How to Charge Your EV at Home
Home charging makes life with an electric car so much better. EV drivers who are able to charge at home almost never experience range anxiety; they simply plug in their vehicles while at home, which usually means they have a full charge when they set off the next day. Home charging is usually much cheaper than public charging – especially if you set up your EV to charge during off-peak hours – contributing to substantially lower ownership costs. But is your home ready to charge an EV?
Most Owners Charge at Home
A recent survey by the Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety at home and the workplace shows that the majority of EV owners – 75 percent – have not had any issues charging at home. 86 percent of EV owners surveyed had at-home Level 2 chargers, and 96 percent of those were satisfied, or very satisfied, with their at-home charger installation.
Of the EV owners surveyed, 65 percent of owners had their charger installed by an electrician. 18 percent used a contractor to install the charger, while 11 percent did it themselves, and 5 percent utilized a handyman. The ESFI stresses that the 65 percent number should be higher, and that qualified EV installers should always complete the installation process. Furthermore, a site inspection by a qualified professional before the installation helps determine whether upgrades are needed to a home’s electrical system.
EV Charging: Older Homes May Require Upgrades
“Older homes may not be able to safely handle EV charging without overloading the home’s electrical system,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “ESFI urges consumers to have a qualified electrician complete an assessment on their home before purchasing or installing EVSE to ensure their electrical system can withstand the demands of EV charging.”
Indeed, in the ESFI’s survey, just over half of electric car owners actually had to upgrade their electrical panel before installing an EV charger. Depending on the age of the home and the state of its electrical supply, upgrades can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, emphasizing the need to do an assessment beforehand.
There were some other speed bumps on the way to home charging satisfaction for EV owners. 45 percent needed to purchase an adapter to charge their EV (for instance, an adapter for a Tesla to work with a charger that uses a CCS-type plug), and 41 percent have had to have maintenance performed on their at home charger. 8 percent also reported receiving an electrical shock while charging their EVs.
EV Charing: The Importance of Safety
While it’s easy to go online to find the cheapest solutions, it’s important to remember that EV charging puts serious amounts of current through cables. Improper installation can result in major safety concerns. Low-quality EV chargers or cables can cause shocks, fires, and damage to an electric car’s battery. ESFI recommends having EV chargers only installed by professionals, and using only UL and CSA-certified cables and chargers.
Further advice from ESFI for electric car charging safety includes:
- Prior to charging, inspect your charger and cables, and never use them if they appear damaged
- Do not use extension cords
- Use manufacturer-approved charging cables
- Do not alter or modify your charger, battery, or electric vehicle
- Mount or store your EV charger to avoid water and other damage
If you’re looking to make the switch to an EV, GreenCars makes it easy to order a certified home charger, and obtain a home charging installation assessment. You can also find more useful information at esfi.org.