Per the Department of Energy, 80 percent of EV drivers charge at home¹, if you’re part of this 80 percent, it’s time to choose a home EV charger that is right for you.
This is because it is incredibly convenient to do so while you sleep overnight. Just like your phone, every day you wake up to your car 100% charged and ready to take on the day. This is why one of the first questions first-time EV drivers have is, “how do I know which EV home charger is best for me?”
As you may have learned, there are dozens and dozens of EV chargers (sometimes called EVSE or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) out there. Some say they are “Level 2” while others say they are “40 amp capable.” For the first-time EV driver, this may sound like a lot of mumble-jumble.
In this article, you’ll learn the important charging terminology and all the various home EV charger features. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to choose a home EV charger that best fits your specific needs. Like any other product, why pay more for features that you don’t need?
Benefits of Charging Your EV at Home
There are several benefits to charging your EV at home. These benefits, such as convenience, make owning and driving an EV much simpler than people normally think. At first, it may sound difficult as it requires a bit of a behavior shift from owning an internal combustion engine vehicle, or gas car. However, after a short period of time, EV drivers quickly adapt to the new vehicle refueling routine. In fact, per a study by Plug in America, 96 percent of current EV drivers stated they are likely to buy another EV².
Convenience (Less of Your Time)
As previously mentioned, the vast majority of EV drivers charge at home. Since the car sits overnight without any use and electrical power is nearby in the garage, it is extremely convenient to charge overnight. Many say charging an EV is just like charging a phone. In most cases, it is as simple as parking, plugging, and walking away. Only in rare cases will you need to charge at a public charging station while out on the road.
Another benefit of charging your EV at home is that it is much cheaper than at a public charging station. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average residential electricity rate in January 2021 was $0.13 per kilowatt-hour³. In contrast, per Green Car Journal, public charging network fees vary from as little as $0.16 to $1.07 per kilowatt-hour⁴.
Home EV Charger Factors to Consider
Now that you know a few of the benefits of charging at home, it is time to dive into how to choose your home EV charger.
One of the first considerations you will need to make while you choose your home EV charger is the charging speed. A Level 1 charger (one that uses 120 volts or a regular outlet that is used for your phone or TV) is usually provided with most new EVs but is quite slow. In fact, it is usually called a “trickle charger” due to its slow speed. Typically, a Level 1 charger provides around four miles of range per hour of charging.
On the other hand, a Level 2 charger (one that uses 240 volts or an outlet for an electric dryer) can charge an EV much quicker than a Level 1 charger. Level 2 chargers are often advertised with the maximum power or amps they can charge at. The slowest is at 3.8 kW or 16A, while the fastest, is around 12 kW or 50A. In terms of range, a Level 2 charger can provide around 12 to 37 miles of range per hour of charging.
When it comes to features, there are two types of chargers: smart/Wi-Fi capable and non-smart/Wi-Fi capable. The smart chargers offer a variety of features such as smartphone notifications, custom charging scheduling, user and guest access control, and more. On the other hand, non-smart chargers cannot provide these features. A smart charger typically costs around $500 to $700 while a non-smart charger costs around $300.
There are two main types of home EV charger plugs: Tesla and J1772. The Tesla plug is proprietary only for Tesla vehicles. There are adapters available for a Level 2 Tesla charger, however, if you don’t have or don’t plan on getting a Tesla, a universal plug, the J1772, is best. The J1772 plug is the standard for all other EVs, whether it is Ford or BMW.
If in doubt, it is best to choose your home EV charger with a J1772 plug as all EVs can easily charge with it and all Tesla vehicles are supplied with a J1772 adapter.
Safety at no expense. With many products out there, it is important to consider safety and reliability when you choose your home EV charger. Chargers reviewed and tested by the third-party testing group, UL, is a definite must when browsing. Additionally, it is worth checking online reviews to ensure the product functions as advertised. Lastly, it is key to check the warranty terms. It is a good idea to get a charger with a minimum of a one-year warranty.
Cost for Installation
The cost to install a home charger depends on a number of factors: electrician fees, outlet distance to an electrical panel, outlet voltage and amperage rating, charger hardwired or plug-in type, and more. For a simple installation where the electrical panel is located near the garage or parking location, it will take the electrician just a few hours. Per NeoCharge, it will cost around $500 to $2,250 to install a 240-volt outlet for a Level 2 charger⁵. It is highly recommended to shop around to ensure you receive the best price.
Cost for Maintenance
For many years, the home EV charger should work without any servicing or maintenance. The vast majority of the parts are non-moving, therefore, there should be little that wears down over time. If there is a part of the charger that is to fail, it will likely be the plug. As you can imagine, that component is used a number of times each day. Fortunately, the cost to replace the cable and plug is relatively inexpensive. Per EV Charging Solutions, a replacement cable will cost around $100⁶.
How to Choose the Right Vendor
Once you have selected the right home EV charger for you, it is time to select the vendor. Each vendor may have different pricing, however, not all will include maintenance contracts or extended warranties.
While EV chargers last for many years, they, like all things, will eventually need servicing. To avoid the stress of figuring out how to charge your EV when your home EV charger malfunctions, it could be beneficial to sign a maintenance contract with the vendor or better yet, become a 365 Pronto customer for hassle-free EV charger operations and maintenance. This peace of mind will ensure the charger is functioning properly over time so that your vehicle can stay fully charged when needed.
As aforementioned, each home charger should come with at least a basic warranty of one year. In addition, it could be a good idea to also get an extended warranty from the vendor. This additional warranty would cover parts and labor after a few years of ownership. Like the maintenance contract, it can bring peace of mind.
For any EV charger maintenance, repair, or installation, 365 Pronto’s easy-to-use platform connects you and your EV asset directly to a network of local, compliant, and certified service providers. It’s as simple as creating a work order in under three minutes and a push notification is sent to local, on-demand providers in your area waiting to fill the gaps in their calendars. To learn more about how to onboard and become a Pronto customer, contact the 365 Pronto Team for additional information or a platform demo.
Department of Energy: Charging at Home¹
Plug in America: Satisfied Drivers, Optimistic Intenders²
U.S. Energy Information Administration: Average Electricity Rates³
Green Car Journal: What Does Public Charging Cost?⁴
NeoCharge: How Much Does it Cost to Install a Home Charging Station?⁵
EV Charging Solutions: Replacement Cables⁶