The Best Home Electrical Vehical (EV) Chargers
The Best Home EV Chargers
The Best Home EV Chargers
If you live in an area with underdeveloped infrastructure, there's a good chance you're going to have to install a home EV charger.
Owning an electric vehicle has its benefits, one of which is never having to go to the gas station to refuel. But if you live in an area with underdeveloped infrastructure, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to install a home EV charger so you don’t end up having to look for a nearby public charger. Not only is having an EV charger at home convenient so you can charge anytime you want, you’ll also never have to worry about waiting in line if public chargers are all being occupied. If you’re shopping for a car charger, you have probably realized a standard wall outlet just doesn’t cut it. Home chargers aren’t exactly inexpensive, but they’re worth the investment. You can also check for available rebates, tax credits, and other incentives in your area for installing a home EV charger.
There are a few factors to take into consideration when choosing the right charger. For starters, is your vehicle a plug-in hybrid or a battery-electric vehicle? A plug-in like the Chevrolet Volt doesn’t necessarily need an expensive charger, as opposed to fully electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt or Nissan Leaf. Don’t spend more than you have to, especially if you’re charging a plug-in hybrid.
Next, you’ll need to determine whether you want a Level 1 or a Level 2 charger. Level 2 chargers do the job quicker than Level 1 chargers, but often require a different power outlet that you may not already have available in your household. Some chargers are hardwired, while others can simply be plugged in. Decide whether you want a plug-and-play solution or a charger that requires professional installation from an electrician. Lastly, if you aren’t installing your charger inside a garage, make sure to purchase one that is durable when exposed to sun, wind, and water. You’ll want to make sure the charger you’re purchasing is outdoor rated.
How much does a home electric car charger cost to install?
Costs for the charger itself and installation depend on everything from the location you choose and electricity supply you have to the colour of the finished unit. Costs typically start at around $670/£500 for a basic unit and go up to many thousands for designer units. There are various grants available that you can apply for to help mitigate costs. In the US, federal grants vary by state, so you'll need to check locally. In the UK, there’s the OLEV grant, which allows electric vehicle drivers to claim up to £350 for a home charging point. For those who live in Scotland, there’s also an additional £300 Energy Savings Trust (EST) grant.
'You can claim one charge point per eligible vehicle and up to two eligible vehicles per household in the UK, which can make a real difference to the purchasing and installation costs.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?
The cost of charging your car at home will depend on your electricity tariff and how far you drive, but will almost always be cheaper than using public charging stations.To work out how much your car will cost to charge, you'll need to do some basic math and know roughly how many miles you drive a month, say the car experts at Kelly Blue Book. Use a recent energy bill to work out how much you pay per kWh for your electricity.
Here's an example of how to calculate the cost of charging an electric car at home for somebody who drives 540 miles each month. Most electric cars get three or four miles per kWh, so divide 540 by three and you'll see you'll use 180kWh per month. Multiply this by your cost per kWh, which is usually about 12 cents/ 9p, and you'll see it'll cost $21.60/£16.64 each month to charge your electric vehicle. Smart home chargers are a great option as they allow you to monitor electricity and how much you're spending charging your car using using an app.
How quickly will my electric car charge at home?
Charging speeds vary depending on the size of the battery and the speed of the charger you have. Most home chargers charge at a maximum of 7kW, which will typically be slower than public chargers. 'Expect a 7kW charger to give you a charging rate of about 14 miles per hour,' says green energy expert David Hilton.
As a general rule of thumb, expect a full charge at home to take seven to 12 hours, which is why most people choose to charge their cars overnight.
Do home chargers work with all types of electric car?
It depends on the charger you choose, so always check. Even if a charger isn't suitable for your car, you'll usually be able to buy adapters to make it work.
'Our chargers are compatible with all electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles, so if you switch your car, it will still work perfectly with your new car, making it future proof,' explains Rob Mouser, Executive Chairman at Anderson EV.
I chose an electric car to be more eco-friendly – should I worry about where the power to my home charger is coming from?
If sustainability is the main driver for getting an electric car, then yes, says green energy expert David Hilton. 'It should make us ask the question why we are using low emission vehicles but generating the electricity from coal. That said, there is a growing percentage of green electricity and zero carbon nuclear in the grid mix, so the situation is improving.'
Laura is Brand Development Editor for Real Homes, focusing on video and events. She has written about homes and interiors for the last 12 years and was Deputy Editor and Editor of Real Homes before taking on her current position. She's currently deciding whether to extend the kitchen of her family home in Worcestershire or relocate for a renovation project and bigger garden.
