the standard lower-power chargers.

How long does it take to charge an EV?

There is no standard answer. Charging times vary based on the automobile model, level of charger, vehicle battery size, weather conditions and other factors. The slowest chargers increase the vehicle range by 3-5 miles per hour, whereas the fastest chargers are capable of adding 20 miles per minute. Additionally, electric cars charge at varying speeds. Charging speeds up when the car battery is closer to empty and slows down once the battery reaches 80% full.

What are the different levels of charging?

Among the three “levels” of chargers or charging stations, the first two appear in EV home chargers:

Level 1 chargers come with the automobile. These units plug into any 120-V outlet. Level 1 chargers work very slowly. It can take as long as 20 hours to add enough power to drive 124 miles. However, these chargers do well enough for overnight charging if the driver’s commute is short or they usually do not drive long distances.

Level 2 chargers require a 240-V outlet (like an electric clothes dryer). Accordingly, home installation may require an electric panel upgrades and should be done by a professional installer. Most electric vehicle owners find it worthwhile to choose a Level 2 charger since it works 5 to 7 times faster than Level 1 options. A Level 2 EV home charger will require approximately four hours to add a 124-mile range in many car models equipped with standard batteries. You can often find Level 2 chargers in public parking lots, office buildings and other places.

Level 3 chargers, also called DC Fast Charge or Supercharging stations, are commercial-use ones that require 400-V to 900-V direct current connections, a higher voltage than typically allowed in residential areas. However, these public chargers offer the quickest way to charge a vehicle and can fill the battery in less than an hour. Two things to be aware of with DC charging stations:

  • DC Fast Chargers only charge quickly when the vehicle’s battery state-of-charge (SOC) is below 80%. For the remaining 20%, these units slow down to avoid overcharging.
  • Not every EV has batteries that can accommodate Level 3 chargers.

Home applications and installation

While drivers of electric vehicles often worry about having sufficient range on a long trip, the reality is that most driving is commutes and around town. Further, drivers do 80% of EV charging at home, usually overnight. So, installing a charger station at your residence ensures you can start the day with a full battery.

What do you need for an EV home charger unit? There are several EV chargers on the market. Consider these things before purchasing a unit:

  • Location. Most charging stations need to be hardwired. A Level 2 unit needs a dedicated circuit and a 240-V outlet. You want to choose a spot that is accessible and easy to use.
  • Unit size and design. If you are mounting the EV home charger on the wall of a garage that is tight on space, particularly when the car is there, look for a narrow or flatter one to minimize the affected space. To avoid getting the cord tangled or running over it repeatedly, look for a charger that holds everything securely in place when you aren’t using it.
  • Cable length. If the charger station is not portable, the cable needs to be long enough to easily reach the EV where you will park it, whether in the garage, driveway or street. Keep in mind that you may add another EV in the future, so there should be flexibility in the setup or cable’s reach.
  • Weather resistance. If you plan to use the charger outside, you need one that is designed for outdoor use. These are usually waterproof and usable in the heat or snowy weather your area is expected to encounter.
  • Smart chargers. Like many other modern appliances, EV chargers come in standard and smart options. You plug in standard ones, and they turn off once the car has fully charged. Smart chargers can be programmed to start charging when energy rates go down. You can operate them using a smartphone app that lets you verify the car is ready to go when you are.

Do I need an electrician to install an EV home charger unit?

The installer should not only be an electrician but one with experience dealing with EV charging at home. You cannot afford to let installation issues affect your home or your vehicle.

You may want to consult an EV home charger installation expert before purchasing the charging station. They can help you understand whether the one you are eyeing and the potential installation location are appropriate for your intended setup. They can also determine if you need an electrical panel upgrade and city permits.

What about upkeep going forward?

Level 1 and Level 2 home charging stations require little maintenance if installed correctly. Networked and Level 3 stations typically need more maintenance.

Finding expert help

Going electric is exciting, but many find hiring the right installer and getting expert help daunting. However, industry professionals across the U.S. and Canada can help you. Qmerit is a North American leader in helping drivers and businesses transition to EVs.

Recommended by EV auto and charger manufacturers, Qmerit offers competitively priced EV charging solutions to meet your needs. Its vetted network of installers is well trained and unmatched. They follow the highest safety and quality standards.

You may be purchasing a new car, but the technology it uses requires different expertise from that of your previous gas-powered vehicle. Don’t embark on your EV journey and home charger installation on your own. For access to a nationwide network of certified electricians, contact Qmerit today.

Author: Lowry Stoops

Lowry Stoops

President, Qmerit Network