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When Should You Buy a Home Ev Charger

February 27, 2024

Purchasing an electric vehicle is an exciting milestone, but charging your new car at home requires some planning. Installing a home EV charger is a significant investment that involves careful consideration of your needs, costs and electrical capacity. Here is a comprehensive guide on optimal timing and key factors to weigh when deciding when to buy and install a home charging station.

Why Plan Ahead for a Home Charger?

Experts universally recommend buying and installing your home EV charger when you order your electric car or immediately after purchase. This ensures you have a fully operational charger ready upon delivery of your new EV.

The installation process for home chargers can take weeks or even months. Electric utilities must approve all installations and may require electrical upgrades before permitting charger installation. With over 1 million EVs now on US roads, qualified installers are in high demand, so lead times are increasing. Planning ahead locks in both product availability and timely installation.

Best EV Home Chargers Tesla Model Y

Weighing the Costs and Benefits

Like any major purchase, assessing the costs and benefits of a home EV charger is essential. Key factors to consider include:

Upfront Costs

Home EV charger units range from $400-$1000. Professional installation costs typically range from $800-$2000, including permits. Some homes require electrical upgrades like panel replacement, which can add $2000-$5000 to the project cost.

Ongoing Savings

Home charging is far cheaper than public charging. Home electricity rates average 10-15 cents/kWh, whereas public DC fast charging costs 31-43 cents/kWh. With advanced smart chargers, you can leverage time-of-use rates as low as 9 cents/kWh for overnight charging.

Convenience

Home charging ensures you start each day with a full charge. No more hunting for available public chargers or waiting in line during peak times. Just plug in at home each night.

Future Proofing

Demand for home chargers will continue rising over the next decade. Lock in equipment and installation now before lead times get longer.

Analyze your driving needs and electricity costs to determine if benefits outweigh the upfront investment. Financial assistance like electric utility rebates can offset installation costs.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Selecting the right home EV charger depends primarily on your electrical service, charging speed needs and connected/smart features. Key factors include:

  • Charging speed – Faster Level 2 chargers (9-11kW) provide ~25 miles of range per hour, while lower power (6-7kW) add ~15-20 miles/hour. Evaluate your daily driving and charging availability to determine ideal charging speed.
  • Electrical capacity – Amperage rating must align with your electrical service. Check your main breaker size to determine capacity. Know that your utility may require upgrades for larger EV chargers.
  • Smart capabilities – Wifi-enabled chargers allow monitoring, access controls and integration with electricity rates to optimize charging costs. Evaluate whether these features are worth added costs.
  • Future proofing – Consider a higher capacity charger than your needs today if you may add a second EV or upgrade to a longer range EV. The charger will work fine with your existing EV.
  • Safety certifications – Only use UL or ETL certified chargers to ensure equipment safety.

Finding a Qualified Electrician

Vet installers thoroughly since improper installation poses fire and electrocution risks. Red flags include failing to pull permits or perform load calculations. Those certified through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) are best qualified. Ask friends for referrals and read reviews before hiring.

Installation Timeline

Ideally, start the installation process 4-8 weeks before your EV arrives. Some automakers provide chargers or rebates only after vehicle delivery, so determine if it’s better to wait. Also research electric utility and state/local incentives, as application approvals can take time.

Charging Options if Installation is Delayed

  • Use the portable Level 1 (120V) cordset provided with your EV for basic charging needs. This adds ~3 miles of range per hour.
  • Seek public Level 2 charging for supplemental needs, but beware this can be inconvenient and costs 4-8X more than home charging.
  • Consider load management devices like Wallbox Pulsar Plus which can work around limited electrical capacity. This maintains home charging until electrical upgrades are completed.
  • Explore direct meter connections like ConnectDER that bypass capacity constraints at the main panel, but note these emerging technologies are still establishing safety track records.

The Future is Electric

Home EV charging delivers substantial benefits in savings, convenience and control. As electric vehicles continue dramatically disrupting transportation, installing a home charger will prove a wise investment. Carefully weigh costs, electrical constraints and your needs to determine the optimal timeline for your situation. With prudent planning, you’ll quickly enjoy the ease and cost savings of home charging.

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