Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is on the rise. In some locations, EVs make up a significant percentage of new car sales. Even if you don’t have an electric car, you might live near someone who does. What are the implications of this shift in transportation? We’ll break down how an EV home charger works and what it means for your home electrical installation. If you own an electric vehicle or plan to purchase one, it’s important to understand how your car can be charged at home.
Electric vehicles need a special charger that operates on 230 V AC voltage and has a smaller connector for charging from your home electrical outlet. This article addresses everything you need to know about EV home chargers and their installation.
Why Do Electric Vehicles Require a Special Charger?
Electric vehicles use an alternating current source, which is what you get when you turn your home’s electrical power on. Traditional, gasoline-powered cars use direct current, which comes from a battery or fuel cell. The main difference between these power sources is the amount of energy they produce. A single gallon of gas is equivalent to 33,000 kilowatt-hours of energy.
By contrast, the most efficient EVs produce around 40 kilowatt-hours per hour of charging. On top of this, modern charging stations are also smart. They can gauge how much power your car needs, charge your car faster, and shut off when the car is fully charged. This helps prevent power surges and overcharging that can damage your car’s battery.
How Does an EV Home Charging Station Work?
EV homes charging stations use household current to charge your car. When you plug in your car at home, the charger sends electricity through a transformer to reduce the voltage to a safe amount, usually around 240 V. Then, the charging station sends current to your car through a heavy-duty charging cable. As electricity passes from the charger to the transformer, it creates heat.
The transformer cools this heat by passing the current through a cooling fin. The transformer also changes AC current to DC current, which powers your car. The charging station breaks the circuit once your car has charged enough.
Installing an EV Charging Station
Installing an electric vehicle charging station requires an electrical installation. You can hire an electrician to perform the installation, or you can do it yourself if you have the proper experience. Because electric vehicle charging stations have higher amperage than normal outlets, they require an electrical inspection and permit before they can be installed.
Doors and Walls – Electricians will first make sure your garage door and walls are wide enough to install the charging station and plug. The National Electric Code requires electricians to make walls wide enough to accommodate the plug and any wall-mounted electrical switch.
Wiring – The next step is to run a 240-volt circuit from the electrical service panel to the wall where you want to install the station. The circuit must include a 20-amp breaker and a breaker at the panel. The electrician will run a conduit or metal-clad cable to protect the wires from being damaged or crushed.
Outlet – After installing the circuit, the electrician will install a new outlet. This outlet must be wired to the circuit. The outlet will have either a 15-amp or 20-amp breaker. The electrician will also install a wall-mounted circuit breaker switch. This switch lets you shut off the circuit to the charging station.
When You Need a Professional to Install Your EV Charger
An electrician should install your electric vehicle charging station if any of the following are true: – You aren’t comfortable installing the charging station yourself. – Your electrical installation doesn’t meet electrical code requirements. – You want to use a circuit that isn’t currently used. – You want to install a 240-volt circuit that isn’t currently used. – You want to install a 240-volt circuit on a 220-volt service panel. – You want to install an outlet with a higher amperage than the code allows. – Your circuit or wiring is too old.
When You Don’t Need a Professional to Install Your EV Charger
You don’t need a professional to install your electric vehicle charging station if any of the following are true: – You want to use a circuit that is already in use. – You want to install a 120-volt circuit. – You want to install a 240-volt circuit on a 220-volt service panel. – You want to install an outlet with a lower amperage than the code allows. – You are adding a second circuit to an existing wiring. – Your circuit or wiring is up to date.