The electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and electric vehicle (EV) industry as a whole has made headway over the last few years. We can expect this rapid growth in EV adoption and EVSE installation to continue thanks to major car manufacturers producing more options at affordable prices. Familiar brands like Chevrolet and Ford creating EV options, and EV startups like Rivian jumping into the market.
Electronic Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) is an integral part of the infrastructure supporting this new mode of transportation. EVSE is used to charge electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles. They are also commonly referred to as EV charging stations, electric recharging stations, or simply charging points.
Drivers who own an electric vehicle and business owners who want to provide options for EV drivers need to be aware of the options for charging up an EV. This handy guide will answer some common questions about EVSE and answer that vexing question, What is electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE)?
Finding the right EVSE installation for you
EVSE are generally broken down into three types of chargers: Level 1 chargers (L1), Level 2 chargers (L2), and Level 3 chargers (L3). Each type of charger is beneficial in separate ways. Therefore, whether you are purchasing EVSE for your home or business, you should gauge your needs and expectations before deciding what type of EVSE to install.
When considering the right EVSE installation for you, there are several key concepts to consider. Here are a few things to consider when finding the right EVSE installation for you:
Speed is one of the most varying factors when looking at different levels of EVSE. And to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your EV, it’s critically important to pay attention to the viability of speed in your EV charger.
The Level 1 Charger:
The Level 1 charger, often known as the trickle charger, charges 3-5 miles per hour at the slowest rate. However, the Level 1 charger is ideal for hybrids, non-daily cars, or EVs that only travel 40 miles each day.
The Level 2 Charger:
The Level 2 charger is the most popular for home usage since it utilizes a standard 240-volt appliance outlet and can charge an EV in 6-10 hours. To be exact, EV adoption found that 797 public charging stations are Level 2, with 14.9 percent being DC fast-chargers, roughly three times the rate of Level 1 charging stations (5%). For most EV drivers, this makes Level 2 chargers the most popular.
The Level 3 Charger:
The Level 3 charger, also known as the supercharger, is the fastest charging option, fully charging an EV in as quick as one hour. This is only available for business usage since L3 chargers offer 480 volts DC, whereas Level 1 and 2 chargers deliver alternating current (AC). 480 volts direct current isn’t available in today’s houses.
EV Smart Chargers are connected to WiFi and can monitor, utilize, and regulate charging usage. WiFi-equipped ESVE lets you remotely start, stop, and watch a charge. It can also remind you to plug in the car if you haven’t already. Many EVSE smart chargers can do all of this with just a mobile application. Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant can even control certain WiFi charging stations.
If your utility provider offers lower rates during off-peak hours, you can utilize the app for scheduling a charge to save money. In addition, some smart chargers can monitor the internet for lower power prices and charge at certain times.
In terms of costs, smart chargers come in with a higher price tag. A smart charger will typically cost between $500 and $700, whereas a non-smart charger costs approximately $300.
Smart chargers are popular choices for public EVSE installations due to the Dynamic Loan Management (DLM) feature. DLM is a software-based approach for managing energy while many charging stations are active. DLM enables the most efficient charging of several EVs by dynamically balancing the leftover power amongst the chargers.
Plug-in or Hardwired
EVSE has two main options to be connected to electricity: Plug-in or hardwired.
Plug-in charging stations allow you to plug your EVSE into a 240-volt outlet simply. They usually come with a short 240-volt input cable. You will find that most L1 chargers fall in this category. However, most plugs aren’t rated for frequent plugging and unplugging, so plan on leaving the charging station plugged in.
Level 2 charging stations, like HVAC equipment and other large appliances, need a lot of electricity. The hardwired option is placed on the wall and comes with three feet of flexible conduit and service cables. These cables connect to wires from your electrical panel in a junction box. Hardwired devices provide more choices for amperage and charging speed than plug-in options.
Generally, indoor chargers or covered chargers are less likely to be damaged by external factors like climate. However, there are a few other considerations that you should think about when deciding where to install your EVSE.
- If the EVSE is a Smart Charger, it will need to be connected to WiFi. So make sure it’s in range of a WiFi network.
- You need to make sure you can leave your car to charge for several hours. So, if you prefer your EV to be in a garage, you will most likely want to install your charger in the garage.
- Do you have somewhere you can mount the charger? If there isn’t a wall available to mount it on, installing a post may require some upfront work.
Of course, the cost is a factor when deciding on the right EVSE for you. Installation expenses for charging devices can vary widely.
A Level 1 charger costs $300-600 before labor, or about $1,700.
The Level 2 charger costs between $500 and $700, with labor ranging from $1,200 to $2,000.
Parts for Level 3 will cost between $20,000 and $50,000, and labor might cost up to $50,000.
