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North American EV engineers tried to do consumers a solid when they made their cars capable of being charged by a standard plug - they almost made it universal. But not only did cars from different EV manufacturers create contrasting standards (Tesla, Europe, and Japanese automakers), but all charging methods are not created equal.
That’s why installing a residential EV charger can make charging faster, safer, and reduce energy costs.
Setting up an electric car charger in, or around your residence, requires knowing a few things about the plugs and cables you’ll need, and the capacity and savings gained by getting a residential EV charger installed.
People use their EVs in very different ways, as some have long commutes to work, while others just use their EVs for errands and outings. In light of that fact there are many options for EV owners, but the benefits remain the same.
If you have a car manufactured in North America then you’re probably using the standard Level 1 plug. It emits 110/120 Volts, which is not much, and on average only yields about 3-5 miles of range per hour. European and Japanese EVs charge at a similar rate. If you’re driving 20 miles each way to work, that equates to a lot of hours charging!
If you forget to plug it in right when you get home, you could be in trouble for the following day’s commute.
Fortunately for most, charging your EV at night is off-peak electricity hours, but your car will basically be charging the entire night. Residential EV charging stations can drastically reduce the time needed to charge your EV, up to 10 times as fast, in fact.
By buying the components for a residential EV charging station and hiring an electrician to install it, EV owners could be charging their vehicles at a range of 25 miles per hour.
The Level 2 plug that is typical of a residential EV charging station is double the voltage of a Level 1 at 240 Volts, and requires two slots for switches in your circuit breaker. Imagine charging your car for a 100 mile ride in just four hours! That’s pretty darn fast.
Plugging in a cable to your home’s electric grid accomplishes a wonderful transfer of power, and in the process, gets very, very hot. Mode 1 charging cables had to be outlawed for this reason, as the heat caused fires without a proper regulator.
A Mode 2 charging cable is now the standard, and it’s certainly safer than its predecessor. However, certain things that run hot are just not meant to be plugged in and drawing power for so long. Just imagine your toaster running hot for 10 hours, or an electric iron. It’s just not safe.
Residential EV charging stations are not only safer because they require less time to charge your EV, but they also have better regulators to shut off the flow of power in case the heat makes the process unstable.
Installing a charger for an EV does require some up front costs, as you’ll need to purchase the station and hire an electrician to install it. Depending on the electrical situation in your residence, this could be as little as a few hundred dollars. In other cases, it can cost a lot more, but it should not cost any more than $2,000.
Charging during off-peak hours is highly recommended, and there are a number of mobile apps that enable you to start and stop charging your EV. Government tax credits have long been a selling point for EVs, and while some subsidies for installing EV chargers have expired, be on the lookout for legislation that incentivizes EV owners.
In case you’re wondering why you’re able to charge your EV in 20-30 minutes at a charging station, it’s because they use Level 3 charging power (480 Volts), which is basically unheard of inside North American homes. It can also cost north of $20,000 to install a Level 3 charger, and simply isn’t viable in a residence.
Level 2 charging power is typical in a residential EV charging station, as it’s right in the middle of a commercial charger and basic one. There are several different options for Level 2 chargers as the market is flooded with inventory, but whichever Level 2 charger you choose, just make sure it has the right plug for your model.
While North American cars use a standard plug fit for a DC connection, Japanese automakers use the CHAdeMO Plug, and European automakers use a Combined Charging System (CCS), which can also be compatible with North American outlets. Then, there’s also Tesla, which has developed their own standard plug fit for their charging stations.
Whichever plug makes sense for your vehicle, and whatever EV charger you choose, it’s recommended that you go with the Level 2 plug. Level 3 is essentially unavailable to individual residences, and Level 1 is basically what you get when you buy your EV.
Smart EV charging stations will likely cost a bit more, but you get a lot of capability and peace of mind by purchasing one. Smart EV charging stations can be connected to your residence’s WiFi, and can be controlled through an app on your smartphone.
Perhaps best of all is that they can send you notifications about the charging process, such as current range, and if there is an unforeseen disruption of the process. Smart EV charging stations can also remind you if you’ve forgotten to start the charge, can provide data on past charges, and even schedule charging times.
So there you have it - it makes a lot of sense to install a residential EV charging station. There seems to be a universal savings, as time, money, and burden are all decreased with the installation of an EV charger. Trifectas are good, just as owning an EV is good for the environment.