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Everything You Need to Know About Installing an Electric Car Charging Station

Bill Loguidice
Written by Bill Loguidice
Updated March 16, 2022
A family loading luggage in their car while charging it
Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Level 2 charging is more than twice as fast as Level 1 charging.

  • Level 2 charging stations start at $300–$1,000.

  • Professional installation is recommended for Level 2 charging stations.

  • Professional installation starts at $400–$1,200.

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Charging a vehicle at home is the ultimate convenience. Who needs gas stations (and their ever-rising prices) when you’ve got an electrical vehicle (EV) that will always be ready to hit the open road. 

If you’re considering taking the EV plunge, here’s what you need to know about installing a Level 2 electric car charging station so you can have maximum range with minimal wait.

How Do You Install an Electric Car Charging Station? 

Although the number of available public electric car charging stations are increasing rapidly, there are still plenty of gaps in electric car charging infrastructure. That’s why many EV owners take matters into their own hands and charge at home for maximum convenience and peace of mind. 

What many prospective EV owners don’t always know is that there are actually two different methods to charge most EVs at home: Level 1 charging and Level 2 charging.

Level 1 Charging

Fortunately, every electric car comes standard with a 120-volt charging option, which means you can charge from a regular household outlet. Unfortunately, using a standard household outlet through what’s known as Level 1 charging takes approximately four to five hours per driving hour charged. 

That means that if you Level-1 charge for eight hours, you might only store about 35 to 40 hours of driving range. That’s where Level 2 charging comes in.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging uses a special 240-volt outlet, similar to major home appliances like ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, and central air conditioners. The advantage with Level 2 charging is that you can charge in less than half the time as Level 1 and can easily gain a whopping 180 miles of driving range from the same eight-hour charging cycle. 

Needless to say, installing a Level 2 electric charging station outside your home or inside your garage is an ideal way to optimize your time and investment in your EV.

Can You DIY Electric Car Charging Station Installation? 

An electric car getting charged in a home installed charging station
Photo: Aranga87 / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

As with any complex electrical installation, installing a Level 2 charging station is best left to the pros. At 240 volts—twice the voltage of a standard household outlet—the risks of a fatal electric shock can’t be overstated. 

Fortunately, with the popularity of electric vehicles, there is a large selection of licensed electricians near you able to safely perform the installation of a Level 2 electric charging station.

Of course, the rates for a licensed electrician, which start around $400 and can go as high as $1,200 or more, need to be factored into the overall cost of the charging station. 

Important Considerations for Your Charging Station

Level 2 charging stations are typically shoebox-sized, but you’ll still need to ensure sufficient space and clearance around the unit for installation. You’ll also need to ensure that your vehicle’s charging port can easily be reached by the charger’s cable, which is typically 20 to 25 feet long. 

Finally, some municipalities require a Level 2 charging station to be hardwired rather than plugged into an outlet. In fact, if you choose an installation location outside of your home and your charger will be exposed to the elements, then a hardwired installation is a safety requirement.

Where Can You Install an Electric Car Charger? 

If you wish to install a Level 2 charger outside your home, it will need to be rated for outdoor use, which is not true of all chargers. Regardless of whether you install the Level 2 charger inside your home—typically in a garage—or outside your home, ideal placement means your EVs charging port is on the same side as the charger. 

This placement both shortens the distance you have to run the charging cable and reduces the chances of tangles or creating a tripping hazard.

What About Safety?

A good Level 2 charger will feature lightning protection, overheat protection, overvoltage protection, leakage protection, and have a waterproof rating of at least IP67. IP67 provides 100% protection against solid objects like dust and sand and will work for at least 30 minutes while under up to 1 meter of water. 

While you would obviously never charge your EV during a rainstorm or flood conditions, it’s important that your charger can hold up to the elements.

Why a Good App Matters

Most Level 2 chargers come with a companion app for your Android- or iOS-based smartphone or tablet. While using an app is not strictly necessary, it can make your charging experience even more useful. A good app should be able to do everything from sending you a notification when your vehicle is done charging to charging at specific times when local electricity rates are at their lowest.

How Much Does a Level 2 EV Charging Station Cost? 

Level 2 charging stations start at $300 and can easily exceed $1,000, depending on additional features like more amps, which equals even faster charging, or more feature-rich, touchscreen displays. Make sure you discuss the features and options you’re most interested in with your electrician and what will work best in your installation location before making a final decision on your charging station. 

Finally, depending upon the age of your home and the current state of your electrical panel, you may also need to upgrade certain wiring or the electrical panel itself, which will further add to your total costs.

Are There Rebates or Tax Credits for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations? 

To help offset some of the costs, some chargers qualify for the 30% Federal tax credit of up to $1,000 for equipment and installation. You can also search on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center website to see if there are any rebates or tax credits for installing an electric charging station in your state. 

While California has the largest range of rebates, discounts, and credits for EV buyers, many other states also have generous programs, in addition to incentives at the local city and utility company levels. It’s all well worth investigating to see even greater returns on your EV investments.

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