Table of contents
- JuiceBox Smart EV Charger
The JuiceBox series of home EV chargers is available in three variants, 32 amp (7.7 kW), 40 amp (9.6 kW), and 48 amp (11.5 kW). The 32- and 40-amp versions can either be used as a plug-in charger (NEMA 14-50) or hardwired, while the JuiceBox 48 is only currently available as a hardwired option. Built on the universal J1772 charging standard, all versions of the JuiceBox are WiFi-enabled, Level 2 charging stations that can charge all electric vehicles on the market, including Tesla vehicles by using an adapter. With these chargers, you can use the JuiceNet mobile app and web portal to control scheduling, energy metering, notifications, and LED charging light indicators. You can even ask JuiceNet to remind you to plug-in your vehicle if you’ve setup up a daily charging routine. These chargers are also compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home, so you can use voice commands to monitor, manage, and control your charger.
Each charger is housed in a weatherproof, dust-tight, polycarbonate casing that is indoor and outdoor rated. They’re equipped with a 25-foot cable with a standard SAE J1772 plug at the end and the company provides a three-year warranty for use under normal residential operating conditions.
- ChargePoint Home Flex WiFi Enabled EV Charger
If you have ever used public charging, there’s a chance you have come across a charger from ChargePoint. The company’s home charger is WiFi-enabled and is available in either hardwired or plug-in versions with your choice of a NEMA 14-50 plug or a NEMA 6-50 plug. Both options feature a 23-foot long cable. Like the JuiceBox, the ChargePoint home charger works with Alexa, which means you can control it remotely an Alexa device. The app allows you to schedule charging when electricity is cheapest, as well as set reminders so you never forget to plug in your vehicle.
This recommendation is a Level 2 charger that can charge up to 50 amps, adding up to 37 miles of range per hour on most electrified vehicles. The plug-in station can be set to charge at 16 amps to 50 amps, giving you control based on your home’s electrical supply. This is a UL-listed charger, so you know it’s been designed and built for electrical safety, as well as being Energy Star certified. The company provides a 3-year warranty and 24/7 customer support with the charger.
- Siemens VersiCharge Home Charger
The Siemens VersiCharge is available in three models: Hardwire, Universal, and Smart Grid. The Hardwire model is the most affordable of the three, but must be directly wired into your electrical panel for indoor applications. The Universal model is the VersiCharge’s best value offering, as a plug-and-play solution that can work indoors and outdoors. Lastly, the Smart Grid is like the Universal model in that it’s plug-and-play, but also is a WiFi connected charger so you can use an iOS or Android app to remotely control the charger. All three chargers have a power output of 240V x 30A, which equals 7.2 kW. The Hardwire version comes with a 14-foot cable, while the Universal and Smart Grid models feature a 20-foot cable. Since it is a Level 2 charger, it offers approximately four times faster charging than Level 1, and works with all J1772 complying cars as well as Tesla vehicles using Tesla’s charging adapter. Regardless of the model you choose, you’ll need a two-pole, 40A circuit breaker. The charger measures 14.5-inches wide by 16-inches tall by 6.5-inches deep. Manufactured in California, the Siemens charger also offers flexible control with pause and 2/4/6/8-hour delay functions accessible from the front of the charger, although the delayed charging may not work for all vehicles. It includes a mounting bracket, charging cable, and NEMA 6-50 plug for the Universal and Smart Grid models. One of the biggest benefits to this charger is that it comes with an industry-leading three-year warranty.
- Bosch Level 2 EV Charger
A well-respected brand in the automotive industry, Bosch offers a Level 2 EV charger, but it’s one of the most expensive on the market. It features a compact and sleek design and charges any vehicle meeting the J1772 standard. Bosch’s charging stations are cUL and UL listed and meet or exceed NEC 625, SAE J1772, as well as having a weather-resistant NEMA 3R enclosure for indoor and outdoor use. This charger can be installed hardwired or as a plug-in with a NEMA 6-50 plug. To protect it from the possibility of overheating is a thermal sensor on the NEMA 6-50 plug. It does have an on/off switch for zero energy consumption when it’s not being used, while multi-function LEDs indicate charging and power status.
If ever necessary, you can purchase a replacement charging cord and coupler separately for this charger. Although it’s a bit more expensive than other options on our list, Bosch is an extremely reputable brand and it includes a three-year limited warranty.
Everything You Need to Know About Home EV Chargers
Electric vehicle (EV) chargers are actually a bit of a misnomer. That’s because your EV charger is actually onboard the vehicle, taking the AC source from your “wall charger” and converting it to DC, so your car’s battery pack can be recharged. It’s also the reason why they’re officially called Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), although they’re widely known as a charger since it just makes more sense.
