EV Chargers at Home: Level 2 vs. Level 1
As electric vehicles become more popular, many homeowners are considering installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger in their home. A level 2 EV charger is a popular choice because it charges your car faster than a level 1 charger. In this article, we’ll explain how to install a level 2 EV charger in your home, as well as the pros and cons of choosing a level 2 charger over a level 1 charger.
What is a Level 2 Charger?
A level 2 charger is an EV charger that uses a 240-volt circuit, which is the same voltage used by many large appliances in your home. This type of charger charges your EV faster than a level 1 charger, which uses a standard 120-volt household outlet.
Pros and Cons of a Level 2 Charger vs. a Level 1 Charger
Pros of a Level 2 Charger:
Faster charging times: A level 2 charger can charge your EV up to 5 times faster than a level 1 charger, depending on your vehicle and the charger’s output. This means you can charge your car in a shorter amount of time, which is convenient if you need to use your vehicle frequently.
More efficient charging: Level 2 chargers are more efficient than level 1 chargers, which means they waste less energy during the charging process. This can save you money on your electricity bill over time.
Compatibility with more vehicles: Some EVs require a level 2 charger to charge properly, so having a level 2 charger installed in your home can ensure that you can charge any EV that you may own in the future.
Cons of a Level 2 Charger:
Higher installation costs: A level 2 charger requires a 240-volt circuit to be installed, which may require additional electrical work in your home. This can increase the installation cost of a level 2 charger compared to a level 1 charger.
Higher charging costs: A level 2 charger uses more electricity than a level 1 charger, which means that it may cost more to charge your EV with a level 2 charger. However, this cost difference is usually not significant, especially if you charge during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower.
More complex installation: Installing a level 2 charger requires electrical work, which may be more complex than installing a level 1 charger. This means that you may need to hire a professional electrician to install the charger, which can increase the installation cost.
Different Charger Brands Available
There are many different brands of level 2 EV chargers available, each with their own unique features and specifications. Some popular brands include ChargePoint, ClipperCreek, and JuiceBox. When choosing a charger, consider factors such as charging speed, durability, and cost.
Hard-Wired Unit vs. NEMA 14-50 Plug
There are two main types of level 2 chargers: hard-wired units and NEMA 14-50 plug-in units.
A hard-wired unit is a permanent installation that is wired directly into your home’s electrical system. This type of charger is more secure and durable than a plug-in unit, but it may be more difficult to install and may require professional electrical work.
A NEMA 14-50 plug-in unit plugs into a 240-volt outlet, similar to how a large appliance would be plugged in. This type of charger is easier to install and can be moved to a different location if needed, but it may be less secure and durable than a hard-wired unit.
Installing a level 2 EV charger in your home can provide the convenience of faster and more efficient charging for your electric vehicle. However, before you begin the installation process, it’s important to understand the steps involved and potential challenges that may arise.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Electrical System
Before you begin installing a level 2 EV charger, you’ll need to evaluate your home’s electrical system. You’ll need to determine whether you have a 240-volt circuit available or whether you’ll need to have one installed.
If you have an older home, you may not have a 240-volt circuit available, and upgrading your electrical system may be required. You’ll need to work with a licensed electrician to determine what type of electrical work is necessary and obtain any necessary permits before you begin the installation process.
Step 2: Choose Your Charger
Once you’ve evaluated your electrical system, you’ll need to choose the type of level 2 EV charger you want to install. Consider factors such as charging speed, durability, and cost, as well as any additional features or smart capabilities that may be important to you.
You’ll also need to choose between a hard-wired unit and a plug-in unit, depending on your preference and the requirements of your home’s electrical system.
Step 3: Mount the Charger
Once you’ve chosen your charger, you’ll need to mount it to a sturdy surface. This may involve drilling into a wall or mounting it on a pedestal. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure the charger is installed securely and safely.
Step 4: Run the Electrical Wiring
Running the electrical wiring for your level 2 EV charger is one of the most important and complex steps in the installation process. If you’re not comfortable working with electrical wiring, it’s important to hire a licensed electrician to complete this step.
The wiring must be run from the circuit breaker to the location of the EV charger, and it must be done according to local electrical codes to ensure safety and compliance.
Step 5: Connect the Charger
After the wiring is in place, you’ll need to connect the charger to the electrical system. This may involve hard-wiring the charger to the electrical circuit or plugging it in if you’ve chosen a plug-in unit.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure the connections are secure and the charger is receiving the proper electrical current.
Step 6: Test the Charger
Once the charger is connected, it’s important to test it to ensure it’s functioning properly. You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing the charger, and you may need to work with a licensed electrician to ensure everything is operating safely and efficiently.
While installing a level 2 EV charger can provide many benefits, there are also potential challenges you may encounter during the installation process. Some of the most common challenges include:
- Insufficient electrical capacity: Your home may not have the electrical capacity to support a level 2 EV charger, and you may need to upgrade your electrical system before installation can begin.
- Wiring challenges: Running electrical wiring for a level 2 EV charger can be complex and may require professional assistance to ensure compliance with local electrical codes.
- Location challenges: Mounting the charger in the proper location can be challenging, particularly if you want to avoid running long lengths of electrical wiring.
- Cost: Installing a level 2 EV charger can be expensive, particularly if you need to upgrade your electrical system or run new wiring. However, the benefits of faster and more efficient charging may outweigh the initial cost
Installing a level 2 EV charger involves evaluating your electrical system, choosing a charger, mounting the charger, running the electrical wiring, connecting the charger, and testing it. Challenges you may encounter include insufficient electrical capacity, wiring challenges, location challenges, and cost. It’s important to do your research and work with a licensed electrician to ensure a safe and efficient installation process.