Updated Dec 26, 2022
Times are changing in the car industry. With a rise in conscientiousness about environmental issues, more people are taking the initiative to reduce their carbon footprint and go green. Car owners are no exception. With over 700,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States in 2022, the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) is growing rapidly.
If you’re considering getting a new vehicle, especially a plug-in vehicle, it’s important to understand that it will require some preparation at home. Our guide to getting your home ready for an electric vehicle will walk you through the basics.
Gas-powered cars typically run on spark-ignited internal combustion engines or ICEs. Fuel is pumped from the gas tank into a combustion chamber, where it’s combined with air and ignited by a spark plug, powering your engine.
Electric cars run on battery-powered electricity. EV batteries need to be charged when they aren’t in use — that way, your vehicle can be powered when needed. No combustion is needed to power an EV, meaning more efficient use and low-to-no emissions.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, also known as PHEVs, combine the technology of electric and gas-powered cars. PHEVs have an electric and combustion engine, a battery, and a gas tank. They use both gasoline and electricity as power sources.
Charging an EV is not that different from plugging in an appliance. An EV charger can be hardwired to a grid or plugged into a 120-volt or 240-volt plug. Then, power is drawn through an electrical current to charge your vehicle. Different chargers provide extra miles of range, which new EV owners should consider when deciding on a charging system.
Although EV charging can be done from a regular outlet in your driveway or garage, it can take longer than it would with a special charger. There are a few high-speed residential charging options on the market.
Charging at 110 to 120 volts, a Level 1 EV charger comes standard with all EVs from the dealership and is compatible with the three-prong plug of your wall outlet. A Level 1 charger doesn’t require additional wiring, making charging at home easy and accessible.
However, charging your car with a Level 1 charger takes a long time — a major drawback if you need to go somewhere in a hurry. Because EVs draw more power than standard household appliances, EV chargers must be plugged directly into an outlet. If used in combination with a standard extension cord, you could cause damage to your car or house.
Level 2 chargers can charge your car more quickly than a Level 1 charger, but they require a higher voltage plug like the ones found on a refrigerator. While you won’t need to charge your car as frequently, it does require professional installation if you don’t already have an outlet.
Level 2 chargers, like the Tesla Wall Connector, draw more power, so ensuring your power panel can handle the extra electrical draw of a charging station — 220 to 240 volts — is critical.
Because they’re expensive and require a high-voltage power supply, Level 3 chargers are often only seen in public charging stations. While Level 1 and Level 2 chargers run on alternating current (AC) power, Level 3 chargers use direct current or DC charging.
Although Level 3s charge very quickly in comparison — they can give a battery a full charge within about an hour of charging — most homes don’t have the infrastructure to support that type of charging.
If you stick to using a Level 1 charger in an existing outlet at home, you shouldn’t have any issues. Level 1 chargers don’t require a lot of power consumption, so the electrical infrastructure in your home should be equipped to handle charging with a Level 1 charger.
If you want to charge with a Level 2 charger at home, you may need to make some changes. Level 2 chargers use the same type of outlet as larger home appliances. You’ll need to add one if you don’t have one near where you want to charge your vehicle. Depending on how much electrical energy your main circuit breaker can support, you may need to upgrade your panel to support a new EV.
A charging station may not suit your home if you live in a condo or apartment. If you have on-street parking, for example, accessibility may be an issue, and you may not be able to charge your vehicle when you’re at home. If you live in a neighborhood with a Homeowner’s Association, they may not allow the addition of an electric vehicle home charger.
According to our research, installing a Level 2 charger costs $1,400 on average. This cost may vary depending on your home’s suitability for a charger and the labor needed to install one. Furthermore, the average cost of installing outlets and chargers in an attached home or apartment is more expensive due to the additional labor and supplies required.
Aside from the money you’ll save on gas and regular maintenance costs, there are also government incentives available to purchase an EV and prepare your home for an electric vehicle. Valid through 2032, the EV charger tax credit covers 30% of the cost of the equipment, up to $1,000.
Purchasing a home warranty is an often overlooked step to getting your home ready for an EV. While there are many things you can prepare for, you can’t prepare for the unexpected. If something goes wrong with your electrical system, many homeowners insurance policies don’t cover your home’s internal systems, but some home warranties will.
The stress of losing power in your home is a lot, but a home warranty can ease some of the burdens. A home warranty will help you pay for repairs and set you up with a certified and reliable electrician.
Preparing your home for an electric vehicle is pretty straightforward — it only requires that you are equipped to charge it. We recommend doing a self-assessment to determine what you’ll use your car for and the charging level you need. Depending on the type of charger you want to use, you may need to take a few extra steps to prepare your electrical system.
Other Maintenance Resources