Essentially, when you’re shopping for a home EV charger, you’re actually looking for an EVSE that can safely recharge your car. This guide aims to explain everything you need to know about home EV chargers before you invest hundreds of dollars into one.
Do I Really Need One?
At the end of the day, that’s a question only you can answer. But here are a few things to guide you on your way to finding the right answer. First, do you own a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or a battery-electric vehicle (BEV)? Most PHEVs, like the Chevrolet Volt, don’t have a very long range, which means they only need a couple hours to fully charge when using a Level 2 charger. Some PHEVs may even recharge their entire range using a standard 110-volt Level 1 charger, which means you wouldn’t need to install anything fancy or expensive to fully charge your car each night.
But if you do own an all-electric vehicle, chances are a Level 1 charger won’t completely do the job overnight. Depending on how much range you use each day, you may need to turn to public charging if you don’t have a charger at home. The question you then have to ask is, how convenient is public charging? Do you have public chargers near your home or even at your work? Do they have long lines? Having a Level 2 charger at your home is the most convenient option if you own a BEV, but they aren’t cheap – especially if you need it professionally installed. Ideally, you purchase a charger that will last you years, one that you can even use for future new car purchases.
Level 1 vs. Level 2
As their names suggest, Level 2 chargers are able to recharge your electrified vehicles quicker than a Level 1 charger. In the most basic sense, Level 1 chargers use a standard power outlet that you can find around your house. They’re typically very slow, giving you around 3 to 4 miles per hour. But that may be enough depending on how much you drive per day, or if you own a PHEV. If you can also plug in while at work, that may be enough to cover you for your daily commute. For most electric vehicle owners, however, you’ll want a Level 2 charger at home. This often means needing a 240-volt outlet, similar to what an electric dryer or an oven uses. Not all households will have an outlet ready to go, which means you will need one professionally installed. Level 2 chargers also come in a variety of charging speeds, so pay close attention when choosing one for your home.
If you’re looking at public charging, most public Level 2 chargers max out at 6.6 kW, which is around 24 to 26 miles per hour. You can get more than that from some Level 2 home chargers.
Hardwired vs. Plug-in
You may notice once you start shopping for chargers that many of them are available as a hardwire option, which means it doesn’t plug into an outlet. If possible, avoid hardwired chargers and instead, pay an electrician to setup the correct plug for your charger. The biggest benefit is if you ever have to move the charger, you can do so easily. Typically, it costs about the same to have someone either professionally hardwire a charger or install the correct outlet, so get an outlet if you can. One thing to note, local code may require some outdoor chargers to be hardwired. Make sure you check your local requirements before purchasing a charger if you need to have it hardwired.
What to Look For in a Home EV Charger
Generally, when you’re shopping for a home EV charger, you’ll want to look at its amperage to determine how much range you will get per hour. It’s recommended to purchase a charger that can handle at least 30 amps, even if your vehicle can’t take full advantage of it. There’s a good chance you’ll eventually upgrade your EV to a newer model, and purchasing the right charger now helps future proof the investment. Pay close attention to the circuit breaker rating that is necessary for your charger, and whether you will be able to accommodate that in your electrical panel.
You also need to determine whether you will be installing your charger indoors or outdoors. If you don’t have a garage, make sure the charger you’re purchasing is rated for outdoor use. There are also portable EV chargers available that don’t require you to install an actual “station” in your garage or outdoors. You’re normally trading performance for convenience when going with a portable charger, but for many, it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s just simpler to plug something into a wall outlet and then into your car. Some chargers will also be UL- or ETL-listed, which means they have met the requirements of widely accepted product safety standards for EVSEs. If you want to be certain a charger is safe to use, look for the UL or ETL logo.
Lastly, check with your local electric utility company to see if there are any rebates or incentives available for installing a charger at home. You may be able to get back some of the cost for your charger through a rebate.
Additional Features of Home EV Chargers
In a connected age, it’s little surprise some EV chargers come with WiFi capability. These chargers allow you to download an app onto your smartphone so that you can remotely control the charger. Features include the ability to schedule charging, energy metering, and more. There are even chargers that are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, so you could use voice commands through any Alexa device such as an Echo Dot. Keep in mind that typically your charger will likely be installed in an area that your home WiFi may not reach. Keep that in mind if you plan on investing into a WiFi-enabled charger, and make sure your wireless network has a strong enough signal to reach wherever you plan on installing the charger.
Other chargers may offer you the ability to set when to charge without having to use WiFi and an app. It’s a nice feature to have, allowing you to plug in your car and have it charge during off peak hours, when electricity may be cheaper. The scheduling feature may not work for all vehicles, so make sure to check with the manufacturer or look at reviews to see if your car is compatible
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