Remember that significant electrical upgrades to your house may increase the cost of installation.
According to industry experts, an EVSE station should last approximately ten years. However, the lifespan of an EV charger, no matter the level, will depend on the maintenance, location, usage, and other factors. Private chargers are more reliable and have a longer lifespan than chargers in public areas because they are used less.
Keeping your EVSE station on a maintenance schedule is the best thing you can do to keep your EVSE in top-working order. Thankfully, many EV providers have maintenance plans for an additional yearly fee. Check with each manufacturer about the types of maintenance plans they offer before choosing which EVSE to purchase.
Charging an EV is safe and simple when done with properly certified equipment. The issue is that not all charging stations are safety checked and approved.
With OSHA’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) program, independent entities recognized for their proficiency in electrical assessments are permitted to test and verify that products satisfy relevant standards. Each lab has its certified certification mark, like the Intertek ETL or Underwriter’s laboratory mark.
Do your homework and ensure the EVSE manufacturer you are purchasing from is reputable and follows safety criteria.
Your Electric Vehicle Charger Installation
Keep in Mind NEC Recommendations
The National Electric Code (NEC) is the minimal regulatory safety criteria that structures and equipment must fulfill to be installed and used by the general public. Remember those testing laboratories we just discussed above? They come into play here. The NEC mandates that each charging station built in the US be NRTL approved.
If you want to take a deep dive into NEC recommendations for EVSE, you can check out NEC part 625.
Here’s a basic rundown.
Sections 625.40 and 625.42 detail the installation conditions for continuous and non-continuous loads. The takeaway is that the 80/20 rule should be followed while charging EVs. You need a sophisticated load management system to operate charging stations beyond 80% line capacity. This load control system restricts the EVSE and guarantees the 80% rule.
Determine Your Home’s Eligibility
The International Code Council (ICC) is a non-profit trade group whose regulations are adopted by governments, construction businesses, and all 50 states. The ICC stated in their 2020 revised standards, “New construction shall facilitate future installation and use of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) by the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70).” These new regulations apply to single-family dwellings, multi-family homes, condominiums, and apartments. So, if you live in a newly built home, your home may be already EV-ready.
If you live in an older home, you might have to do a little more research. A Level 1 charger can plug into a standard 120V AC outlet. Level 1 EVSE is portable and requires no installation.
Most home and public charging stations are Level 2 and use 240 Volts and connect to your vehicle’s regular charging connector. Installing a charging station at home requires the same wiring as an electric stove or dryer. Since installing a Level 2 charger takes some extra electrical work, you should hire an EVSE experienced electrician.
The important thing is to choose a charger with an amperage level that matches your vehicle and your home’s electrical capacity.
Check that Your Electric Supply is Enough
Level 1 equipment needs a 120 volt (V) dedicated circuit and may draw up to 15 amps to produce 1.8 kW of electricity.
Level 2 equipment needs a 240 V AC socket (80 amps, 19.2 kW) and a charging station. However, most home level 2 EVSE use 30 amps and produce 7.2 kW of electricity.
Because L3 chargers give 480 volts DC, while Level 1 and 2 chargers deliver alternating current (AC), Level 3 chargers are only accessible for commercial use. In today’s homes, 480 volts DC is not obtainable.
Get an Electrical Permit
EVSEs are high-power energy transmission devices, so permits are usually required to install an EVSE. A permit allows a building inspector to verify that the charging station is NRTL registered, that the electrical system fulfills all relevant NEC requirements, and that the equipment is safe to use.
Check with your local community development center to determine what electrical permits are needed to install an EVSE in your area. Also, check with your electrician to determine what permits they can obtain for you.
Get a Qualified Electrician to Set up the System
Since having an EVSE installed can involve some significant electrical upgrades, it’s best to hire a licensed electrician for the job. The electrician should be familiar with EVSE. Check out the ClipperCreek installer resource to find an electrician with EVSE experience in your area.
Make Sure to Get the System Inspected by Your Municipality
It is recommended that EVSE owners and contractors check with their local municipalities to see what inspections, permits, or additional procedures are needed before the EVSE installation. This can vary across many counties and states, so check with your local jurisdiction to find out what exactly is required for your area. This information can usually be found online or with a quick call to your local community development office.
Conclusion / Summary
Your individual needs and expectations will help you determine what you need from your EVSE. Hopefully, this guide provided you with some insight into the different types of EVSE stations and how each class can be most practical for you.
If you want further information, check out Enphase’s EV charging resource to determine what charging station is ideal for your needs. Also, check out our additional articles on different EV-related topics.
Our simple platform links you and your asset directly to a network of local, compliant, and qualified service providers for any EV charger maintenance, repair, or installation. Contact us for more information or a platform demo to learn more about onboarding and becoming a provider.